BPA's Mark Simmonds reviews Labour conference

    BPA’s Policy Manager Mark Simmonds Labour Conference Roundup

“This week I attended the Labour Party’s Annual Conference in Brighton this year to get a feel for the Party’s evolving position on matters that affect ports including Brexit, and transport and environmental policy.

I also had the opportunity to meet the Shadow Ports Minister, Karl Turner, and agreed to meet again later in the year to discuss our priorities.

It was widely reported that delegates voted not to have a debate on Brexit in the main hall but there were still some interesting messages from the leadership in their speeches and on the fringes, with Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit Minister, saying for the first time that it is possible that the UK could have a “better arrangement” outside of the EU than the one it currently enjoys.

Labour’s ruling executive published the Party’s Brexit position paper which called for “a tariff and impediment- free trading relationship with the European Union”.

It said that “the precise institutional form of the new trading and customs relationship needs to be determined by negotiation. Labour will not support any future arrangement that sees the introduction of a hard border, or which restricts freedom of movement between Ireland and the UK.”

In terms of transitional arrangements, the Party’s position is that the Government should seek a time-limited transitional deal on the terms we currently have – remaining in the customs union and single market and abiding by the rules of both.

Corbyn’s wide-ranging speech on the final day did not have much in terms of ports related policy but he did say that “big business” will pay more in tax to fund “better infrastructure from energy to digital” under a Labour Government.

There were no addresses from the Shadow Transport or Business Secretaries, but the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell did promise that a Labour Government would nationalise the Rail, water, and energy industries as well as Royal Mail.

He also committed to building “Crossrail for the North”, connecting the East and West coasts, extending HS2 to Scotland, funding more infrastructure across the Midlands and South West whilst also “broadening ownership” across the entire economy.”

Mark Simmons Policy Manager BPA - mark.simmonds@britishports.org.uk 

Mark will also be attending and reviewing the Conservative and Scottish National Party conferences in the coming weeks.