Labour conference and free movement

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From the Labour Campaign for Free Movement

Liverpool, 24 September 2018

  • Compromise motion likely to pass tomorrow after agreement between delegates from unions and local parties

  • Proposal condemns May’s Brexit plans for threatening free movement, rejects blaming migration for social problems

  • Migrant rights campaigners welcome ‘major first step’, say there is still a long way to go

Labour Party conference is likely to endorse a motion that commits the party to defending the free movement of people with Europe, and a pro-migrant narrative against the right.

The compromise motion was hammered out in a meeting that lasted deep into Monday night. Party activists said that this arrival at an agreement between over one hundred delegates from the unions and local parties, as well as shadow cabinet representatives, makes it unlikely that conference will reject the proposal.

It condemns the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy for threatening the free movement of people, and argues that “Stagnant wages, crumbling services and the housing crisis are being exacerbated by the government and employers making the rich richer at working people’s expense, and not immigration.” The proposal also seeks “full participation” in the Single Market, which is not possible without free movement of people. EU sources had indicated last month that free movement could be dropped, but only in a “Jersey Model” deal involving more limited Single Market involvement.

Ana Oppenheim, organiser for the Labour Campaign for Free Movement (LCFM) internal pressure group, said:

“If passed by conference, this motion represents a major first step, guaranteeing that our party will fight any attempt to strip millions of Britons and Europeans of their existing free movement rights. It will be a powerful springboard for our continuing campaign to extend the migration rights of both EU and non-EU migrants, and in the coming months we will continue to fight for policies including the further extension of free movement, the abolition of all detention centres, and an end to discriminatory attacks on access to the NHS and social security.”

Joshua Lovell, the LCFM supporter and Momentum activist who proposed migrant rights measures on behalf of his local party in the negotiations, said:

“The recent Migration Advisory Committee report showed that migration has little or no effect on wages and unemployment, and we know Theresa May attempted to suppress nine more reports proving the same. The unanimous agreement in the motion negotiations to identify the rich and powerful, not immigration, as the culprits behind the social crises we face, shows that we have conclusively put to bed the discredited Tory lies that seek to divide working people by birthplace.”

Obi Saiq, a BECTU union rep in the Picturehouse cinema strikes, said:

“It’s my colleagues, migrant and British workers striking together for a living wage and better maternity pay, who are improving living standards for working class people – not the racists who want to set us against one another and raise the borders. It’s up to the labour movement to provide real solutions: freeing us to stand up for ourselves by repealing the all anti-union laws, and taxing the wealth of the rich and big business to invest in higher wages, secure jobs, and good public services for everyone.”

Notes

1. For more information please email info@labourfreemovement.org or ring Ana on 07895405312, Michael on 07964791663 or Ben on 07949902990

2. The Labour Campaign for Free Movement was founded in August 2017 to campaign inside Labour for defending and extending the free movement of people and the rights of migrants. It has over 3000 listed supporters (at www.labourfreemovement.org/who) including Labour MPs including Clive Lewis and Catherine West, trade union leaders and prominent campaigners including Owen Jones

3. Labour Party conference is currently taking place in Liverpool between 22nd and 26th September.

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