MY VOTE IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WAS “NOT A VOTE AGAINST BREXIT”
The following news release was sent to media today Sunday 8 October 2017
Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England responding to press coverage in the Sunday media, has made it clear that the vote in the European Parliament was not associated to infighting in Westminster, and is not in any way an act of disloyalty to the Prime Minister Theresa May; and has expressed his continued support to the Prime Minister.
He went onto say that his vote was not a vote against Brexit, nor was he seeking to delay or hinder trade negotiations.
Richard Ashworth MEP said:
“From the outset I must insist this was NOT a vote against Brexit. The British people voted to leave the European Union, and their wish must be respected. Secondly, it was NOT a vote to derail or obstruct trade negotiations.”
“Article 50 determines there be two stages to the negotiations. Next week the 27 European Prime ministers (the Council) will decide if enough progress has been made in phase one in order for them to authorise negotiations to move onto phase two. The European parliament resolution was to instruct the council whether or not sufficient progress had been made between the two parties.”
“Time is limited and we urgently need to move on to the trade negotiations. However, it is my view that we have not yet made sufficient progress on phase one; and it is my judgement that moving to phase two before adequately completing phase one would ultimately lengthen the negotiation, not shorten it, and would diminish our chances of a successful outcome to our trade negotiations.”
“A sound agreement needs to be made on sound foundations, we have made progress but we are not there yet.”
The following letter has been published to address the concerns of constituents in the South East of England following recent press coverage.
On 29th March 2017 the Prime minister served Article 50. Prior to that the House of Commons had voted in favour of article 50 (without any amendment).
This letter explains where the negotiations are, and the significance of last week’s vote in the European Parliament.
At the outset I must insist this was NOT a vote against Brexit. The British people voted to leave the European Union, and their wish must be respected. Secondly, it was NOT a vote to derail or obstruct trade negotiations. I, in common with all other parties, want to see a successful and fair Brexit. However, two important points to bear in mind….. first, now that we are into the negotiation stage, “the devil is in the detail”; and second, any negotiation is much more likely to have a successful outcome if it builds on mutual benefits, rather than being adversarial.
Article 50 determines there be two stages to the negotiations. Next week the 27 European Prime ministers (the Council) will decide if enough progress has been made in phase one in order for them to authorise negotiations to move onto phase two. The European parliament resolution was to instruct the council whether or not sufficient progress had been made between the two parties.
Article 50 runs until March 29th 2019, which means time is limited and we urgently need to move on to the trade negotiations. However, it is my view that we have not yet made sufficient progress on phase one; and it is my judgement that moving to phase two before adequately completing phase one would ultimately lengthen the negotiation, not shorten it, and would severely diminish our chances of a successful outcome from phase two.
There are three issues to resolve in phase one:
The first is citizens rights (both for EU citizens living in the UK and for UK citizens living in the EU). I have received a large volume of mail from among those four and a half million people, all anxious for certainty and security. While I acknowledge progress has been made, to date, no agreement has been reached. I think it my duty, particularly to those constituents, to ensure that the rights and freedoms of these people are protected and to that end we need a formula that ensures equivalence and reciprocity.
Secondly, Northern Ireland.
The United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland)has announced that it will leave the European Single Market and the Customs Union. It also determined that there will be no ‘hard’ border in Ireland and that the Good Friday Agreement will be respected.
The people of the United Kingdom have expressed a clear wish to restrict and control the free movement of people from the European Union. At the moment, given that our land border with an adjoining EU state will have no border controls, there is no proposal how this might work. This issue cannot be deferred 1) because the people of the UK expect their government to take control of the borders 2) because both sides of the Irish border need certainty and 3) because of the impact it will have on any subsequent trading agreement with the EU.
Thirdly, Financial settlement.
This year, as in previous years, the 28 EU member states will devote over 40% of the budget to developing the single market. This is not charity, it is a seed corn investment which has grown into the world’s largest single market. Likewise this year, as in previous years, the UK is fully participating in many joint European ventures. For example, Erasmus (student exchange programmes), Galileo (satellite navigation), Euratom (nuclear exchange), Horizon 20:20 (private and university research programmes) and the European space agency. In her Florence speech the prime minister intimated that the UK would honour all its financial commitments. That was welcomed by the EU 27. But before trade talks can progress the 27 Prime ministers will want to know that, if they continue to invest in the single market, how or what will the United Kingdom contribute. Second, if we intend to continue to participate in joint European ventures, are we prepared to pay?
In my opinion, regardless which side of the Brexit debate you are on, getting a good deal for Britain is critically important. It is the detail of the agreement that will determine the success or failure of Brexit and it would be a mistake to ignore or gloss over the issues. A sound agreement needs to be build on sound foundations. We have made progress, but were not there yet.
The European Investment Fund (EIF) and the British Business Bank, have signed an InnovFin agreement for Small and Medium sized enterprises, which will enable the British Business Bank to lend £30 million.
Loans of up to £2 million will support the development of new products and processes, stimulate research and innovation and help businesses target new export markets.
Commenting on this agreement, Richard Ashworth Spokesman for the Conservative Party in the European Parliament said: “This £30m will help small, innovative firms across the UK to invest and achieve their full potential.”
The MEP for the South East went on to say: “This further proves the value of remaining inside the EU – outside the EU we would not have access to such valuable instruments.”
Conservatives in the European Parliament have backed proposals which will help tackle corporate tax avoidance by multi-national firms.
These legislative plans, put forward by the British EU Commissioner Lord Hill, would force multi-national companies to publicly report their tax dealings on a country-by-country basis. It also ensures a level playing field within the Single Market by removing the unfair tax advantages which are available to large corporations, but not on offer to smaller European businesses.
Conservative MEPs also opposed a politically motivated amendment backed by Labour which sought to add public tax reporting to separate piece of legislation considered by the European Parliament.
Following the vote Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said: “Large multi-national corporations operating in Europe should pay the same tax and face the same rules which small businesses in the South East have to comply with. Ensuring a level playing field within the EU Single Market in terms of taxation is beneficial for British businesses.”
“By remaining within the EU the UK can be part of broader cooperation with our neighbours to clampdown on aggressive corporate tax avoidance by multi-national companies.”
“I opposed the Labour-backed amendment as placing this politically motivated text within a piece of technical legislation is inappropriate and cheap opportunism. Conservatives in the European Parliament are committed to creating good legislation that will tackle tax avoidance, not empty political gestures.”
Click to read a leaflet with facts about the EU
The following has been sent to local media on Friday 13 May 2016
Police and security cooperation across the EU will be strengthened after MEPs voted in favour of an expanded role for Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.
Countries across the EU will be able to respond more quickly to developing threats through new platforms for enhanced operational cooperation and information exchange between national police forces. Europol will be better equipped to deal with transnational terrorist threats thanks to enhanced capabilities for the new ‘Internet Referral Unit'; this has proven particularly effective in working with EU states to help take down terrorist propaganda and recruitment material.
These new rules also increase the oversight powers for national parliaments over Europol, whilst also enhancing data protection supervision.
Following the vote Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said: “Terrorism and organised crime doesn’t stop at borders so why should the way we tackle it? Our continued membership of the EU ensures that British police and intelligence agencies are best equipped to protect us. Cooperation and intelligence sharing with our neighbours through Europol, an EU agency, safeguards Britain and is firmly in our national interest.”
Richard Ashworth, Conservative Agriculture spokesman and MEP for South East England, has called upon the Commission for mandatory country of origin labelling to be extended to some dairy and meat products.
Currently there are EU mandatory country of origin labelling requirements in place for fresh beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat as well as a variety of other foodstuffs. These rules mean that the products covered must clearly and consistently note the country of where the food was produced on its packaging. However currently there are no compulsory country of origin labelling requirements for other meats or any milk and dairy products.
The European Parliament has backed a resolution calling upon the European Commission to bring forward plans for information on where raw materials are sourced to be made mandatory on milk and lightly processed dairy and meat products such as cheese, cream, bacon and sausages.
This would rebuild consumer trust following recent food scandals, enable shoppers to make informed choices when buying food and assist local producers. Mr Ashworth said there was a demand from both consumers and producers for more information on packaging. This means that the benefits would outweigh any limited extra costs that might be incurred.
Mr Ashworth said during the debate: “Consumers are giving a very clear message. They want to know where their food comes from and country of origin labelling doesn’t only benefit consumers, it can be an opportunity for food producers as well.”
“In the case of processed meat and dairy products, for example yoghurts and sausages, there already is a very high level of voluntary declaration and this is a cost that consumers are prepared to pay. So in the interest of fairness and consistency, I urge the Commission to bring forward proposals for mandatory country of origin labelling for all lightly processed products.”
British consumers will see lower charges for using their mobile phones when travelling within the EU. The cost of calling, texting or using mobile internet in another Member State (roaming) will get cheaper, this is ahead of roaming charges being entirely scrapped in June 2017.
These reductions are coming into force after Conservative MEPs backed the proposals in the European Parliament in October 2015. When travelling in the EU, mobile device users will only pay a small amount on top of their domestic prices: up to €0.05 per minute of call made, €0.02 per SMS sent, and €0.05 per MB of data.
Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said after the reduction in charges: “These reductions in roaming charges are concrete evidence of how our membership of the EU benefits people in Britain. Millions of Britons travel to Europe for both business and leisure every year. Now thanks to EU law the costs associated with this travel will be reduced and British consumers will save millions of pounds a year.”
“Both Conservative MEPs and government ministers have fought hard to secure these cuts in roaming charges for British travellers. Not only is this a tangible benefit of our EU membership, but an example of the level influence we have at the top table in Europe to secure Britain’s interests.”
The following statement relates to the parliamentary expenses of Richard Ashworth MEP:
Richard is an active member of three committees in the parliament, the Committee on Budgets, Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as being a substitute member of the Committee on Budgetary Control.
He receives exactly the same salary and pension contributions as all 750 MEPs, and works all week to deliver a better deal for Britain in the EU. The majority of the funds provided for MEPs to carry out their duties are flat-rate allowances given to all MEPs, and not claimable expenses.
Along with his Conservative colleagues, Mr Ashworth has voluntarily published breakdowns of how those allowances are used in his work to deliver the best deal for the eight million people in his large constituency which covers the South East of England.
Mr Ashworth submits his spending, confirmed annually by an independent Chartered Accountant, as being fully in line with the rules of the European Parliament. The publication of the breakdowns of allowances and expenses can be found here: http://conservativeeurope.com/MEP-Expenses
Myth-busting United Kingdom Trade with the World
(Source: UK Office of National Statistics – Pink Book 2014)
1. ‘Our most important markets are China and the US – not the EU’
Not true. The EU is the world’s biggest single market, and it’s far and away our biggest trading partner, amounting to 44.6% our exports and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services. The EU is particularly important to smaller firms with over 60% of their exports going to the EU.
2. ‘The EU needs us as a trading partner’
This implies that the EU is more dependent on us than we are on them. UK exports to other EU countries amount to 14% of our GDP; conversely, trade with the UK for other EU countries equals around 3% of EU GDP. The rest of the EU is far more important as a trade partner for us than we are for them – which suggests the opposite balance of power in negotiations post-‘Brexit’.
3. ‘If we quit the EU, we could go global’
Not quite. The Leave campaign claims that we could get better trade deals if we negotiated them separately as Britain. Firstly, we will have to negotiate new trade deals with countries across the world, to replace the ones we currently have via the EU (more than 50 countries). Secondly, chances are small that we’d be able to secure a better deal than we already have, negotiating with China, Japan, the US and others just as Britain alone. We are an important market for those countries, but nowhere near as significant as the EU as a whole – the world’s largest single market.
Even President Obama has said that the ‘UK is going to be at the back of queue’ for a free trade deal with the United States – only