David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

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Responding to John Longworth’s Red Box article in The Times, (Brexit means cheaper food for Britons) David Martin comments on Mr Longworth's lack of knowledge of EU trade policy. (Published in The Times, 19 December 2016, here)

John Longworth’s Red Box article “Brexit means cheaper food for Britons” displayed an alarming lack of knowledge about the EU’s trade policy as well as a reckless disregard for the wider UK economy.

His chief policy, leaving the single market and unilaterally reducing tariffs on all products, might indeed mean some cheaper goods in British stores. But what Mr Longworth failed to mention was that this strategy would “effectively eliminate manufacturing” in the UK, as well as pricing other export sectors out of international competitiveness. Not my words but those of Professor Patrick Minford, the economist cited in his article.

Slightly cheaper food is no good to people who have seen their jobs and communities decimated by unregulated imports.
In addition, these price gains would more than likely be offset by the other negative consequences of his preferred hard brexit scenario, namely a reduction of GDP of 7.5 percent — according to Treasury figures — and a drastic reduction in purchasing power thanks to the plummeting pound.

Furthermore, he then contradicts himself by declaring that “we would need to protect strategic industries, including agriculture”. This protection of the agricultural sector and other sensitive industries is exactly why the EU places tariffs and regulations on certain products in the first place. They ensure both a decent wage for British farmers as well as high quality products for consumers.

He goes on to mention oranges and bananas. He might be interested to learn that the EU this week ratified a trade deal with Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of bananas, for reduced-tariff access to our markets. In June the EU also signed a deal with South Africa and its neighbours, which liberalises trade in out of season oranges, exactly the “new” kind of policy that he suggests in his article.

This is on top of the 50 fifty or so countries with whom the EU has already agreed preferential trade agreements. It is also on top of the unilateral tariff-free and tariff-reduced access for fruit, vegetables and a whole host of other products that the EU already gives to the world’s developing economies through different schemes, providing cheaper food for British families as well as helping those countries to grow.

It is clear that the majority of things Mr Longworth was calling for already exist within the EU’s internal market and its external trade policy. Outside the EU the UK will have to try to set up a similar tariff regime with other countries, although we are extremely unlikely to get as good a deal because of our relative lack of size and clout in trade negotiations.

The British farming and food industry have made it very clear that Brexit would mean rising food costs. We should now adopt policies that respect the will of the people but that can limit the damage. Policies that do not harm the long-term economic health of this country and are not detrimental to the prices and choices to which Britons are used.

Maintaining our membership of the single market is the first and most important step towards achieving these goals.
The British people voted to the leave the EU but they did not vote to become poorer. Nor did they vote for a free-market ideology that will exacerbate the problems many voters thought Brexit would solve.

Exiting on the terms proposed by Mr Longworth and his allies risks doubling down on the negative economic consequences of Brexit. It would be disastrous for ordinary working people and must be avoided.

Brexit policy should focus on damage limitation

Responding to John Longworth’s Red Box article in The Times, (Brexit means cheaper food for Britons) David Martin comments on Mr Longworth's lack of knowledge of EU trade policy. (Published in The Times,...

David Martin MEP has strongly condemned the statement from outgoing President Jammeh announcing that he does not accept the outcome of the recent Gambian elections and that his opinion declares the result ‘null and void’:

"This is an affront to democracy and betrayal of the rights of all Gambians.

"Jammeh’s regime is notorious for its extensive repression of opposition figures and activists. The Gambian people elected President-elect Barrow fairly and freely by a clear majority and their decision must be upheld. It is not for individuals to decide the veracity of an election.

"The Chairman of the Electoral Commission has confirmed that a recount will not change the result. I commend his bravery and resilience. There is no legal basis on for President Jammeh to annul the elections. This is an obvious and reprehensible attempt to retain his 22-year grip on power and rob his people of a democratic election.

"I welcome the statement by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, the UN Security Council, Ghana and others urging President Jammeh to respect the outcome of the election and stand aside peacefully. Until such a time, I urge all parties to remain calm and vigilant against disruptive forces. The sudden increase in military presence on the streets in the Gambia is an unacceptable and a worrying sign of President Jammeh’s insecurity.

"It is crucial that all parties reject any violence and adhere to the rule of law. The Gambia’s election two weeks ago was a beacon of hope to many across the region who also hope for free, fair, peaceful elections where the popular verdict wins the day.

"I call on President Jammeh to abide by the sovereign will of his people, withdraw his rejection of the election results and facilitate a peaceful and smooth transfer of power to the President-elect. The Gambian people deserve certainty for the future they voted for."

 

David Martin MEP: “The decision of the Gambian people must be upheld”

David Martin MEP has strongly condemned the statement from outgoing President Jammeh announcing that he does not accept the outcome of the recent Gambian elections and that his opinion declares...

Following today’s Foreign Affairs Council on Trade, David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland and International Trade Spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats, said:

“This further setback in reforming the EU’s trade defence instruments will have serious consequences on the lives of thousands of working people and their families. Whilst other countries seem ready for a compromise, due to British stubbornness over the Lesser Duty rule these critical measures have again been delayed and diluted, further threatening EU industry and those that depend on it.

Only yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer was saying that Chinese dumping of steel was still a problem. But it appears they are happy to say one thing in public whilst doing the opposite when cloaked by the privacy of the EU Council chamber. At best this is a sign of government disunity and incompetence, at worst it is a wilful deception of the British people.

Mrs. May doesn’t seem to have learned anything from Brexit or Trump’s victory this week. Whether it is the Mid-West rust belt or Britain’s deindustrialised cities and regions, ordinary voters are angry that they’ve been left behind whilst a minority prospers. For the British manufacturing sector to survive and grow again we must guarantee them a level playing field and protect them from unfair competition.”

This follows Wednesday’s proposal by the Commission to amend the 2016 anti-dumping regulation in light of developments in the WTO related to China’s accession protocol. On this subject, Mr Martin said:

“European trade unions were out in force during Wednesday’s demonstrations, alongside steel and other manufacturing companies. On this issue, workers and their employers are united: this new proposal does not address the real and urgent concerns related to overcapacity and dumping.

EU industry needs an anti-dumping methodology which properly reflects the levels of state interference and subsidies in the Chinese economy.”

 

UK manufacturing sector needs a level playing field and protection from unfair competition

Following today’s Foreign Affairs Council on Trade, David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland and International Trade Spokesperson for the Socialists and Democrats, said:


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