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Labour MEPs today welcomed Nick Clegg's pledge never to endorse a EU-US trade deal if it is not "crystal clear that we are allowed to do what we want with our public services", and have also called on the government to follow through in publishing the text of its requested NHS exemption.

The deputy prime minister's announcement comes as David Cameron is expected to renew his pledge to put 'rocket boosters' under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) at an event organised by the CBI today in Brussels.

Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour's spokesperson on TTIP in the European Parliament, said:

"Labour MEPs have been relaying the public's legitimate concerns about the NHS for months, and have strived to convince both the European Commission and the Coalition Government of the absolute necessity to remove all public services from TTIP.

"We've planted seeds in Brussels and London and are now seeing fragile sprouts.  But we are still a long way from harvest.

"Nick Clegg promises a blanket exemption for the NHS, he must now come forward with an actual text and not just talk about it if he wants us to believe him. It's up to him to fire rocket boosters under this proposal".

“If we don’t get a concrete change in the government stance then this is just more empty promises and hot air from Nick Clegg. We’ve learnt over the past four years that you just can’t trust Nick Clegg. I worry that he’s just made this pledge to distance himself from the Tories in the run-up to the General Election.

"It's up to him to fire rocket boosters under this proposal.

“We must also remember that the NHS is being privatised under this Government with the full support of Nick Clegg. Over the past few years half a billion pounds of NHS contracts have been given to private firms. When Clegg says we should have the sovereign right to run the NHS as we wish perhaps what he means is to run it into the ground and sell it off.

“It’s clear the Tories would be happy to have the NHS included in TTIP, that while Clegg is moving in the right direction he cannot be trusted, it is only Labour that has definitively ruled out the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP and the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act."

Labour MEPs: Clegg must fire "rocket boosters" to save the NHS in any TTIP deal

Labour MEPs today welcomed Nick Clegg's pledge never to endorse a EU-US trade deal if it is not "crystal clear that we are allowed to do what we want with...

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Labour MEPs voted today against an increase in next year's EU budget and against what has been dubbed 'fresh money' at the end of this year's budget.

Clare Moody MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on the EU budget, said:

"Although we have seen a real terms cut in this year's EU budget too much is still wasted on the inefficient Common Agricultural Policy and the monthly Strasbourg parliamentary sessions.

"We have voted against new money in the 2014 budget - as we did last year - and we voted against the EU's 2015 budget, which is a real terms rise on the 2014 budget.

"We need to put the principles of added value and efficiency at the heart of budgetary decision making in Europe.

"We need to see greater investment in sustainable growth that creates jobs and secures the UK's future as a major global player.

"We have worked hard with our European colleagues to secure increases in the research and development budget, a budget the UK would have seen cut without us. Britain is the biggest beneficiary of R&D investment in Europe - to fail this sector of our economy is to fail the UK as a whole.

"We also welcome the fact the European Union will do more to meet its international responsibilities for humanitarian aid and development, particularly today when we've had such an important vote on Palestine."

Labour MEPs lead the fight for value for money in the EU budget

Labour MEPs voted today against an increase in next year's EU budget and against what has been dubbed 'fresh money' at the end of this year's budget.

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A European Parliament vote in favour of official recognition of Palestinian statehood today has been led by Labour's MEPs.

The vote represents a push for all European countries to give coordinated recognition - supporting a bid at the UN also expected this week - for a global deadline to be set for a new Palestinian state to be not just recognised but established.

MEPs voted by a big majority, 498-88, calling for an EU "common position" on recognition, proposed by Labour's Richard Howitt MEP, as foreign affairs spokesperson of the Socialists and Democrats Group.

He chaired intensive negotiations and was able to secure the agreement of the five main party groupings in the parliament. The Conservative Party, however, left it to a free vote of their MEPs.

Mr Howitt and his fellow Labour member of parliament's foreign affairs committee, Afzal Khan MEP, describe today's vote as a stepping stone to seeking European support in the UN and follows similar successful votes for Palestinian recognition in British, French, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish parliaments and by the government of Sweden.

Richard Howitt MEP, who is also chair of the European Parliament sub-committee on the Middle East, said:

"It is right that the European Parliament reflects the initiative for Palestinian recognition which is sweeping parliaments right across Europe, from the House of Commons to the Assemblée Nationale, and which today sees us agree that this should be a common position for all EU countries.

"We know recognition is being discussed by EU foreign ministers and, if the expected debate takes place in the UN, we are issuing a clear signal Britain and other European countries should seek to give our support.

"Today's vote is a political rather than a legal decision but the strength of the majority will send a strong message of Europe-wide support for the principle of Palestinian statehood.

"European recognition of Palestinian statehood is neither an alternative to a two-state solution nor for peace talks to achieve it, but could be a vital injection of impetus towards both."

Labour MEPs call on UK govt to join EU countries to coordinate support for UN bid for Palestine statehood

A European Parliament vote in favour of official recognition of Palestinian statehood today has been led by Labour's MEPs.

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