union for life

Wantage

Wantage

Major employers

Science & Technology Facilities Council, Diamond Light Source, Fusion Energy

Questions

  1. How will you ensure that key, cross-border industries – including energy, telecoms, broadcasting, nuclear, science and aviation – can prosper outside the single market?
  2. Will you unilaterally guarantee the residence and citizenship rights of EU nationals currently living or working in the UK, irrespective of negotiations with the EU?
  3. Will you guarantee continued access to European science funding streams and collaborative projects and freedom of movement for relevant STEM workers?
  4. Will you commit to increasing the UK’s total expenditure on research and development to at least 3% of GDP, as called for by the CBI and OECD?

Candidates’ responses

Edward Vaizey (Conservative)

Response awaited

Rachel Eden (Labour)

How will you ensure that key, cross-border industries – including energy, telecoms, broadcasting, nuclear, science and aviation – can prosper outside the single market?

The most important thing to say is Labour’s approach to Brexit will be different to that of the Conservatives’. Theresa May plans on giving up on the single market and customs union which is a huge risk to the British economy and our vital STEM industries. Labour will bring fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union, which are essential for maintaining industries, jobs and businesses in Britain and locally. My priority will always be to put jobs and the economy first. In practice if Labour win the election and sit at the negotiating table we would seek continued tariff-free trade between the UK and the EU, no new non-tariff burdens for business, regulatory alignment with the EU, and a deal that ensures continued competitiveness for goods and services.

I recognise that leaving the EU without a deal would be the worst possible deal for Britain and would do significant damage to the vital jobs in Harwell, Culham, Rutherford and elsewhere which rely on cross border cooperation with our European friends.

Rather than simply focusing on hypothetical trade deals with other countries, Labour will focus above all else on securing strong trading arrangements with the EU. The EU accounts for 44 per cent of our exports and is by far and away our most important trading partner. I believe close collaboration is our future relationship with the EU and that is the only way forward to ensure our vital energy, science and other cross-border industries do not suffer.

However of course we also must seek good trade deal with the rest of the world, and we should not underestimate both the challenge and the importance of this.

Prospect members and residents in this area have much to gain from a Labour and Cooperative government, and I believe that I would also be a strong champion for the Didcot and Wantage area in these uncertain times and I would prioritise safeguarding the high quality jobs and innovative industries based locally.

Do you support the guaranteed residence and citizenship rights of EU nationals currently living or working in the UK, irrespective of negotiations with the EU?

Yes. Over three million EU nationals live and work in the UK, including many in our area. They are not simply contributing to society but are part of our society. These people are our colleagues, our neighbours, our friends and in some case family members. They should not be bargaining chips. This is both because it is wrong and also because the contribution they make is vital.

On day one of a Labour government we will immediately guarantee that all EU nationals currently living and working in the UK will see no change in their legal status as a result of Brexit, and we will seek reciprocal measures for the 1.2million UK citizens in the EU.

Will you guarantee continued access to European science funding streams and collaborative projects and freedom of movement for relevant STEM workers?

The Labour & Co-operative Parties believe in the principles of internationalism, solidarity and social and economic justice. These principles are the principles I believe in and a Labour government will aim for a close and cooperative new relationships with the EU, not as members, but as partners. This must begin with strong trading arrangements that retain the benefits of the single market and customs union, but must extend to continued cooperation in areas such as science, counter-terrorism, environmental protections, policing, medicine, culture and technology.

We will ensure the UK maintains our leading research role by staying part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes, and by welcoming research staff from the EU.

Working with businesses, trade unions, devolved governments and others, we will identify specific labour and skill shortages. Labour values the economic and social contributions of immigrants. Both public and private sector employers depend on immigrants and we will not denigrate those workers.

Will you commit to increasing the UK’s total expenditure on research and development to at least 3% of GDP, as called for by the CBI and OECD?

Yes, the Labour party manifesto commits to meet the OECD target for 3% of GDP spent on research and development by 2030.

I believe we should aim to meet that target as soon as possible as I understand the importance of investment in R&D and the multiplier effect that benefits the economy and society. Labour is committed to doubling the current levels of government spending on energy research so that the United Kingdom can become a world-leader in new technologies. Labour will also set up a national investment bank and regional development banks to help unlock £500 billion to fund major capital projects and finance growth and jobs.

The Labour Party will also make use of record low interest rates to create a National Transformation Fund that will invest £250 billion over ten years in upgrading our economy to harness the economic potential of new technologies and science.

Christopher Carrigan (Lib Dem)

Response awaited.