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We know that Boris Johnson is a liar. How many examples do you need? The Daily Telegraph which paid him a quarter of a million a year has just apologised for blatant untruths in three columns this year.

We know he’s the enemy in the current battle. Only preventing a Conservative majority can stop Johnson from delivering his disastrous Brexit.

Sadly, the party leader who should be our ally in the Remain cause, Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats, is outdoing the Tory leader on the mendacity front.

Swinson is putting party before country. That was her obvious motive for abandoning the People’s Vote common front amongst opposition parties.

It led her to collude with Johnson on calling an early election. Lest we forget the Commons had blocked him from rushing through his deal and there was a good chance of a majority for a People’s Vote to break the Brexit deadlock.

Swinson’s spurious justification was that a handful of Labour MPs had given initial approval to Boris Johnson’s “deal”. Most, however, had made it clear they wouldn’t support it through to the end without attaching a confirmatory referendum.

Jo Swinson’s biggest con is her signature policy of revoking article 50 without a People’s Vote. She claims she will have a mandate if she’s elected Prime Minister as the leader of a majority government. That is a total fantasy.

She would need well over 300 seats to achieve that. Let’s look at what she would need to do to get halfway there. To take 150 seats she would need to gain seats such as Redcar, Edinburgh North and Leith and Maidenhead, requiring swings of more than 26%.    

Former leader Vince Cable isn’t going along with the Swinson fantasy.

Sky’s Lewis Goodall reports: “Sir Vince Cable tells me he expects the Lib Dems to win between 45-85 seats at the election. They’d be doing very well to get the lower end of that range.”

And Sky’s Sophie Ridge delivered a “must watch” demolition of Swinson’s record as a minister in the Cameron-Clegg coalition. 

By spending more time attacking Labour than attacking the Conservatives, Swinson is

  •       helping the Tories defeat sitting Labour MPs in marginal seats
  •       damaging the chances of a People’s Vote on any Brexit outcome
  •       playing into the hands of the Tory Brexiteers.

Many Liberal Democrats get it. If they are a real Remainer they will do all they can to reign in their tribal leader.

By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent and Labour Press officer


Swinson: Selling the Remain cause short

We know that Boris Johnson is a liar. How many examples do you need? The Daily Telegraph which paid him a quarter of a million a year has just apologised...

The BBC’s respected Laura Kuenssberg, uncharacteristically, made a serious mistake when she asked the first question to Jeremy Corbyn after he launched the Labour Party’s election campaign in Battersea yesterday.

Was there much difference, she inquired, between Corbyn’s launch now and the launch of his campaign in 2017?

Well, there is. The major difference between March 2017 and Halloween 2019 is that in 2017 Jeremy Corbyn was happy to go with the Brexit flow and strongly distanced Labour from any idea of challenging or confirming the referendum result once we had a Brexit deal.

Instead Labour devised its own policy of six tests that the Government would have to meet for Labour to approve Mrs May’s Brexit withdrawal proposals. None of those tests included consulting the people.

Yesterday, in a Copernican revolution, Corbyn announced he was committed to a new referendum, the People’s Vote, which has been the principal demand of pro-European groups in the last two years.

Corbyn even used the phrase “Trust the People” first coined by the 19th century Tory Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

In his speech Corbyn said: “We need to take it (Brexit) out of the hands of the politicians and trust the people to have a final say.”

For a life-long professional politician to claim Brexit should be taken out of the hands of the politicians was pure chutzpah. Yet it shows how far Corbyn had travelled under pressure from his MPs, Labour Party members, and the millions of Labour voters who switched to the LibDems or Greens, notably in the 2019 EU election, in protest to his refusal, until very recently, to back a new referendum.

Corbyn grandly announced that three months after entering Downing Street he would re-negotiate a new deal with the EU and that within six months both a new Brexit deal and the option simply to remain in the EU would be on the ballot paper.

There were similar processes in Denmark and Ireland after initial referendum decisions to repudiate EU Treaty membership were then followed by second referendums which kept Ireland and Denmark in Europe.

It is still far too early to see if Corbyn can win enough seats or at least win more than Boris Johnson and then possibly form a coalition with other parties - all of which support a People’s Vote.

What is clear is that Labour is now fighting the 2019 election as the party of a new referendum on Brexit and that is a significant political development.

The Labour Party conference adopted this policy in September and Corbyn has been paying lip service to it ever since. But many cynical Corbyn watchers thought he might wriggle out of the commitment.

This hasn’t happened. Labour is now the party of a new referendum on Brexit. It allows a 2 for 1 offer. Vote Labour and if a Labour supporter you can have all your favourite left policies AND you can have a People’s Vote, a second referendum on Brexit.

It has taken a long time but now Labour is looking down the barrel of a general election it has decided that allowing the people a vote on Europe is a good idea.

In fact, the only parties with MPs in the Commons who still oppose a People’s Vote are the Conservatives and the DUP. Might they change before voters run to LibDems, the SNP, the Greens and now Labour, all of whom back a People’s Vote?

By Denis MacShane - former Labour Party MP for Rotherham and former Minister of State for Europe.

Corbyn Launches Campaign By Embracing People’s Vote

The BBC’s respected Laura Kuenssberg, uncharacteristically, made a serious mistake when she asked the first question to Jeremy Corbyn after he launched the Labour Party’s election campaign in Battersea yesterday....

By Agnes Jongerius MEP, Coordinator of Socialist & Democrats Group in Employment and Social Affairs Committee
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP Labour spokespersons on Employment and Social Affair

Larry Elliott's provocative opinion column ("Don’t be fooled – the EU is no defender of workers’ rights" 24/10/2019) led to pretty lively discussions on social media, as it should. Elliott’s assertions have been robustly countered on Twitter, notably by Professor Michael Dougan - an EU law expert specialised in free movement and equal treatment rights - and Larry Elliott's view that "social Europe never delivered all that much" simply isn't shared by British labour lawyers


It's not shared by Trade Unions either, whether in the UK or across Europe. The reason for this is that while the EU is clearly not a socialist paradise (a criticism often heard on the other side of the pro-brexit spectrum), it's impossible to dismiss single-handedly all the EU is achieving for workers and their rights, and the progress we can expect in the future according to the new EU Commission’s commitments.

Larry Elliot conveniently avoids mentioning the most symbolic of all EU labour regulation: the Working Time Directive. A long-standing obsession of the Tories, it remains the only standard applicable in the UK protecting workers against longer hours. For this basic right, as for many others like paid annual leave, workplace equality, part-time work, maternity and parental leave, workplace safety, etc. the EU has legislated to ensure minimum standards applicable across the EU. This does not prevent any government adopting more generous rights, but it gives us a safety net against Tory-led deregulation. In fact where we've seen reductions in rights recently in the UK, has been precisely in areas where the EU does not set minimum standards, like unfair dismissal or access to tribunals. This clearly goes to show the value of this safety net.

Larry Elliott's argument that this is mere pessimism, assuming that the Tories will be for ever in power, is like saying we don't need the International Labour Organisation because we can do socialism in our own country. This totally misses the point that as long as we keep trading with the rest of the world, we need decent labour standards abroad as well as at home to protect UK workers against  unfair competition. This is actually a redline for the EU in negotiating the withdrawal agreement and future relationship with the UK: ensuring a level playing field, so that EU workers are protected against future deregulation in the UK.

Larry Elliot is economical with his facts. He uses the Laval ECJ case to demonstrate a point without recognising that MEPs reversed the judgement through the revision of the EU Posting of Workers Directive last year. The new rules introduced equal treatment between posted workers and their local co-workers, enshrining the principle of equal pay for equal work in the same workplace. Employers are now obliged to offer equal pay from the start of the posting, as well as the same allowances and reimbursement for travel and accommodation costs. It also allows the UK to deem national collective agreements as mandatory for posted workers – something that effectively solves the problems resulting from the Viking and Laval ECJ case law which Larry Elliot fails to acknowledge. These rules provide for effective protection against social dumping, while preserving freedom of movement. There are no such rules in any other international agreement, whether in ILO Conventions or in any free trade agreements. Without them, even outside of the EU, UK workers would be left exposed to the undercutting of their rights and wages by unscrupulous bosses.

True, Social Europe is not currently where it should be. And one of the main reasons why further progress has not been made over the year is because of obstruction from successive UK governments. Fortunately the tide is turning, and the adoption of a European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017 signals a new beginning for social Europe. While we were infighting over Brexit, the EU has already adopted not just tighter rules on posted workers, but also on health and safety, on transparent and predictable working conditions (protecting zero-hours contract workers), and created a European Labour Authority to name but a few recent achievements. With the new Commission soon to be installed the future Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party's Nicolas Schmit, has laid out an ambitious agenda including determined action to give equal rights to exploited gig economy workers.

These are battles we can't fight on our own. This was the great realisation of the TUC in 1987 when Delors spoke about social Europe. We need to remember this lesson quickly or we’ll give the Tories a free hand to strip back all protection.”

Larry Elliott is Wrong on EU & Workers' Rights

By Agnes Jongerius MEP, Coordinator of Socialist & Democrats Group in Employment and Social Affairs CommitteeJude Kirton-Darling MEP Labour spokespersons on Employment and Social Affair Larry Elliott's provocative opinion column ("Don’t...

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