Securing Britain’s approach to Putin’s Russia is critical post-Brexit

The Times When the Olympic track and field events get under way in Rio next week the sizeable contingent of Russian athletes will be missing. Given that they are banned as a result of the long overdue exposure of a state-sponsored Russian doping programme, it may seem odd to us in the west that Vladimir Putin should protest that his athletes have been subject to ‘blatant discrimination’. But most Russians will back him wholeheartedly – even if he does not truly believe it himself. Sporting achievement is a deeply important part of the Russian psyche; and in Russian politics impulse and emotion are far more important than we realise. Russians’ understanding of their nation’s relationship with the west is steeped in decades of angst and suspicion, as well as the ancient belief that Mother Russia has historically been denied the respect she deserves. I have written in these pages before that we must understand this national mentality if we are to achieve the sort of respect-based realism that the UK-Russian relationship demands. Continue reading

MPs Seema Malhotra and Stephen Kinnock lay out a 6-point plan for Brexit

The New Statesman Angela Merkel has called on Theresa May to “take her time” and “take a moment to identify Britain’s interests” before invoking Article 50. We know that is code for the “clock is ticking” and also that we hardly have any idea what the Prime Minister means by “Brexit means Brexit.” We have no time to lose to seek to safeguard what is best in from our membership of the European Union. We also need to face some uncomfortable truths. Yes, as remain campaigners we were incredibly disappointed by the result. However we also recognise the need to move forward with the strongest possible team to negotiate the best deal for Britain and maintain positive relationships with our nearest neighbours and allies. Continue reading

Brexit: It’s time for politicians from all parties to work together, in the national interest

My article for the Evening Post Friday 15th July 1 Okay, cards on table: I strongly believe that our national interest is best served when our country is a full member of the EU, and that's why I campaigned passionately for Remain. But the electorate has spoken, and we must now move forward. Neath Port Talbot voted to leave the EU, and as the MP for Aberavon I have heard that message, loud and clear. Given the very worrying signs we have already seen that the vote may lead to a serious and prolonged economic downturn, I can understand the clamour for a second referendum. But we cannot continue to hold referendums repeatedly, until we get the result we want. We must now respect the outcome of the vote, and accept that our future lies outside the EU. My job as the MP for Aberavon is therefore to do whatever I can to secure the best possible Brexit deal for the UK, and for my constituency. For the UK to formally leave the EU we must invoke Article 50, but this must only happen once we have agreed and settled on a basic negotiating position. The first step will be to define what is meant by ‘the best possible deal’.   Continue reading

How to rebuild trust in politics and business after Brexit

New Statesman It would certainly be an understatement to say that the past few weeks have been tumultuous. The referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union has questioned many of the old certainties, and will undoubtedly shape our national politics for years to come. But the vote to Leave wasn’t just a vote to leave the EU, it was also a vote to leave the old way of doing things. Westminster must hear that, and I will be doing all I can to ensure that is the case. That is why, despite being a passionate supporter of our EU membership, I will ensure that the will of my constituents is done. It's time for politicians across all parties to roll up their sleeves and get to work on securing the best possible deal for our country. Continue reading

Parliament must have a role in Brexit negotiations

Politics Home Along with many colleagues and campaigners for Remain, we were deeply disappointed by the decision for Britain to leave the European Union. But we also recognise the need to accept the result and move forward with the strongest possible team to negotiate the best deal for Britain, and to maintain positive relationships with our nearest neighbours and allies. We have today written to the Prime Minister to ask him to urgently address how we ensure a strong voice for Parliament in the negotiations. Continue reading

Jeremy Corbyn is a great campaigner – but we need a hard-headed negotiator

Guardian The referendum campaign was a sorry affair and it’s clear that it was not the Labour party’s finest hour. Every pro-Remain member will be feeling the same deep sense of disappointment and regret that I am feeling this weekend, as we have failed, collectively, to save the UK from a reckless leap into the unknown, and we fear it is the people we came into politics to represent who will be hurt first and worst. Looking back, it’s clear that once the Scottish, Welsh and local elections were out of the way on 6 May, then we should have treated the period through to 23 June as if it were the short campaign period leading up to a general election. Judged against that benchmark, it is equally clear that our leader fought a lacklustre and half-hearted campaign. He spoke at a total of 10 rallies between 6 May and polling day, whereas the party leader would normally expect to achieve that level of activity in a week, when in full campaigning mode. We must, therefore, have a full and frank discussion when the parliamentary Labour party meets on Monday, to look at what went wrong, and what we should learn. Our leader must be held accountable for the failure of the “Labour In For Britain” campaign, as must we all. Continue reading

Those saying we must ‘take our country back’ need to realise the consequences

Guardian Jo Cox was a friend of mine and of my family. We shared an office – two wide-eyed new MPs trying to navigate the strange world of Westminster together. We were friends before that too. She had worked as an adviser to my mum, Glenys, and we considered her a friend of our family. She lit up any room she walked into, with her raucous laugh and infectious good humour. She was a wonderful mother, doting on her two young children, Cuillin and Lejla, and beaming with pride whenever she spoke about them. And she cared. She cared about her community and the people she served with such pride in Batley and Spen, where she grew up. She cared about justice for the people she met in war zones and in unspeakable poverty around the world. She cared about everyone she met, which is why everyone who met her for just a few minutes walked away knowing they had met someone special. My heart goes out to her husband Brendan and their children. I cannot even begin to understand their pain. Just writing these words about her in the past tense breaks my heart all over again. Continue reading

Labour must not let the Brexiters turn the EU referendum into a right-wing coup

New Statesman The clear and unequivocal view of the Labour Party is that, whatever its shortcomings, we must vote to Remain in the European Union. No major UK party is as united on the issue as ours. Ninety four per cent of the Parliamentary Party support Remain, and we have been campaigning week in, week out in our constituencies for continued British membership. Moreover, 83 per cent of Labour members support Remain (only 10 per cent want Britain to Leave). No other major national party can boast such a united front. Yet as was reported last week, Labour voters are "uniformly uncertain" about whether our party is campaigning to Remain in the EU. Our supporters seem to be saying that they either don’t know what Labour MPs think about the EU, or, those who know that we are for Remain believe that our "heart isn’t in it". Continue reading

Brexit and Churchill's Three 'Majestic Circles'

Demos Before becoming the part-time Mayor of London, Boris Johnson fancied himself as something of a historian. In his biography of Winston Churchill, he observed that, “To some extent, all politicians are gamblers with events. They try to anticipate what will happen, to put themselves on the right side of history.” One can’t help but picture Johnson, the Blonde Opportunist, pondering whether Remain or Leave would best serve the cause in which he most fervently believes – himself. And, seen through that lens, he concluded that backing Brexit would be his fast-track ticket to Number 10. For Boris, the ‘right side of history’ ends with him in Downing Street; the national interest comes a distant second. Continue reading

Owning The Future

Progress Online In their far-sighted article for Juncture on the coming decade and the future of the left, Gavin Kelly and Nick Pearce offer a comprehensive and compelling analysis of the underlying forces that will shape British politics for the remainder of this decade, and beyond. At the heart of their piece is the argument that any political party that fails to ‘intuit the future’ will inevitably be ‘eaten by the past’ – a warning that we in the Labour party would be well advised to heed. According to Kelly and Pearce politics is being reshaped by a set of interrelated demographic, economic and cultural shifts, and they highlight some of the most significant aspects of each. Continue reading