In his major speech laying out Labour’s position on the EU negotiations, the Shadow Brexit Minister Keir Starmer explicitly supported recent comments of Unite general secretary Len McCluskey that have called for an end to Britain’s free movement relationship with Europe.
Responding to the speech Another Europe Is Possible spokesperson Luke Cooper said:
“We are very disappointed with the Labour position as outlined by Keir Starmer. We know that his stance on free movement is controversial at every level of the Labour Party.
“It must be shouted from the rooftops that immigration is not responsible for the drastic fall in real term wage levels seen since the financial crisis. Migrants are not responsible for the zero hours economy. They are not responsible for super-exploitation of the vulnerable by irresponsible employers. No credible study on the effects of immigration on the labour market has shown otherwise.
“Britain would be poorer without the magnificent economic and cultural contribution of migrant workers to our society. Our failed economic model – not immigration – is hurting living standards for the great majority. It is this that has to change.
“Pulling up the drawbridge to European workers will do nothing to address this. Quite on the contrary the negative economic impact of ending free movement will be shouldered by the most vulnerable. Meanwhile British people hoping to work in EU states will have to deal with a mountain of bureaucratic red tape.
“We will be working with allies across the trade union and progressive movement to establish a broad based campaign to defend free movement. We are confident that large numbers of Labour MPs, party members, supporters and voters will back this campaign.
“But most of all this is terrible politics. Starmer’s position is indistinguishable from Theresa May’s negotiating stance. There is no sign in European capitals that there is any prospect of the settlement they envisage on this crucial question.
“To hold out the prospect of a deal that is wrong in principle and impossible to realise in practice is bad politics.
“We urge Labour to put forward a positive message on the type of deal we need that defends all that is progressive in the current relationship with Europe, including free movement.”
14th December 2016