Our security, well-being and global influence depend both on our relationship with Europe and our allies around the world and on positive engagement with the institutions of the United Nations and other international organisations. Working for peace and tackling climate change, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, tax evasion, international criminality and mass migration can only be addressed in a strong multilateral framework. The election of Donald Trump and the rise of extreme nationalism here and abroad call for clear leadership to contain conflict and build the international cooperation and legality that will be essential if humanity is to survive.
The Party believes that Britain should work to consolidate and rebuild its relations with its friends and neighbours and take a strong lead in pressing for new initiatives to reinvigorate and modernise international law, the UN Security Council and the UN agencies. We should build and maintain the strongest possible relationship with our neighbours in the European Union and maintain our commitment to development assistance and humanitarian relief. Britain needs an immigration policy which reflects both our national interest and our support for the rights of legitimate asylum seekers. In an increasingly dangerous world, we should maintain our defence capacity at its present level, while supporting vigorous efforts to reduce international tension and bring about sustainable multilateral nuclear disarmament.
The Radical Party Proposes:
- A Strong Future with Europe
- The Global Dimension
- Development Assistance
- A Realistic Approach to Immigration
- Robust Defence with Trusted Partners
A Strong Future with Europe
The commitment by the Conservative and Labour Parties to leave the European Union on the basis of the deeply flawed consultative referendum of June 2016 poses a profound threat to Britain’s future prosperity and to our legal engagement with important elements of the social market model of society. Everything possible should be done to persuade the electorate and the Government that weakening our relationship with the EU is against our interests.
Britain, which at that time was often described as the “sick man of Europe”, joined the European Economic Community in 1973 because tariff-free access to the large and fast-growing European market was essential if our economy was to catch up with those of our neighbours. As globalisation advances, the case for membership is now even stronger than it was 40 years ago. The Party believes that moves should begin forthwith to rebuild our relations with Europe, in the first instance by ensuring full reciprocal freedom of movement for residents of the UK and the remainng 27 EU member nations, a right which could be reinstated outside of the jurisdiction of the European Court. Further steps should then be taken with a view to the UK becoming once again a full member as soon as this is practicably possible. Fortunately, whatever follies the Government may commit to, the UK will retain its right under the Treaty of Rome to re-join the European Union.
With a population of over 550 million, the EU is now the destination of some 44% of our exports – worth £240 billion in 2016 out of a total of £550 billion. Over the last forty years, successive governments have promoted the UK as an ideal location for inward investment by companies from around the World on the basis of access to the Single Market. Such investment has created good quality jobs, enhanced skills, management performance and growth and has helped to balance our longstanding trade deficit.
A weaker relationship with our neighbours will mean that investment targeting Europe will go elsewhere. And membership has not only been of vital importance in terms of the economy. It has also given the UK a much greater ability to protect our interests abroad in a post-colonial world dominated by China, Russia and the United States, a strength which is now under grave threat from short-sighted nationalism.
EU employment legislation guarantees the rights of British employees to paid holidays and parental leave and protection against discrimination. It also protects British companies from unfair competition from businesses in other member states. Abandoning the jurisdiction of the European Court marks another step in the campaign by right-wing politicians to manoeuvre the UK away from the social market towards a nationalistic, neo-conservative model, encouraging further attacks on the welfare state and leaving British workers exposed and isolated.
The Single Market
If the UK does cease to be a member of the EU it should remain within, or rejoin, the Single Market, accepting the provisions for the freedom of movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court. For most of the 40 years between 1976 and the Brexit referendum, opinion polls have shown majority public support for continued membership of the EU. The referendum was called for party political reasons and was distorted by a lack of any serious analysis of the consequences of leaving. Indeed, the public were repeatedly assured that the UK could easily negotiate continued membership of the Single Market, an objective a large majority of the public support, but which the Government and the Opposition have rejected.
Neither was the electorate warned of the immediate cost to the taxpayer of leaving, which the Government has since agreed will be in the region of £40 billion, or £600 per head of the population, nor of the consequences in terms of our relationship with the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar. On whatever basis, in the short term, the priority must be to build a stable and positive relationship with the EU, which ensures continuing barrier-free access to the largest market in the World on the best terms available and a continuing supportive relationship with our closest neighbours.
The Global Dimension
Our security and influence in the World also depend on positive engagement with a variety of international organisations and treaties, in particular, the institutions of the United Nations.
The election of President Trump and the nationalism reflected in the Brexit campaign have called in question the need for formal, multilateral legality at the global level. The Radical Party considers that the spread of weapons of mass destruction, mass migration and population growth demand strong support for joint working at the global level. As part of this, Britain should campaign with like-minded democracies for initiatives to reinvigorate and modernise the framework for international legality and collaboration, for example, by reforming the Security Council of the UN.
Development Assistance and Humanitarian Aid
The Party believes that the UK should uphold its commitment to contributing a minimum of 0.7% of GNP to development assistance, maintaining its capacity to respond to humanitarian crises in different parts of the world in collaboration with other countries. And it should continue to support the funding of international agencies committed to tackling poverty and promoting social progress and self-determination for individuals, communities and nations. As well as promoting sustainable economic development and humanitarian aid, it is vital that public support is maintained for the UK’s continuing engagement in areas such as de-militarisation, global warming, population growth, marine degradation and the drugs trade.
A Realistic Approach to Immigration
The Party believes that Britain should be an outward-looking country that welcomes people who can contribute to its economy, its public services and science as well as those who have fled great danger abroad. In recent years, it has achieved relatively low levels of unemployment with immigration from the EU going hand in hand with growth and job creation. The Party believes that freedom of movement for workers from the EU should be maintained, while at the same time efforts are stepped up to strengthen international and bilateral initiatives to combat people smuggling.
We recognise both the benefits that immigrants bring to Britain and that the overall level of immigration needs to be controlled, within the framework of national and international law. The existing system of immigration control must be made to work fairly and effectively, the rights of asylum seekers respected, and the safety and well-being of refugees guaranteed in collaboration with our international partners.
Public concern over migration in recent years has largely resulted from factors which are outside the control of the British Government, such as the civil war in Syria and the growth of trafficking networks in North Africa and the Middle East. But political grandstanding, unrealistic promises and inappropriate and contradictory policy objectives have impeded efforts to tackle illegal immigration and have exacerbated the problems facing host communities and asylum seekers and other immigrants. They have also encouraged thousands of vulnerable people to run the risk of dying in the desert or drowning in the Mediterranean by entrusting themselves and their families to criminal gangs.
Cuts in funding for essential services have encouraged illegal immigration and have left vulnerable people at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and landlords. The Party believes that funding for the immigration service, the police and local authority inspectors should be restored as part of an effort to ensure that existing laws and regulations relating to immigration are properly enforced.
The Party considers that migrants from EU countries should be able to come to the UK and remain here provided they find work within three months (as already applies in Germany). With this proviso, the Party is wholly opposed to the introduction of further constraints on immigration from the EU, which would inevitably lead to skills shortages and to restrictions on British citizens wishing to work abroad. Controls on immigration must also not be allowed to deter bona fide overseas students, who generate billions of pounds every year for the economy in fees and living expenses, nor restrict the recruitment of highly skilled workers from outside of the EU.
Robust Defence with Trusted Partners
The Party believes that the UK should continue to honour its pledge to maintain defence spending at 2% of GNP and should press other NATO members to do likewise. Britain needs a defence system which, taking into account our international alliances, reflects and is sufficient to address, the dangers we will continue to face for the foreseeable future. These include potential threats to the UK and our allies from possible future nuclear-armed dictatorships and from non-state terrorist groups.
However, this is also an age of growing and diffuse ‘non-kinetic’ threats, including espionage, covert political operations, computer hacking and corruption, which need to be deterred and defeated. We believe that, regrettably, in the current circumstances, nuclear weapons remain essential to our capacity to deter potential aggression and nuclear blackmail. But a balanced approach to deterrence requires that this must not be at the expense of Britain’s conventional capabilities.
The Party believes that Britain should maintain its nuclear defence force at the present level, including the submarine-based ballistic missile system, while doing everything possible with the international community to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Experience with Iran indicates that negotiations backed up by international sanctions can be effective in containing the threat of proliferation.
In this connection, it is important to remember that at least 20 countries around the World, which have the technical capacity to develop nuclear weapons of their own, have refrained from doing so because of international law and because they are protected by collective security agreements. Meanwhile, the UK should join with others in a redoubled effort to persuade Russia and the US (which together account for some 90% of all nuclear weapons) to reduce their arsenals, as a staging post to further future multilateral reductions based on shared values, a strengthened system of international governance and an effective and credible framework for conflict resolution.
At the same time, we need conventional forces which are adequate for our own defence, to maintain our position in the world and to support not only our national interests, but also our values. From disaster relief to humanitarian intervention, the British military also underpins our capacity to be an influence for security, democracy and human rights on the world stage. We cannot and should not pretend to be a global military power in our own right, but we do need to protect our ability to operate beyond our immediate surroundings, especially as part of multilateral forces.
This also demands adequate intelligence and security structures. In a rapidly changing environment, where open sources of information proliferate and non-state threats abound, Britain needs a comprehensive review of its intelligence structures and priorities. This should not be a cost-cutting exercise as the services contribute not only to our own security and that of our allies but also provide us with a distinctive role in the world. Rather, it should be to ensure that our services are best suited to the challenges and opportunities facing us today and in the future.
SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS
Our Future with Europe
- build a stable and positive relationship with the European Union, which ensures continuing barrier-free trade on the best terms available;
- ensure full reciprocal freedom of movement for residents of the UK and the EU;
- rejoin the Single Market, accepting the rulings of the European Court;
- thereafter, work to become once again a full member of the European Union as soon as is practicably possible, as we are entitled to do under the Treaty of Rome.
The Global Dimension
- work towards the further development of international law and multilateral international institutions as the only effective means of supporting progress towards peace, human rights and security;
- counter the current slide towards political fragmentation at the global level and campaign to reform the UN Security Council and strengthen international collaboration and law.
- uphold our commitment to contribute 0.7% of GNP to development assistance;
- maintain our capacity to respond to humanitarian crises around the world;
- support international agencies committed to social progress, ending poverty, the empowerment of women, and the rights of children and people who are marginalised.
- maintain freedom of movement for workers from the EU;
- step up efforts to combat people smuggling;
- remove impediments on students coming from abroad and the ceiling on highly skilled workers coming to take up employment at earnings of less than £30,000 a year;
- restore funding for the immigration service, the police and local authority inspectors.
Robust Defence and Trusted Partners
- maintain defence spending at 2% of GNP and press other members of NATO to meet this target;
- maintain our nuclear defence force, including the submarine-based ballistic missile system;
- work with the international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction;
- redouble efforts to persuade Russia and the US to reduce their nuclear arsenals, as a staging post to multilateral reductions based on a credible framework for conflict resolution, leading to the elimination of all nuclear weapons as soon as this becomes practicably possible.