Ruth Cadbury, Labour's candidate seeking re-election in Brentford and Isleworth, was joined on the campaign trail in Brentford by Keir Starmer, Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary at the weekend. The pair met with business people to discuss Labour's approach to Brexit and the implications of a Tory hard Brexit on the local and national economy.
Keir Starmer said; 'I believe it is possible to reach a good deal with the EU. But the tone and approach has to change - we must have a 21st century grown up negotiation.
“Theresa May is saying that no deal is better than a bad deal, it is very worrying that the Prime Minster of this country has not put the economy further up her list of priorities. Her belligerent and reckless approach has signalled to the EU that we don't want a close or collaborative relationship with them, and is giving the impression that we want to isolate ourselves and not play our part on the global stage
“Just because we will no longer be a member of the EU, doesn't mean we don't need to work together. What we need is a partnership with the EU. And crucially, we must retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union.
'More than 40 per cent of our trade is with the EU. Throughout history, countries have always traded with the those closest to them and we need a trading arrangement that works. I have spoken to 100s of companies and to numerous trade unions across the country, for the UK's economic success, they have all told me that we need;
- low tariffs
- no new customs barriers
- regulatory alignment
- work place rights need to be protected so there is no race to the bottom.
- we must get the chronology of the negotiations right.
“Ending up with no deal is not an option we can contemplate. This would result in;
- having no mechanism to share information across borders on terrorism
- having to use WTO rules which would introduce tariffs
- having no arrangement for EU nationals here and UK nationals across Europe
- having no agreement about borders in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar
- aircraft leaving from UK airports not being able to fly over Europe as all aviation regulations are EU wide.
'It is essential that we safeguard the rights of EU citizens living here, the UK must take this step immediately and that is what I, as Brexit Secretary, would do. People cannot be used as bargaining chips. We can pass legislation now protecting the rights of EU citizens, this is the right and proper thing to do. We must give people peace of mind, and also protect the economy and the onus is on the UK to do this.
'No deal would lead to very serious problems. If there is no deal, then there is a real danger that this will lead to a huge amount of emergency legislation in March 2019. And as a lawyer, I know the dangers of enacting rushed legislation.”
Ruth Cadbury added; 'Businesses here are very worried about Brexit. Already, it’s had an impact on recruitment across numerous sectors including hospitality and construction. The majority of people in this constituency voted Remain, as did I, which is why I voted against triggering article 50.
“At our meeting, Keir Starmer outlined Labour’s approach, we will focus on ensuring that the UK gets the best deal to protect the economy, jobs, for workers and consumer rights, and for the environment.
“The Tory candidate in Brentford & Isleworth has repeatedly said she will support Theresa May and David Davis in everything they do. In the election on Thursday, in a constituency which voted Remain, I will fight against a hard Brexit, which is something my Tory opponent clearly won't do.
'I won in 2015 with a majority of 465, so every vote really does count in this constituency.”
Attendees at the meeting represented a broad range of industries including hospitality, media, technology, construction and academia.
Supporting quotes from attendees at the meeting:
Andrew Ward, Director of Corporate Relations, Brunel University London:
“It was a real privilege to meet Keir Starmer with Ruth Cadbury – Brentford and Isleworth’s next MP - to discuss Brexit. It was clear that the businesses, employer representative groups and others attending were impressed by the grip that Keir had on the issues effecting business: for example, the resolution of the status of EU employees in the UK; data protection and intellectual property concerns; and the continued UK engagement in the EU agencies for security and policing. It was so refreshing to have a conversation based on people’s direct engagement with the challenges and threats of Brexit rather than having to listen to the usual clichés and embarrassing posturing of Mrs May and her assembly.
Nigel Bidwell, architect and partner of an architectural firm practising in West London:
“I work in the design and construction industries, I am worried about how Brexit is going to impact on these industries. If we are to build the housing the country so desperately needs, we have to have the workforce with the necessary skills to do so. The uncertainty around the status of EU citizens living and working here has the potential to harm our economy.”
David O"Connor, President of Brentford Chamber of Commerce:
“More than 30 per cent of people working in hospitality in West London are EU nationals. People are already leaving the country because of the uncertainty around what will happen to them and their families after Brexit. We are already struggling to find staff, if EU nationals are not given the right to remain as soon as the negotiations begin, the hospitality industry won't have the workforce it needs.”