Today in Parliament: Europe and employment


It’s been six months coming but this morning the Prime Minister finally made his ‘Big Speech’ on Europe.

I am clear that the EU needs to change and work better for people in here in Britain. But the real tragedy of David Cameron’s speech today is that internal tensions in the Conservative Party won’t let him address the need for change in the EU in a sensible and pragmatic way.

I chair the all-party motor group in Parliament and regularly talk to motor manufacturers based in the UK. They are all too clear about the importance of the UK being in the EU. Whether it is attracting inward investment, accessing the European market – with half of all UK car exports going to EU countries – or influencing what actually happens in Europe on promoting jobs and growth.

Today we have also had the publication of the latest Labour Market Statistics. Unemployment here in Northfield has fallen on last month. This is welcome news. But we must remember that over 4,000 people in Northfield – including 1,240 young people – are still without a job and the rate of both unemployment and youth unemployment in Northfield is almost twice the UK average.

What’s more, long term unemployment remains stubbornly high – up 57% on last year and for young people it has more than doubled. They are being failed by a government without a serious plan for jobs.

Sadly I think the reality is that David Cameron’s flip flopping over Europe is more to do with managing his own party than what is going on in the real world outside. The result is that he risks creating years of economic uncertainty that will put investment and jobs at risk – just at the time when we need them most.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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