European Policy Forum 2018 – to celebrate Labour’s achievements in the EU over 40 years

Earlier this month, Johanna and I attended the annual Yorkshire and the Humber European Policy Forum in Sheffield. This year’s forum was a poignant event as it could well be the last one before Brexit in March 2019.

Linda McAvan and Richard Corbett our two MEPs were joined by Paul Blomfield, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister. Paul made it clear that Labour will vote against Theresa May’s deal unless it delivers on our key priorities of protecting our economy, our jobs and preventing a hard border on the Northern Ireland/Republic border.

Richard gave an update from the Brussels perspective, emphasising that other EU governments were trying to get an agreement with the U.K. but talks are difficult because of problems inside the Tory Party. His speech can be found here.

Linda emphasised that the work of the EU goes on and a whole range of progressive policies are in negotiation: bans on single-use plastics, new laws to cut Co2 emissions, a new law to tighten up on zero-hours contracts and action against unfair trading practices by supermarkets. Meanwhile the big issues that most people in Britain really care about – housing, the NHS, elderly care, poverty, low wages – are not getting dealt with.

The second half looked at Labour’s achievements in the EU over the last 40 years since the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979. and showed them in a document ‘40 Years of Labour Achievements’ that Linda and Richard produced.

Baroness Joyce Quin the guest speaker was joined by other former MEPs: Roger Barton (1989-99), Veronica Hardstaff (1994-99), Michael McGowan (1984-99). David Bowe (1989-04), who had hoped to attend but had to cancel at short notice, sent his good wishes.

A special 10 minute video was shown with messages from these former colleagues and other former MEPs from our region: John Prescott, leader of Labour MEPs before direct elections, Barry Seal (1979-99), Richard Caborn (1979-84).

Their real achievement: environmental protection, cleaner beaches, Banning battery farming, no animal testing for cosmetics, capping bankers bonuses, roaming charges abolished, EU health insurance card, huge investment in Yorkshire, workers’ rights: paid holidays, maximum working week, Safety: food, toys, chemicals, electrical goods.

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