Sir Keir Starmer is to be congratulated – and not just for refusing to be overtalked by Andrew Marr.
The veteran interviewer tried to interrupt Sir Keir on many occasions but succeeded on few, as the new Labour spokesman on exiting the EU steamed on with his points.
Perhaps it is the fact that he is a former barrister and Director of Public Prosecutions that gave Sir Keir the advantage. Mr Marr employs interruptions as a tactic to put interviewees off-guard and get them to say things they would otherwise have avoided, given time to think. Not this time.
The debate threw up some interesting points:
The Tory claim that having a vote on the terms of Brexit negotiations would “thwart the will of the British people” is, of course, nonsense. It would thwart the will of the Tories, which is to hide what they are doing and present any deal to the public as a ‘fait accompli’ that we would have to accept, like it or not.
Sir Keir’s comment that many migrant workers are employed here because of a skills shortage is absolutely correct and a direct result of the fashion for outsourcing among neoliberal governments of the past three or four decades.
Just as it was cheaper to outsource our manufacturing industries to countries where the workforce could be made to work for a pittance, it was cheaper to stop training UK citizens for the jobs that remained and simply rely on foreign workers who had been trained abroad.
Considered in this manner, it is a miracle we have any members of the indigenous population working at all.
Sir Keir came close to nailing another reason we have a high immigration rate at the moment, which is the entry of the eastern European countries, whose economies are less developed than those of the western countries, into the European Union, with its ‘free movement of workers’ rule.
What a shame he didn’t point out that the EU could have saved itself a lot of pain if it had stipulated that these countries must take advantage of the union’s economic improvement programmes, bringing themselves up to a similar level as the others, before free movement was phased in. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
He could also have pointed out that resentment of migrant workers is also fuelled by the fear that they are taking up services that are meant for UK-born citizens – and that this fear has been created by the Conservative Government’s rationing of those services, as detailed previously in This Blog.
MPs should vote on the terms of Brexit negotiations, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said.
Sir Keir told the BBC the referendum result “has to be accepted” but accused the PM of trying to “manoeuvre without any scrutiny” on how to achieve it.
He also said he believed immigration should be reduced, by increasing British workers’ skills.
Sir Keir, who returned to Labour’s front bench last week in a reshuffle following Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader, told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “The referendum is clear and has to be accepted and we can’t have a re-run of the question that was put to the country earlier this year.
“But, and it’s a big but, there has to be democratic grip of the process and, at the moment, what the prime minister’s trying to do is to manoeuvre without any scrutiny in Parliament and that’s why the terms on, which we’re going to negotiate absolutely have to be put to a vote in the House.”
Downing Street said his call for a vote was “an attempt to find another way to thwart the will of the British people.”
The government intends to trigger Article 50, the official process for exiting the EU, by the end of March 2017.
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