The real impact of Brexit on the West Midlands

We are only one month into the New Year and already the government has been plunged into deeper crisis over Brexit. The leaked impact reports, compiled by the government's own economists, confirmed what we already knew about the effects of Brexit. However, the government's complete dismissal of its own civil servants' work is newly worrying.

The West Midlands is the region expected to suffer the most from Brexit, due to its impact on our huge manufacturing and export sector. The Department for Exiting the EU predicts a soft Brexit would cost the West Midlands 2.5 per cent of GDP over the next 15 years. A hard Brexit, with a Canada-style free trade deal would shrink our region's GDP by eight per cent. While a no-deal scenario, with the UK left to trade on WTO terms, would slash 13 per cent from the West Midlands’s GDP. What about trade deals with countries outside of the EU? The report expects that a future trade deal with the US would add just 0.2% to GDP, and treaties with other non-EU countries would add a somewhere between 0.1 and 0.4%.

The government's reaction to these shocking statistics has so far been to ignore them. This is really concerning. Brexit is the single most consequential policy any government has pursued since the second world war. We therefore need a government that takes a fact-based approach, rather than one which acts on bluster. The Labour Party has been clear that it will not sacrifice jobs for Brexit and I agree that maintaining opportunity and employment always has to be the priority.

Thoughts the morning after the 2017 General Election

Let’s have no doubt, Last night was historic. In spite of the polls, in spite of pundits, and in spite of the newspapers, The Labour Party has prevented the Tory party from gaining a majority.

Ever since 1979, The Sun has called every single election winner. Until today. On yesterday’s front page, The Sun - the UK’s most read newspaper - falsely described Jeremy Corbyn as The fiend of a terrorist, a Marxist Extremist and a destroyer of jobs. But the public picked up these newspapers, read these lies, and threw them in the bin.


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Labour needs to win back its disaffected voters – and the leaked manifesto looks set to do just that

This article was first published in The Independent on 11 May 2017

Canvassing in May has become a ritual of the political cycle in my role as a Labour MEP, but this year was different. We were campaigning for a new position, the West Midland’s first ever Metro Mayor. And though the region has been a Labour fortress, there were ominous signs that Tory invaders were at the gate. The Conservative candidate’s massive £1m campaign spend dwarfed that of our Labour candidate, Siôn Simon. The greater name recognition this gave Andy Street ultimately paid off. In the end, Labour lost by an excruciating 3,766 votes.

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Let's settle the Brexit bill - then get on with a new deal

First published in The Independent on 3rd May, 2017.

The EU without the UK – known in Brussels-speak and this article as the EU27 – remains a deeply divided place. With disputes over migrant quotas, the continued tension between creditor and debtor countries, and the endless debate about whether to move towards an ever closer union, in most areas the EU27 cannot claim to speak with one voice. However, the UK appears to have done European unity a favour. In my 13 years as an MEP, I have never seen my continental colleagues as united as in their approach to Brexit.

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Starmer’s speech got it right – Theresa May’s white paper shows how dangerous a Tory tax haven Brexit will be

First published in LabourList on 30th April, 2017.

When Theresa May called an early general election, she was right to speak about the importance of forming a partnership with a “strong and successful European Union”. But only Labour’s approach, set out by Keir Starmer on Tuesday, can achieve this.

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David Davis's rare moment of realism

David Davis's remarks that we may have to pay into the EU to stay part of the single market is a rare moment of realism and honesty from the Brexit department. Answering a question in Parliament Davis skirted around the question before saying that accessing the single market was important and that "if that [financial contributions] is included ... then of course we would consider it."

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November: Trump and High Court Rulings

For the second time this year, millions of people were shocked that it seemed once again fear had overcome courage, ignorance had beaten knowledge and hatred had overshadowed love. There are definitely links between the US election and the referendum result in this country and it is important that we seek to understand the underlying causes of such radical shifts in the political landscape. A key lesson from all these experiences is that there are bridges that need to be built in all communities.

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'We don't want to be alienated': EU citizens stand firm against Brexit [The Guardian - 25th November 2016]

I was asked to speak at an event at the Library of Birmingham, talking with people about what kind of Brexit they wanted. It was not the first time I had done these events, I took part in several before the referendum. It was, however, the first time that the room was full to the brim with people eager to get their views across. The conversation certainly got heated, showing that there are still some deep divides in this country; that isn't what I took away from this event though. We heard from so many non-UK EU citizens who had faced abuse and uncertainty since the referendum. It was heart-breaking to hear about parents whose children who had been born in this country now wondering what they should do next.  James Carver, a UKIP MEP who was also speaking at the event kept reassuring these people they were welcome here but that certainly hasn't been the line of his party. It's also not for him to say, Theresa May has not made any clear statements about the future of citizens from the continent and what their future holds - she needs to listen to these stories and stop using dithering on such a critical issue. 

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Brexit is already causing a staffing crisis in our hospitals [Birmingham Post - 16 November, 2016]

We have not even started the formal negotiations to leave the EU yet and we are already having problems in our local health services. Racist abuse of staff, nurses returning home and funding cuts are all impacting front-line services. The Government needs to act quickly, peoples lives and livelihoods are being impacted by the lack of direction from the Government.

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September: What Brexit means is anyone's guess

We've seen a political roll-a-coaster over the last few months. Alongside the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, we have the the three brexiteers in key cabinet positions. Given the lack of knowledge these three demonstrated during the the EU referendum I am not sure whether to laugh or cry about their new cabinet positions. 

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