Weekly update from Keir Starmer.
Labour’s Brexit Position
At the end of August I wrote an article for the Observer outlining Labour’s position on transitional arrangements after we leave the European Union.
We have repeatedly emphasised that in order to avoid a cliff edge for our economy there will need to be a time-limited transitional period between our exit from the EU and the new lasting relationship we build with our European partners.
I have now made clear that Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. This means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period.
This strong united position has been very warmly received across the Party and by trade unions; and I am glad that we stand on a solid platform going forward.
You can read the article here.
Second Reading of Withdrawal Bill
I have received a lot of correspondence this week from constituents who are concerned about parts of the Withdrawal Bill. The Bill the Government has proposed would put huge and unaccountable power into the hands of government ministers, it would side-line Parliament on major decisions and put crucial rights and protections at risk.
During the second reading I tried to dismantle the government’s arguments on the Bill. You can judge my efforts here.
Friends House Detention Meeting
Last Friday it was a pleasure to meet some members of Friends House Quaker Meeting in Euston to discuss immigration detention.
At the last General Election I stood on a manifesto that committed to ending indefinite detention. When people are going through our asylum system, the Government has a duty to ensure that anybody detained is treated with basic dignity and in accordance with their human rights. The Government must take all necessary action to ensure this.
I went from Quaker House to Kings Cross to speak at a fundraising dinner at Sheffield Heeley hosted by my great 2015 intake colleague Louise Haigh.
More Withdrawal Bill
This week we voted on the Withdrawal Bill and although the government succeeded at Second Reading, I immediately tabled very strong amendments. There are now a huge number of amendments down with wide support so we will be fighting the government all the way this autumn.
On Wednesday, I sponsored the EU Citizen’s Right to Remain event organised by Unison, the 3 million and other citizens’ rights groups. The failure of the government to deal with EU citizen’s rights unilaterally is shameful and I will keep the pressure on David Davis to resolve this issue.
Great Labour Win!
Fantastic news as Labour defeated the government in the Commons on Wednesday with our motion calling for higher wages for NHS staff and an end to the public sector pay cap.
HS2 Campaign continues
Earlier in the week, Georgia Gould and I attended another meeting with a large audience of local people at Netley school, expertly chaired by Dorothea Hackman. We had a fascinating presentation from Steve Christofi about the gains his traffic committee has managed to extract from HS2 by persistent, evidence based negotiations.
But there is no doubt about the range of problems we face in Camden from this massive and deeply disruptive project. It will take years – decades – of work and the role of the community in working with us will be critical.
Small business driven out of Soho
On Thursday I also went to meet small businesses in Soho, at the invitation of Robin Smith, who founded SOHOST, which encourages business start-ups.
The problems they face are very similar to those faced across central London: rate and rent rises that are forcing them out of business. Instead of the wonderful mix of small specialist shops selling fashion, fabrics, records and books we are in danger of being left with only international brands that can be found anywhere from Sydney to New York. The ‘spirit of Soho’ will have been killed off.
Sue Terpilowski, London Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses is leading on the issue and she agreed to let me have the main ‘asks’ of her members, so that I can raise them in Parliament.
As usual, if anyone wants to contact me, you can email me at email@example.com.