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Open Britain Background Briefing: Labour’s General Election Manifesto

  • Open Britain welcomes the Labour Party’s red line that it will reject any “no deal” scenario.
  • However, the manifesto does not go far enough on the Single Market and the Customs Union. 
  • Open Britain agrees with the need for the UK to stay in programmes such as ERASMUS and Horizon 2020 and can support the manifesto’s stance on the Great Repeal Bill, immigration and EU nationals.   

Background 

Red line on “no deal”: Open Britain fully supports the Labour Party’s stance that “no deal is the worst possible deal”, where reverting to WTO trading relations with the EU would have severe detrimental consequences for the UK economy. Open Britain also supports the manifesto’s call for Parliament to have a meaningful final vote on the Brexit negotiations, where the final vote should be on accepting the deal or requesting the Government return to the negotiating table. 

Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and if needs be negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a 'cliff-edge’ for the UK economy.

“A Labour approach to Brexit also means legislating to guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal.”

Single Market & Customs Union: Whilst the Manifesto calls for a retention of the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union, it does not advocate membership of either, despite advocating unrestricted access for goods and services. Open Britain believes that only membership of both will allow the UK to enjoy the current benefits which it enjoys through EU membership today.  

“We will scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union – which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain. Labour will always put jobs and the economy first.”

“The EU accounts for 44 per cent of our current exports and will continue to be a priority trading partner. As our trading relationship with the EU changes it is vital that we retain unrestricted access for our goods and services.”

EU agencies and programmes: Open Britain generally supports the Labour Party’s aim of seeking to maintain membership of Euratom, the European Medicines Agency, Europol, Eurojust, and the European Arrest Warrant. However on all of these, it would be for the EU27 to agree as to whether a non-EU member state would be allowed to be a member. Open Britain fully supports staying in the ERASMUS scheme, which has provided fantastic opportunities for UK students to live, study and work abroad, and also fully supports the UK remaining part of Horizon2020, which has provided funding for scientists and scientific research in the UK. 

“A Labour government will ensure that the UK maintains our leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes and by welcoming research staff to the UK. We will seek to maintain membership of (or equivalent relationships with) European organisations which offer benefits to the UK such as Euratom and the European Medicines Agency. We will seek to ensure that Britain remains part of the Erasmus scheme so that British students have the same educational opportunities after we leave the EU.”

“Labour recognises the vital role that cross-border agencies such as Eurojust and Europol have played in making Britain safer and that European Arrest Warrants have been invaluable. A Labour government will seek to retain membership of these agencies and continue European Arrest Warrant arrangements.

Immigration & EU nationals: Open Britain can broadly support the Labour Party’s stance on immigration, as Labour have backed Open Britain’s call for the Government to drop its immigration target, which is neither desirable for the economy nor supported by the business community. Open Britain also welcomes the Labour Party’s manifesto commitment on guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals.

“Labour offers fair rules and reasonable management of migration. In trade negotiations our priorities favour growth, jobs and prosperity. We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets.”

“A Labour Government will immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries.”

Bringing EU legislation into UK law: Open Britain generally welcomes the approach taken by the Labour Party, which would ensure that there would be no watering-down of EU-derived legislation during the Brexit process. 

“We will drop the Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill, replacing it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.

A Labour approach to Brexit will ensure there can be no rolling back of key rights and protections and that the UK does not lag behind Europe in workplace protections and environmental standards in future.”

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