Staying In to tackle tax avoidance and climate change – Corbyn’s latest EU speech

19th May, 2016 5:21 pm

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This the is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Bristol Labour In for Britain Rally today.

Thank you – and it’s a pleasure to be back here in Bristol again – after Marvin’s magnificent win here two weeks ago, and Labour regaining the council for the first time since 2003.

They are excellent representatives for the people of Bristol and like me are keen to tackle the many problems facing people in this country. And let’s be clear, the responsibility for them lies in 10 Downing Street, not in Brussels.

This country is being let down by a Conservative government that is failing on housing, failing our children, failing our NHS, failing to create good quality secure jobs and failing even against its own economic targets.

They are making the wrong choices, they have the wrong priorities, cutting benefits for disabled people, while giving tax breaks to the richest.

They are letting people down and in 2020 we must vote leave for this Tory Government to leave office.

And when Labour does come into government we will work with our allies to reform the European Union to improve workers’ rights.

That is the exact opposite of what the Leave campaign wants earlier this week, they said by leaving the EU, they could “halve the burdens of the EU social and employment legislation”.

What are these burdens?

  • The right to four weeks paid holiday, plus public holidays
  • The right to equal pay between men and women
  • The right to decent standards of health and safety protection in work
  • Rights to maternity and paternity leave
  • Protection for people working for agencies
  • And comprehensive protection from discrimination at work

They need to come clean and say what they would scrap.

And we will work together with our allies to tackle issues like tax avoidance and climate change.

Because there is so much more the European Union could be doing if we had a government making the right choices and with the right priorities.

That is why Labour is voting to remain to work within Europe to make things better in Britain the Tories are doing the opposite.

Let me give you a recent example: the steel industry.  This was a challenge facing all European governments, the dumping of Chinese steel onto the global market at prices below the cost of production.

The European Commission proposed new tariffs on Chinese steel, but the UK Government blocked those co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping

For weeks the Government, and the Leave side, said that European rules barred any government intervention to save steel. Which was odd, because other countries did act decisively and promptly within EU state aid rules to support their industries whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.

When Redcar steelworks got into trouble last year no action was taken and it has taken weeks for the Tories to do what Labour was saying from the start take a public stake to protect jobs.

It is not the EU that is the problem but a Conservative government here in Britain that doesn’t recognise the strategic importance of the steel industry for our economy for the jobs and skills in those communities.

The Conservative Government has cut investment in infrastructure that would have used more steel and had no procurement strategy to favour UK steel.

Of course the Conservatives are utterly committed to protecting one British industry in Europe, the tax avoidance industry.

Time after time this Prime Minister has not only failed to tackle tax avoidance he has actively blocked European proposals to tackle it.  In 2013 David Cameron personally intervened to the European Commission president to weaken an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts and just last month Tory MEPs voted against proposals brought forward in the wake of the Panama Papers.

And on at least seven different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted against attempts to clamp down on tax dodging.

Unrestrained, it is clear what the Vote Leave vision for Britain is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch or dictator.

Labour has allies in Europe to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to truly clamp down on those on who would extract the shared wealth of our economies.

Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. Britain alone cannot tackle it. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless.

But despite David Cameron pledging to lead the greenest government ever, that was his “hug-a-huskie” phase, Britain still lags far behind most of Europe in terms of renewable energy production

This Government has cut subsidies for solar while increasing subsidies for diesel it has cut regulatory burdens on fracking yet increased regulations on onshore wind. They say one thing but do another.

And it is regulations agreed in Europe that have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and that are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025 unless we act.

Being in the EU is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share.

Whether it’s on steel, climate change or tax justice the EU has come forward with positive proposals and it is this Conservative Government that is holding Britain back.

And with their Trade Union Bill they have proved they cannot be trusted on our workplace protections.

It is EU regulations that that underpin many rights at work, like holiday entitlement, maternity leave, rights to take breaks and limits to how many hours we can work and that have helped to improve protections for agency workers.

The Tories and UKIP are on record as saying they would like to reduce our workplace rights and many bad bosses would reduce our rights at work if they could.

Instead a Labour government would go further and work to raise standards throughout Europe to stop the undercutting of wages to strengthen every worker in Europe.

And the EU is vital for promoting human rights at home.  As a result of EU directives and regulations, disabled people are protected from discrimination. Lifts, cars and buses need to be accessible, as does, sea and air travel.

And it was the Labour Government that signed the Human Rights Act into UK law that transferred power from government – not to Brussels – but to individual citizens.

So vote to remain; for human rights, for rights at work, to tackle climate change, to tackle tax avoidance – for the vision of Europe that unites not divides.

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