Labour’s Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has already accepted defeat on EU migration, stating ‘free movement will have to end’.
I won’t be joining him in waving the white flag.
I am proud to say that I believe in the free movement of people in the EU.
I believe it’s a great thing that we have the freedom to live, work and love in Europe. It has enriched our country that people have been able to travel here to do the same.
There is no evidence that migration to the UK has depressed wages. Migrants also pay more in net taxes than the native population, helping to sustain our public services.
For too long we’ve allowed the far-right and politicians like Nigel Farage, to dominate this debate. Labour have pandered to the sentiment, infamously writing ‘controls on immigration’ on their mugs before the 2015 election and promising ‘British jobs for British workers’ as Gordon Brown did in 2007.
We should be dealing with this rhetoric head on.
I fully understand working people’s anger about stagnant wages and deteriorating public services. I also sympathise with their concerns about a loss of identify and job security. As a society we should be looking at ways of helping restore these to people.
But what really threatens our wages and our public services is a government determined to use Brexit to increase profitability for large corporations at the expense of working people and the environment.
EU workplace regulations ensure there is no race to the bottom on our working conditions and have ensured women and part time workers get more equal pay and pensions. EU directives also ensure companies must protect the local environment and not pollute our water or air.
If the Conservative Party is allowed to drag us out of Europe on their terms they will attack these conditions, turning us into a bargain basement, low tax economy.
Their divisive rhetoric on immigration is also already driving away many creative, hard working people who work in our universities or our public services.
To be fair to our current local MP, Daniel Zeichner, he has integrity and has spoken and voted against Brexit. But he is now dangerously far from his own party’s policy. At our recent hustings at the Junction he said ‘I’m a long way from accepting that we are going to be leaving the European Union.’
But today his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is announcing that the issue of Brexit is ‘settled’. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39852719)
The Green Party, in contrast is united and proud to support free movement. I will champion this cause and make it an absolute priority if I am elected and have to scrutinise the coming negotiations. I will also fight hard to maintain and enhance the workplace and environmental regulations we benefit from as members of the EU.
If you believe in free movement in Europe then please join me in campaigning for it over this month. I know the vast majority of young people agree with me on this and I’m desperate to preserve it.
Make your voices heard before it’s too late.