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Labour MEPs have called for urgent reforms of our electoral laws to defend elections and referendums against foreign interference and manipulation, and to win the fight against offline and online disinformation.

The Socialists and Democrats Group this week initiated a plenary debate on foreign interference and disinformation in national and European democratic processes - given continued evidence of attempts by state and non-state actors to undermine political systems in EU countries and to destabilise the EU by interfering in elections, the S&D Group has proposed the establishment of a special parliamentary committee to deal with the issue.

There will be a vote on the proposals for a new committee next month.

“The European elections earlier this year showed us that we are still vulnerable to manipulation by funding from foreign sources and weak regulation. We also saw interference in the Brexit referendum and the impact of the Cambridge Analytica scandal on its outcome.

“It is clear that we need urgent reform of our electoral laws and tougher action at the European level to defend our elections against foreign interference and manipulation. Member states cannot address these threats by working in isolation, nor can private sector self-regulation solve it all.

“To win this fight we are specifically calling for both offline and online electoral safeguards, which include rules on transparency, limits to spending, respect for silence periods, equal treatment of candidates, banning of profiling for electoral purposes, labelling of content shared by bots, and the removal of fake accounts.

“We welcome measures such as the Code of Conduct that have been introduced to respond to this interference, but it is clear that this is not enough and that there is an urgent need to follow new rules before our national and European elections can be free and fair.

“It is vital that we take action and do so now, starting with the formation of a special parliamentary committee to look into disinformation, fraud and foreign interference and propose solutions. We urge other political groups to join our fight to defend democracy and support this proposal in a resolution that will be voted on in October.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Labour MEPs: Urgent reform of electoral law needed to defend our democracy from disinformation, fraud and foreign interference

Labour MEPs have called for urgent reforms of our electoral laws to defend elections and referendums against foreign interference and manipulation, and to win the fight against offline and online...

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Boris Johnson is not representative of Britain, and his plans for a no-deal Brexit have no mandate, Labour's leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett MEP, said as parliament debated Brexit today. Mr Corbett called on the rest of Europe to give Britain more time, and enable the necessary extension to allow the UK to rethink Brexit now the reality of Brexit has been laid bare.

Richard Corbett MEP said:

"President, we have a chaotic political situation in Britain at the moment, but colleagues should not for one moment think that this prime minister, nor that lot over there, represent the entire British nation. They do not.

"And although Mr Johnson claims that he is seeking a deal, he has not put any actual proposal on the table, and the ideas he sometimes floats for a solution are ones that would not be acceptable, either here or to the British parliament.

"He is in fact heading towards a no deal Brexit, but the British parliament has legislated to prevent such an outcome, to require him to ask for an extension, rather than have a no deal Brexit, and a majority in the British parliament also now, and remember he is now a minority government, he has lost ministers, he has expelled members from his party, it's a minority government, and every single opposition party, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Scottish nationalist, Welsh nationalist, every single one wants a new referendum, and in such a referendum, faced with a Boris Johnson deal or a no deal, would campaign to remain in the European Union. It's important for colleagues to remember that.

"And no matter how frustrated you are with the British government, and its prime minister, bear with the British people. Public opinion is shifting on this. A new referendum is justified because Brexit bears no resemblance, no resemblance whatsoever to what that lot said during the referendum campaign. They said it would be easy, it's difficult; they said it would save lots of money that would all go to the NHS, it's costing a fortune; they said it would be good for the British economy and jobs, the opposite is proving true.

"That is why leave voters are entitled to say 'this is not what I was promised, this is not what I voted for', and it's right to give the British people another chance to look at this. Please bear with us, please give us that necessary extension, ask your prime ministers to give us the extension necessary for us to sort this out. Thank you very much."

Seb Dance MEP, Labour's Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, added:

"Let’s be clear about where the blame for this mess lies.

"You start with impossible promises, saying we can keep the existing trade relationship with Europe, but rip up the rulebook. You then say we can negotiate from a position of strength, despite leaving the world’s largest economic bloc. You then decry all opponents to this fantasy as traitors and then you move on to say that the British people voted for medicine and food shortages. They did not.

"The country I love is better than Johnson, it’s better than them. 

"Monsieur Barnier, you wish to move on, we all wish to move on. I know many of my colleagues are fed up with this debacle. I get it. I understand it.  But let’s not pretend that the Withdrawal Agreement would be sustainable, without public sign-off.

"The British people need to put the reality of Brexit up against remaining in the European Union. Give us the time, give us the options, that’s the only sustainable way forward."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Labour MEPs: Johnson is not Britain - please bear with us and give us time to rethink Brexit now reality is laid bare

Boris Johnson is not representative of Britain, and his plans for a no-deal Brexit have no mandate, Labour's leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett MEP, said as parliament debated...

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Labour MEPs vowed to scrutinise the new line-up of Commissioners proposed today, warning they will make full use of the European Parliament hearings and right to approve or reject the new Commission in a vote of confidence, to ensure that they will pursue a reform agenda for the EU.

Richard Corbett MEP, Labour's Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“There are some good names in the line-up of Commissioners, but serious questions about some individuals and portfolios.

“We will use the parliamentary committee hearings to forensically scrutinise the entire college, and we will make our voices heard to ensure a progressive, radical reform agenda for the EU over the next five years.

“Indeed it is because of new procedures drafted by myself and socialist colleagues after the last Commission was approved that the ability of the European Parliament has been greatly enhanced to increase the degree of scrutiny prospective commissioners are subject to.

“While the Westminster parliament is shut down by the now unaccountable UK government, in Brussels the European Parliament will continue to scrutinise the executive and fulfil our democratic duty.”

“Indeed, the hearings procedure for new Commissioners could be an example for future Westminster procedures: it would be revealing if prospective ministers had to undergo three hours of intense questioning before they could take office.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Labour MEPs: We will scrutinise new EU Commissioners to ensure reform agenda

Labour MEPs vowed to scrutinise the new line-up of Commissioners proposed today, warning they will make full use of the European Parliament hearings and right to approve or reject the...

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