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The Article 50 extension gives the UK the time to go back to the people and end the Brexit mess, Labour's Leader in the European Parliament told MEPs today. MEPs were debating last week's European Council, which agreed a six-month extension to October 31, with the session beginning with MEPs uniting to mourn yesterday's Notre Dame tragedy.

Richard Corbett MEP said:

"Thank you, and may I also join those people who have commented on Notre Dame, and in particular your words, Mr Tusk, on sharing the pain of the French people when you said “we are bound by more than just treaties”. That's very true, and that's why I was so shocked, when you said that, that Mr Farage, who is no longer with us as usual, shouted out at that point "rubbish". I think that illustrates the attitude of some of those on that side of the house.

"But they are the voices of the past. The British people are beginning to see through the lies that they have told for years about the European Union. They are beginning to see through the lies they have told about Brexit.

"Remember they told us it would be easy; well it's turning out to be pretty complicated. They told us it would save lots of money that would all go to the National Health Service; it's turning out to cost a fortune. They said there'd be new trade deals ready with countries across the planet to replace any lost trade with Europe, in fact we're losing all the trade deals we have via the European Union if we go ahead with Brexit.

"The British people are beginning to see through that, and that is why the Brexiters are so afraid of having another referendum, because they know what the answer would be if we had one. And that's also why the Conservatives are also afraid of European elections, because they know they would be hammered in those elections.

"But I'm a bit surprised that Mr Verhofstadt and some others in this house were afraid of those elections. There's no need to be afraid. The majority of British Members being returned will not be of the ilk of those on that side of the house! But, in any case, Brexit - the European Union losing a member state for the first time in its history - the consequences of that decision are far more significant than the inconvenience of one group having a few more members than another group in these elections. Have a sense of perspective!

"This extension must be used, as Mr Tusk rightly said. I have no great hopes for the talks between the two front benches, because Mrs May cannot move position without rebellion in her party. But it does give us the time to go back to the people and end this damned mess that we have got ourselves into!"

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notes to Editors:

  1. Richard Corbett MEP's speech can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPDl4p8-Ht8

Labour MEPs: Brexit extension gives us time to go back to the people

The Article 50 extension gives the UK the time to go back to the people and end the Brexit mess, Labour's Leader in the European Parliament told MEPs today. MEPs...

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The reference to Gibraltar as a “colony” in the EU's post-Brexit visa proposals puts the laws at risk of legal challenge, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament today backed the new visa-waiver regime that seeks to ensure British citizens can enjoy visa-free travel to the EU27 and vice-versa if the UK leaves the EU.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“We voted against the visa waiver proposals today because, in regard to references to Gibraltar, it is unacceptable to consent to proposals that contain such a glaring legal deceit.

“Spain’s inclusion of a footnote which incorrectly refers to Gibraltar as a “colony” opens this file up to legal challenge at the European Court of Justice. The result of this deeply flawed process, where the provocative and irrelevant footnote was included, means we may not have effective visa waiver legislation at this crucial time.

"This is both an important point of principle, and a terrible mishandling of this vital file by one member state."

Claude Moraes MEP added:

“I was the original rapporteur on this file was removed as the rapporteur for this legislation specifically as a result of one country being determined to usurp the EU institutional processes for a domestic political point. It is damaging to the Parliament and the EU as a whole that this was allowed to happen.

"I was not prepared to see Spain hold this file hostage in the European Council with an addition that described Gibraltar legally as a “colony”. This was a misuse of our legislative duties.

“If these laws are now challenged and found wanting, those who allowed this to happen will have a lot of explaining to do to the millions of UK and EU27 citizens whose right to visa-free travel will be imperilled.”

Clare Moody MEP, Labour MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, said:

“There was enormous support in the European Parliament to vote in support of the committee’s original position on this important file and against the way Gibraltar has been treated.

“I fear if we leave the European Union this is only an early sign of the way that other individual countries will be able to treat both Gibraltar and the UK. Far better that we keep our strong voice inside the EU.

“I am proud that as an MEP I am in a position to stand up for the rights of Gibraltarians and protect their interests and will continue to do so for as long as I am able.”

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Labour MEPs: Gibraltar “colony” reference is unacceptable and dangerous

The reference to Gibraltar as a “colony” in the EU's post-Brexit visa proposals puts the laws at risk of legal challenge, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament today backed...

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A UK Labour MEP has been removed as spokesperson for the upcoming European Parliament legislative report on the Brexit visa waiver file for standing up for the rights of UK and EU citizens to continue to enjoy visa-free travel in the event of Brexit.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE), said:

“I have been removed from the Brexit visa waiver file following a request from the highest decision making body in the European Parliament. This is because I stood up to clear manipulation of this important and added-value law for UK citizens and citizens across the EU27.

“With this new law, UK citizens and the EU27 would not require visas in the event of Brexit - with or without a deal.”

Claude Moraes MEP added:

“I was not prepared to see Spain hold this file hostage in the European Council with an addition that described Gibraltar legally as a “colony”. This was a misuse of our legislative duties.

“As LIBE chair, I was appointed as the Rapporteur of the file unanimously by coordinators as the file was considered institutional, not political.

“In committee, a number of amendments were tabled but no amendments on Gibraltar, and the report was adopted in LIBE by unanimity with 53 votes in favour and none against, and all Spanish members present voted for the EP text.

“During the various trilogues - meetings between the European Parliament, Council and Commission - I have submitted alternative wording which mentions Gibraltar which would be acceptable both to Spain and the UK, and some of this wording has even been used in very recent Brexit legislation.[1]

“Despite all the various compromise proposals from us we have been met with something of a brick wall from Council due, we believe, to Spain lobbying hard for the maintenance of the word “colony” in the footnote.

“At all times, I have not acted as a British Rapporteur but as an independent chair of the European Parliament’s LIBE committee, defending the position of the European Parliament and understanding the fact that there was no legal requirement for the footnote to be added by Council, but also understanding the tense political situation surrounding the general election in Spain.

“I have done everything possible to suggest alternative wording which still mentions Gibraltar in the footnote.

“I think it is sad that this attempt to remove me has been made preceded by huge pressure from Spanish politicians and press. I hope I have been able to stand up to this bullying, both for the integrity of the European Parliament’s procedures and the integrity of the position of Gibraltar, which had nothing to do with this visa waiver file.”

Monday, April 1, 2019

Notes to Editors:

  1. A good example is the following: EP compromise: “This regulation is without prejudice to the legal position of the Kingdom of Spain with regard to the sovereignty over the territory of Gibraltar.” Based on the wording in the regulation on the continuity of air transport services. A provisional agreement was reached on 19 February on measures to mitigate the disruption to air connectivity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Labour MEP removed from Brexit file for standing up to manipulation over visa waiver for UK and EU27 citizens

A UK Labour MEP has been removed as spokesperson for the upcoming European Parliament legislative report on the Brexit visa waiver file for standing up for the rights of UK...

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