There are no circumstances under which we would be better off outside the EU

8th February, 2016 5:02 pm

EU flag

As David Cameron jets round Europe to seal his EU reform deal, and with the various leave campaigns squabbling and in chaos, the big issues facing voters in the referendum mustn’t be lost.

The EU referendum is not about the future of the prime minister or the dramas of the Tory Party or which mad right-winger is running which leave campaign, but about working people – about workers’ jobs and workers’ rights. It will be about trade. About security, consumer rights, the environment, the future of our country and the futures of everyone in it.

Remaining in the European Union is vital for all these things. There are no circumstances under which we would be better off outside the EU, so we must not allow talk of this deal to eclipse the bigger picture.

That said, as Labour MEPs, we have worked hard to ensure that one of the biggest advantages we enjoy from being in the EU – workplace rights – were not up for discussion and have not been weakened as part of this deal. It is thanks to Labour, our trade union colleagues and our sister parties across Europe that David Cameron was not able to negotiate away our rights, and we must now ensure working people keep these rights by remaining in the EU.

These are major employment rights for working people in Britain, including a minimum four weeks’ paid holiday; a right to parental leave; extended maternity leave; the same protection for part-time workers as full-time workers, anti-discrimination laws, and protection for the workforce when companies change ownership.

Labour MEPs are working not just to protect but to extend these rights, for example to cover the abuse of zero-hour contracts. We will fight to stamp down on abuse of these contracts to exploit workers and avoid paying fair wages, and we want to tackle employers who exploit workers from other countries to undercut wages – this is the agenda we would be advancing if we were the ones negotiating reform.

And it is not just as workers but as consumers that British people are better off in the EU. Holidaymakers no longer face extortionate mobile phone bills when holidaying or working within the EU, and by June next year there will be no more huge bills; travellers whose flights are delayed or cancelled have rights to recompense; we receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe, with greater quality and safety of products.

Most obviously of all, being in the EU means we are free to travel throughout all 28 countries, free to work wherever we wish, free to trade with whom we want.

Looking at the bigger picture, when it comes to tackling the biggest crises we face, from climate change to terrorism to the refugee crisis, from regulating global banks and markets to tackling tax avoidance – issues that can only be tackled at international level through cooperation and joint action – we are self-evidently better off inside a multi-nation Union than going it alone, isolated and powerless.

We now have the details of the draft deal, and while Cameron dashes across Europe to secure it, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that our EU membership is worth far more than whatever he secures.

The time is nearly here, and when that time comes, it’ll be time to end the uncertainty, to vote for the future, to vote to remain.

Glenis Willmott MEP is leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]

Latest

  • Comment Featured This sorry tale of Corbyn and Malhotra’s office politics reveals the mistrust at the top of Labour

    This sorry tale of Corbyn and Malhotra’s office politics reveals the mistrust at the top of Labour

    There are no winners from the row over access to Seema Malhotra’s office. The whole episode – from “unauthorised” entry to complaint, television appeal and then staff being cleared – has led to anger on both sides. To members it has probably prompted despair. Meanwhile the voting public looks upon Labour and is, once again, mystified. The fascination of the press and broadcasters with this dispute is not difficult to understand. It perfectly suited their narrative of another in a series of proxy battles […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Cooper: Labour risks fresh slump in core vote unless it responds to harsher world of work

    Cooper: Labour risks fresh slump in core vote unless it responds to harsher world of work

    Changes in the workplace and the world of big business means Labour is at risk of losing its traditional support base, Yvette Cooper has warned. Some of Labour’s current problems come from a failure to connect with working class voters who have been left behind by globalisation, Cooper argues in a new book published with the Changing Work Centre, joint initiative from the Fabians and Community, the union. Labour is not inspiring those who want to work hard or offering them answers to the […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Smith unveils wealth tax as part of 20 policies to tackle inequality

    Smith unveils wealth tax as part of 20 policies to tackle inequality

    Owen Smith today pledged to deliver “fair employment, fair taxes and fair funding”, as he revealed a manifesto of 20 policies. In a speech on the site of the old Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire, the leadership contender promised to ban zero hour contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act, build 1.5 million new homes and end the public sector pay freeze. Smith has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership for failing to bring forward policies, and aims to use today’s series […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    “The kind of revolution I’ll deliver” – Owen Smith’s speech on industry

    Here is the full text of Owen Smith’s speech at the Knowledge Transfer Centre Advanced Manufacturing Park on the site of the old Orgreave coking works today: This place is a symbol of what we can do at our best. How Labour can build a fairer, more prosperous and contented country. But, let me be clear, under the Tories, we have become an unhappy country. A frustrated, divided and profoundly unequal country. Where individuals and whole communities feel deeply that life […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Corbyn: Owen Smith is copying my industrial policies

    Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign has accused rival Owen Smith of lifting policies from the Labour leader. Corbyn campaigners said Smith’s policies on equality, re-industrialisation, workers’ rights and development in the north of England have been announced by the leader or John McDonnell over recent months. Smith, the leadership challenger, today announced a set of policies designed to tackle economic inequality, saying neither Corbyn nor Tony Blair was sufficiently radical. Smith promised to introduce a Ministry of Labour, increase the top rate of […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit