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Come and join us to celebrate the Year of the Dog at our Gala Chinese New Year Banquet 2018 on Wednesday, 28th February 2018.

The event will be held at the Phoenix Palace Restaurant, 3-5 Glentworth Street, London NW1 5PG, and will begin with a champagne reception with canapés at 6.30 pm, followed by dinner at 7.15 pm.

As in previous years, we will be joined by Senior Shadow Cabinet Members, Ministers and Peers, together with leading members of the Chinese business and community leaders. This glamorous event draws together the British East Asian Actors, creative communities and supporters from the Labour movement.

Click HERE to book your place, or book it HERE via Eventbrite

We look forward to seeing you there.

Gala Chinese New Year Banquet 2018

  Come and join us to celebrate the Year of the Dog at our Gala Chinese New Year Banquet 2018 on Wednesday, 28th February 2018. The event will be held...

It’s become commonplace to suggest that voters in the predominantly pro-Leave areas will suffer the brunt of the decision to leave the EU. However analysis from Centre for Cities and the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) shows that these places will actually be less directly affected by Brexit than cities in the South East, at least when it comes to the impact of our changing trade relationships with the EU and the rest of the world.

So is the conventional wisdom on the geographical impact of Brexit wrong? The answer is not entirely – but it’s complicated.

The report examines the headwinds ahead for local economies based on how much trade they do with Europe and how exposed their industries are to changes to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. It shows that cities in the Greater South East are most vulnerable to the shocks the UK faces in the ten years after we leave the EU, because their large share of private-sector knowledge-intensive services jobs make them more vulnerable to non-tariff barriers (much more so than in places with big manufacturing bases, where WTO tariffs are already very low for many goods).

But we can’t ignore the ability of places to adapt to change. The basic issue is that the underlying drivers of the north/south divide will not change post Brexit. While London might face some of the largest headwinds after Brexit, its size and diversity means that the capital is far better placed to make it through rough seas that could cause havoc and seasickness for smaller, less flexible city economies.

To understand the potential geographical implications of Brexit, it is useful to draw a parallel with how different UK cities bounced back from the financial crisis. Initially, London was most exposed due to its status as a global leader in financial and related services, starting with Lehman Brothers in September 2008. But from 2010 to 2015, the number of private sector jobs in London grew by 17 per cent. More broadly, cities in the Greater South East, which are home to large numbers of high-skilled workers and complementary economies, saw the biggest rates of jobs growth since the financial crisis. The impact of Brexit may be different, but it is reasonable to think that the underlying reasons for London and the GSE’s strong economic growth since 2010 will be repeated if we say farewell to the Customs Union and single market membership. 

In the global market place for knowledge and innovation, the adaptable skills of those who lost jobs in finance are other industries’ gain. Their concentration in London and the diversity of other world-leading sectors in the capital for them to apply their skills to creates ideal conditions for the unemployed to ‘reallocate’ themselves productively and potentially support the creation of the vital ‘new work’ sectors (such as the creative, digital and professional industries). After taking the biggest initial shock, economic growth and opportunities is resumed after a short pause for breath and adjustment.

As such, in the aftermath of Brexit, cities in the Greater South East will remain best placed to attract new sectors and firms and to bounce back. Cities elsewhere have shown themselves less able to adapt to change and are likely to continue to perform relatively poorer unless they make themselves more attractive places for business investment. Our analysis should therefore not be interpreted as showing that a hard Brexit offers an opportunity to rebalance the geography of economic growth in the UK economy away from London. In truth, the poorest parts of the country will find it much harder to be ‘only’ a little bit poorer in 10 years’ time, than the richer cities who are facing a bigger economic shock – a reality which should be a central concern for those politicians charged with charting the UK’s path out of the EU, and with drawing up plans for the post-Brexit economy.

Simon Jeffrey is a Researcher and External Affairs Officer at Centre for Cities. This article is reprinted from www.centreforcities.org

Brexit could be a re-run of the 2008 recession for UK cities

It’s become commonplace to suggest that voters in the predominantly pro-Leave areas will suffer the brunt of the decision to leave the EU. However analysis from Centre for Cities and...

It’s hardly ever a good idea to start talking about chlorinated chickens, as Liam Fox should have known, when answering questions about the trade talks he started with the US. Chlorinated chickens have become a moot point, but that’s only the start of the problems with a potential US-UK trade deal.

Treating chickens with chlorine epitomises the difference in approaches to food safety and animal welfare in the US and the UK at present. The UK, along with the rest of the EU, takes a “farm to fork” approach trying to eliminate bacteria such as salmonella or campylobacter at every stage in the chain. The US by contrast tolerates dirty meat until the very end, when it bleaches everything in the chlorine wash. Done properly, the UK approach is better for the birds, who are more likely to have healthy lives, as well as for people, because there are fewer chances for bacteria to be spread to humans.

There is a choice here, represented by chlorine chicken, beef treated with growth hormone, and pork laced with ractopamine – all of which have risks for human health and animal welfare. As a House of Lords report published in July puts it “the Government may find it hard to reconcile its free trade ambitions with its commendable desire for preserving high farm animal welfare standards. 

All these practices are also part of a highly industrialised farming system, with animals kept in intensive mega-farms, a model of farming that is dependent on fossil fuel, contributes to climate change and degrades our soil. Do we want to go further down this path by committing ourselves in this sort of trade deal, or do we want to keep our ability to choose a more sustainable, healthy food system?

The risks of these talks go far beyond this. Fox’s meeting seeks to lay the groundwork for a future trade deal with the US, and we have a good idea what that might look like – TTIP on steroids. Fox has been meeting with a huge number of corporate lobbyists in the past few months, and some of the most powerful groups have been pushing for exactly that – a deal that starts where the controversial EU-USA deal broke off, and goes further in its approach to deregulation.

This would be disastrous for public services, including the NHS. The massive private healthcare industry in the US would love to get its hands on more of our National Health Service, and US senators have already said they hope this could be one of the outcomes of a future deal.

During the TTIP negotiations, legal advice showed the NHS was not protected, and May has declined to rule out putting it on the table.

A trade deal would lock-in privatisation of public services. Such deals can include a ratchet clause ensuring that while the government could always keep privatising more things, it couldn’t bring any of them back into public ownership without punitive financial penalties.

We are also likely to see rules, already proposed in other deals, that make discriminating between different sorts of fuels impossible. In other words, supporting renewable technologies when fossil fuels could do the job could become the basis for a trade dispute.

Much of Fox’s focus is on financial services and there is a huge danger that a trade agreement with the US could be used to enable financial deregulation – making proposals to break up big banks or impose a financial transactions tax extremely difficult. US Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren has highlighted the risks: “We did this kind of [de]regulation before and it resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We cannot afford to go down this road again.”

And of course, a trade deal with the US would include the notorious “corporate courts” (Investor State Dispute Resolution or ISDS). This allows foreign corporations to sue governments for passing regulations that could affect corporate profits, through an international arbitration process that completely bypasses our own national justice system. In practice, this means corporations will be able to sue Britain for doing almost anything they don’t like – environmental protection, regulating finance, renationalising public services, anti-smoking policies – you name it.

It’s not just that a trade deal with the US carries huge risks in itself, it is also the way it is being done. Firstly, Fox is desperate for a deal, but for the US this is just a side affair while it is mainly focused on renegotiating NAFTA (its trade deal with its neighbours, Canada and Mexico). The Trump administration is also on a war footing on trade, ready to start disputes not just about steel but even olives. The UK will have to take whatever is offered.

More fundamentally this is a deal being done in the dark, with no democratic accountability. Fox is not allowed to conclude a trade deal until the UK leaves the EU, but he wants to get as much prepared as possible, so that he can present a fait accompli for a quick conclusion. At that stage, it will be too late for there to be any scrutiny or input from Parliament or the public, so it is vital that there is accountability now. Yet, trade ministers have told MPs they won’t be providing any details of trade meetings like this one with other countries, and they have refused freedom of information requests to even just publish a schedule of meetings.

Parliament at present has almost no say in trade deals like this one with the US. They don’t get to set the objective and mandate for trade deals, they have no right to be informed of progress in negotiations or guide their progress – and they don’t get a vote before the deal is signed. They are asked to ratify a final deal, but the current procedure is a formality that does not allow MPs to actually outright reject a trade deal.

This needs to change. Otherwise it is not just the chickens who are at risk – it is our democracy.

 

Jean Blaylock is a policy officer for Global Justice Now. This article is reprinted from the Independent

Fox in the chicken coop

It’s hardly ever a good idea to start talking about chlorinated chickens, as Liam Fox should have known, when answering questions about the trade talks he started with the US....

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