Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England
Jude Kirton-Darling is a Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England. Jude is a member of the International Trade Committee, the Industry, Energy and Research Committee and the Petitions Committee in the European Parliament. Jude is currently leading Labour efforts in the European Parliament to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, commonly known as TTIP, as fair and as transparent as possible, and has particularly opposed Investor-State Dispute settlements, or ISDS, which would function as secret international tribunals which would allow corporations to sue governments in private courts. She is also fighting to ensure that the deal excludes public services such as the NHS and that workers’ rights and environmental standards are improved rather than reduced.
Jude grew up in Middlesbrough, and is passionate about the North East, its social and industrial heritage and future. Her ancestors include rail engineers in Stephenson's works to mining engineers in Durham. This tradition of involvement in local industry continues today, as her father and brother work in energy sector design, and engineering in the region.
Jude led Europe’s steelworkers unions in negotiations with employers and the European institutions, taking up the job at the European Metalworkers’ Federation in 2008 just months before Lehmann Brothers crashed. She provided support to One North East to help ensure a future for steelworkers in Teesside at a time when unions were campaigning hard to Save Our Steel. This showed Judith's dedication to preserving a key part of the North East's industrial future.
With nearly 15 years of experience working within the Labour and trade union movement, she was elected Confederal Secretary at the European Trade Union Congress in 2011. She is able to draw on wide-ranging experience and knowledge, having represented workers in the service and communications sectors (notably fighting for rights for call centre workers and agency workers), manufacturing and basic industries.
She previously directed European trade union work in the areas of energy, industrial policy, environment and health and safety, all key areas for the European Union and the North-East in the years ahead.
As a socialist I fundamentally believe in immigration. I think people moving to new places, trying new things, meeting new people, and bringing different experiences, outlooks and attitudes, is a good thing. It is a good thing for those moving and it is a good thing for the communities they move to.
Last month I arrived in sunny Brighton with my little one in toe, ready for the annual Labour Party Conference. It was heartening to be greeted by a multitude of EU flags waving in the wind at a rally whilst I was gearing up for my first speaking slot at a fringe event on why citizens' rights need to be guaranteed before Brexit negotiations move forward.
Six months into the divorce negotiations with the EU, we are still left wondering what Brexit actually means. People might have given up on getting any pertinent answers from this government, but the very least we should expect is that all the right questions are being asked.
In the words of suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett, whose statue will soon be the first statue of a woman created by a female artist for Parliament Square, "courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied" and it took a lot of it to get to where we are today. Brexit mustn't undo any of this groundwork.
A new round of negotiations begins in Brussels this week and hopefully this time the UK government is prepared to guarantee our rights. Over a year on from the referendum, British and EU citizens alike are still living in limbo until a final decision is made, so a bit of reassurance will go a long way in making us feel like we aren't just bargaining chips.
If you've been campaigning against TTIP and CETA get ready for JEFTA - the upcoming EU trade deal with Japan. But this time, there may be a twist as JEFTA could come without a secret tribunal for multinationals.
This band of merry neo-liberal Brexiteers seem to think that trade deals are drawn up on the back of a fag packet and secured over a glass of whisky, a cigar and a hand shake. The reality is very different.
Britain will have a say on this, but it may be the very last time we can influence an EU trade deal. Whether we retain any powers in this respect after 2019 is entirely up to the Brexit deal and the choices made by the government.
As a block of 500 million people, Europe is arguably the most desirable trading partner in the world, even more so since the collapse of the Trans Pacific Partnership following the election of Donald Trump.
This election must be a wakeup call for the Tory government. They can't continue down the same path. With their majority gone, they must learn to compromise and get a deal that works for all of the UK, otherwise they will not get it through parliament. The British people are holding May's feet to the fire to get a managed deal for Brexit. She must now deliver.
As a result, the public are scrutinising our trade deals. They have shown their resounding opposition to ISDS/ICS at every opportunity, in yet the trade establishment is only willing to tinker at the edges of its old recipe. More imagination is needed if the EU and its trade policy is to regain public credibility.
In the Petitions Committee we see that time and time again, people come with nowhere else to turn. As a member of the committee we cannot always 'solve' problems or right wrongs immediately but we can sometimes offer hope to people where previously there might have been none and help them take a step towards the justice they seek. In Madrid, I'll be standing with Ruth and the other petitioners in their struggle.
Brexit will be one of the most difficult processes in modern British history. It will also have one of the biggest impacts on ordinary people. The country needs a government that is not willing to be duplicitous in its intentions.
The bottom line for me is that we should not support a trade deal if it's a bad deal. CETA is risky for public services, weakens the rule of law and is not good enough for workers and the environment. That's why I would have voted against it if I could and urge those who will be able to do so to reject CETA.
Trade - and in particular access to the UK market - gives us leverage, which can be used to secure real improvements in third countries. Merely "encouraging [these countries] and supporting their plans for reform" won't do it.
Zero-hours contracts are a 21st century trend that I would love to see the back of. As of the last official estimate, over 800,000 people in the United Kingdom are employed on zero hours contracts. With a UK work force of 85,000, McDonald's is one of the most prolific users of them. I'm calling for McDonald's to lead the way and abandon its use of zero-hours contracts and to implement better working conditions for its staff in the UK and across Europe.
The day after the referendum result Nicola Sturgeon stated her distinctly Scottish vision for negotiations to leave the EU. A few days later, Cornwall set out their version of what Brexit should look like. With everything up in the air, now is clearly the time for the North East to set out its stall for what we want going forward into the negotiations to leave the EU.
As Phil Wilson, the MP for Sedgefield said in the debate on Leaving the EU: North-East Exports in Westminster on Tuesday, "although my constituents may have voted to leave the EU, I do not believe that they voted to be poorer, to put their jobs at risk or to see their region fall further behind." I feel much the same. My constituents voted for a leave campaign that told them that neither their jobs nor our wider economy would be at risk: it is time for the government to guarantee that for them.
31/10/2016 14:04 GMT
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