Press release: Labour conference votes overwhelmingly to defend free movement of people with Europe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Liverpool, 25 September 2018

Labour Party conference has overwhelmingly voted through a policy committing the party to defending the free movement of people with Europe, and to a pro-migrant narrative against the right.

The motion was hammered out in a meeting that lasted deep into Monday night between over one hundred representatives of trade unions, local parties and the shadow cabinet, before being debated and endorsed by a large majority of conference delegates.

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.

During the debate, both TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes, and a delegate from Labour International representing members living abroad, delivered passionate defences of free movement and were positively received by the large majority of delegates.

Also this afternoon, delegates unanimously voted for Labour to continue supporting the Windrush families, and for the next Labour government to end the hostile environment. The conference saw resounding applause during this debate in response to one delegate’s call for the closure of all detention centres.

Joshua Lovell, a Momentum activist and delegate for the Stevenage local party which sent in migrant rights policy, 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. This vote to identify the rich and powerful, not immigration, as the culprits behind the social crises we face – which was echoed in Diane Abbott’s speech immediately afterwards – shows that we have conclusively put to bed the discredited Tory lies that seek to divide working class people by birthplace.”

Ana Oppenheim, organiser for the Labour Campaign for Free Movement (LCFM) internal pressure group, said:
“We welcome this new policy as 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. Nevertheless, our campaign to extend the migration rights of both EU and non-EU migrants has a long way still to go. In the coming months this vote will be a powerful springboard as we 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.”

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.”

ENDS

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 https://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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