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The UK party manifestos
13 May, 2019

Good, bad and non-existent

London4Europe Committee Member Michael Romberg looks at the UK party manifestos for the European Parliament elections. A companion article looks at the manifestos of the European Party Groups with which most MEPs sit.

London4Europe is all-party and non-party. We take a view only on the parties’ stance on the UK’s relationship with the EU. There are many ways of being pro-European – voters need to choose which party is right for them.

The Brexit Party, Conservatives, Labour and UKIP all advocate Brexit. That means that they wish that the UK’s MEPs should not sit in the European Parliament, helping to guide the future of Europe. No matter what is in the rest of the manifesto, there must be a real question whether a vote for any party that supports Brexit can be seen as a vote “for Europe” in any real sense.

 

** updated 24 May with confirmation of which group the Greens would support **

 

UK PARTY MANIFESTOS

Brexit Party

The Brexit Party does not plan to issue a manifesto or policies until after the elections. Does this not symbolise the whole Brexit story? Vote first, find out afterwards what your vote means.

The party’s leaflet shows that they focus on a betrayal narrative rather than any specifics on Brexit. The party's website has little more by way of content.

 

Change UK

“Remain in Europe. Remain prosperous. Remain healthy. Remain united on tackling climate change. Remain stronger in the world.”

 

Manifesto stance on Brexit

“… we will campaign for Remain, making the positive case for Britain in Europe ”

 

Manifesto stance on a Referendum

“The only way to reconcile the country is to give the final say on whether to proceed with Brexit, as it is today, to the people.”

MEPs will “… seek to amend any Brexit ‘deal’ presented to the European Parliament so that it is subject to a People’s Vote ”

 

Manifesto statement on the future of Europe

Much of the theme of the opening of the manifesto is that UK politics is broken. There is an emphasis on shared values. The largest part of the manifesto is concerned with exposing the harms of Brexit and lauding the advantages of the being in the EU. Some is about mitigating the harms if Brexit takes place. It is not always clear whether a general policy approach is primarily about the UK or the EU.

“But it is not simply that we are better off in the EU. For many, of all generations, being part of Europe is an expression of British values. One of the most inspiring things about the past few years has been an increasingly patriotic movement which is proud of Britain and is unapologetically pro-European. … Your values are ours.”

Change UK would argue for EU reform, including: ending the move of the European Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg; focus on skills and a preparedness of workers for automation in the workplace; support free movement; advocate more fair trade deals to ensure we get better social, economic and environmental outcomes; support action on climate change and other environmental protection; speak up for liberal values against those parts of Europe that call for “illiberal democracy”; support efforts to stabilise the EU’s “near abroad” but not turn away search and rescue boats from safe harbour; stand shoulder to shoulder with European partners against the threat from Russia; support EU action on corporate tax avoidance and evasion, internet safety and climate change.

  

Party Group they would support in the European Parliament

Not stated. I have asked. There has been a report that they will not decide until after the election.

 

National party policy statement on Brexit/ referendum

The home page has a fairly new banner “For a people's vote. For remain.

However, the statement of values only has “We believe in maintaining strong alliances with our closest European and international allies on trade, regulation, defence, security and counter-terrorism.” And “We believe that our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.

 

Web-links

Charter for Remain (manifesto). Party’s website. Party’s statement of values.

 

Conservative Party

It is not certain that the Conservative Party will be publishing a manifesto. If it does we will update this post.

 

Web-links

Party website. Election leaflet.

 

Green Party

“Right now. For the future”

 

Manifesto stance on Brexit and a Referendum

“A vote for the Green Party in these elections is a vote to Remain in the EU, through putting the question of Brexit back to the people and mobilising a positive, pro-European movement to win the People’s Vote for Remain.”

“The Green Party will play a leading role in mobilising a positive pro-European movement to contest the referendum, to convincingly set out how a vote for Remain will build a better future for all. A People’s Vote and a Remain victory can be the start of the genuine social and economic transformation this country needs – toxic top-down politics banished, with people power taking its place. Together we can put the difficult years behind us, and lift its shadow from our families, communities and country.”

 

Manifesto statement on the future of Europe

“Calls for real action on climate are coming from every corner of Britain and beyond. No country can tackle this threat alone. We’ll deliver a renewables revolution across the continent ”

The Green Party manifesto focuses almost entirely on the party’s rôle in the European Parliament. While climate change and a wide range of other environmental issues are a key priority for the party, they have past achievements and future policy positions across a wide range of EU topics, including: tax justice; labour protection for the gig economy; experiment with Citizens Basic Income; limit the market power of big corporations; improve high skill jobs; more protection of minorities; more mechanisms to hold to account member states underperforming on democratic measures; improve the condition of migrants and provide safe legal routes into the EU.

 

Party Group they would support in the European Parliament

The manifesto does not say.  I asked the party and they confirmed that it would be the European Green Party/ Free Alliance Group.

 

National party policy statement on Brexit/ referendum

The Green Party “will support and campaign for a new #PeoplesVote referendum”.

The Green Party “opposes Brexit and will campaign for the UK remaining a member of the EU”

 

Web-links

UK Party manifesto. UK party policy resolution on Brexit. Green Party websiteEuropean Green manifesto.

 

Labour Party

“Transforming Britain and Europe for the many not the few.”

 

Manifesto stance on Brexit

Labour has put forward an alternative plan to seek a close and cooperative relationship with the European Union, including a new comprehensive customs union with a UK say, close single market alignment, guaranteed rights and standards, and the protection of the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.

We believe such a deal could bring our country back together and deliver on the result of the referendum. 

 

Manifesto stance on a Referendum

Labour will continue to oppose the Government’s bad deal or a disastrous no deal. And if we can’t get agreement along the lines of our alternative plan, or a general election, Labour backs the option of a public vote.

If the Government is confident that it has negotiated a deal that benefits our economy and our communities then they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.

  

Manifesto statement on the future of Europe

The manifesto is focussed on Westminster issues including what Labour would do post Brexit eg maintain access to the European Arrest Warrant and protections for EU citizens already living here.

It gives maybe a third of its text (on a generous interpretation that say trade policy is about the EU rather than just post-Brexit UK) to EU policy – in this copy of the manifesto I have highlighted the passages that deal with policies Labour would support in the EU.

The party backs a wide range of EU policies, including: directing EU investment to struggling areas; changing procurement and competition laws to support areas that need investment most and a greener economy; support only trade deals that protect public services, protect industries against dumping and cheap imitations, and prevent a race to the bottom; support EU work to close tax loopholes; introduce a tax on financial transactions; pledges on climate change; strengthen health and safety laws; strengthen EU fire safety rules; a disability strategy.

 

Party Group they would support in the European Parliament

Party of European Socialists (who sit in the Parliament as the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats)

 

National party policy statement on Brexit/ referendum

2017 general election manifesto: pro-Brexit and ending freedom of movement. Jeremy Corbyn 2018 conference speech offering to support the Government on Brexit. 2018 Party Conference resolution opposing a Tory Brexit that fails Labour’s six tests or No-deal, calling then for a general election and if no general election then all options to be on the table including campaigning for a public vote. Jeremy Corbyn making clear that in a general election Labour would campaign for Brexit.

 

Web-links

Labour Party European Elections manifesto. Labour Party websiteParty of European Socialists. Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

 

Liberal Democrat Party

“Stop Brexit” (I am aware that there are two authorised versions of the party’s slogan….)

 

Manifesto stance on Brexit

“The Liberal Democrats’ vision for Britain is a country that has remained at the heart of a dynamic European Union.”

“Instead of letting Brexit consume the next decade, let’s focus on tackling climate change, building the best health and education systems in the world and tackling the inequalities that limit life chances for so many people.”

 

Manifesto stance on a Referendum

“We passionately believe that Britain is stronger as part of the European Union and we have led the fight to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.”

 

Manifesto statement on the future of Europe

The Liberal Democrat vision is one built around a free, democratic, entrepreneurial, prosperous, sustainable and united Europe open to the world. A Europe anchored in the four freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital.

In addition to a clear commitment to stop Brexit there is an extended paean to European values, the achievements of the EU, including freedom of movement, and the benefits of EU membership across areas like education, research, crime prevention, security.

The manifesto addresses future EU policies such as: clamping down on abuses by global corporations such as tax avoidance, exploiting consumers, preventing competition and misuse of personal data; better trade deals with higher standards for employees, animal welfare, food quality, anti-corruption; support for digital Europe, including creating the first legal framework for new technologies such as artificial intelligence; action against cyber-crime; support for innovation; renewing the social contract in Europe so that everyone can participate in thriving economies; tackling climate change and other environmental issues such as deforestation and biodiversity; sanctions against member states that violate protections against unlawful discrimination, including making EU funding conditional on upholding the rule of law; support for asylum seekers; all EU countries to implement the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence; more defence co-operation; more EU support for Ukraine and the maintenance of sanctions against the aggressor Russia; improving the quality of EU aid projects; having only one location for the Parliament (Brussels); changing the Common Agricultural Policy to meet sustainability goals.

There are few UK policies. One is to improve Parliament’s ability to hold Ministers to account on the UK’s negotiations with the EU and on EU legislation. They also call for a Brexit Support Fund to help areas and business already damaged by Brexit uncertainty.

 

Party Group they would support in the European Parliament

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

 

National party policy statement on Brexit/ referendum

“We believe that Britain is better off in the EU. That's why we're fighting for an Exit from Brexit.”

“The Liberal Democrats want to give you the final say on the Brexit deal.

 

Web-links

Liberal Democrat Manifesto. Liberal Democrat Party website. ALDE manifesto (#Renew Europe)

 

UKIP

 “Vote UKIP to make Brexit happen”.

 

Manifesto stance on Brexit and a Referendum

UKIP see the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration as “a complete surrender” – the Referendum decision has been “betrayed by the political class in Westminster”. They would “leave the EU under the policy of unilateral and unconditional withdrawal”.

The Party opposes a second referendum.

 

Web-links

Party website. Manifesto. Statement of principles

 

 

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