Home Office app for EU Nationals cannot be used on an iPhone

Labour Party

As reported in the Guardian, Home Office officials from the UK met with MEPs yesterday to offer reassurance that functions of a new Home Office app designed for EU nationals seeking to stay in the UK, were sound.

However, in an embarrassing u turn, officials had to concede a major blunder after it was revealed that the user-friendly app will not work on iPhone- a brand that is used by over half the adult population.

Reports suggest that one MEP was told by Home Office staff, who attended the meeting, that anyone who couldn’t access the app (due to owning an iPhone) should simply borrow a friend’s phone and use that instead.

It beggars’ belief that an app designed to be used by more than Three million EU nationals won’t be accessible on a major platform – the most common piece of hardware used globally.

It didn’t stop there-Amber Rudd came under increasing fire for suggesting the app would be as easy to use as “setting up an online account at [the fashion retailer] LK Bennett” – claiming it had been “extensively tested”. However, officials at yesterdays meeting admitted that mass testing of the app had yet to begin.

And further problems could occur after officials stated that 1000 call centre case workers would be needed to help EU citizens, but the recruitment process has not even started.

There is also concern surrounding the cost of registering, which at £72 per person is unquestionably expensive for most families. In addition, the requirements expect every member of a family to apply individually for settled status.

Following the dreadful treatment in the UK of the Windrush generation there is renewed anxiety the Government may not get this right. But this is precisely why it has no room for errors. Any mistakes made today in the construction of the technology (or in any other areas) may well have consequences for many generations of EU citizens to come.


Leave Voters in doubt over Brexit

Labour Party

For some time those of us campaigning on the doorstep have consistently heard the same message from Leave voters.

They are unhappy with the way in which negotiations are progressing and feel that how they voted in 2016 doesn’t necessarily reflect how they feel now, in the light of two years of negotiations.

And at last research conducted by the think tank Global Research and Kings College, London, confirms our anecdotal findings. The research surveyed 1000 people and reveals that the majority of voters, even those who backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, feel that Brexit would come at too high a price.

The research also found that of the scenarios currently on the table in relation to exiting the EU all are worse than they had hoped for.

And over the weekend a further warning for the Government came from the Japanese Ambassador to the UK who warned that Japan was watching the negotiations closely. “Britain will not get a Brexit deal better that the current single market,” Koji Tsuruoka the country’s ambassador to the UK warned.

Car giants such as Nissan and Toyota both have large factories in the UK and use the UK as a gateway to selling cars across the continent. The ambassador warned that these firms will want to stay inside a single market if Brexit progresses. If that is in jeopardy they will look at their operations he warned in an interview with the Observer.


1500 employers still haven’t submitted gender pay gap information

Labour Party

Following the cut off date for the reporting of the gender pay gap a fortnight ago, one in 10 employers has yet to publish their figures, it has been revealed.

In total 1500 employers have yet got to submit data following the 4 April deadline.

The figures are so important because it allows the Government, business leaders and other stakeholders to enable change It provides the compelling evidence some employers might need to make changes. And as Harriet Harman has said, it also provides cast iron evidence of women’s long held view that they were being paid differently to men for carrying out the same or similar roles.

It’s not just a concern for the City, almost every aspect of employment, and areas of industry are affected by this in some way. This includes supermarkets, trade unions as well as legal firms, the banking industry- almost every area is covered!

Looking to companies such as Tesco the gap is completely unambiguous. Why do women on the checkout earn £8ph but men in the warehouse earn £11.50.

The problem with challenging issues associated with the gender pay gap is that the very body which is tasked with enforcing the law, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has faced significant government cuts.

How can the EHRC be expected to carry out sanctions and enforce the law when it is itself so stretched? What is the governments action plan to close the gender pay gap?


Parliamentary log jam on Brexit legislation

Labour Party

A parliamentary log jam is going to affect the ability for the government to pass important legislation relating to Brexit, according to the Guardian.

Its report revealed today that almost half the legislation required for Parliament to vote on the final Brexit deal has yet to be introduced.

Despite Parliament sitting for 123 days since the last election it has yet to pass a single piece of related legislation. There are only a further 80 days where Parliament will sit before MPs are expected to vote on the final deal scheduled for October this year.

The obvious problem is that Parliament will be asked to vote on a deal which it has little knowledge of because it won’t have approved any of the crucial legislation. It’s completely unacceptable that MPs will be expected to vote on a deal that they do not have the full details of because it won’t have been finalised! It just doesn’t seem feasible to expect Parliament to commit to such a vote which can’t possibly be meaningful since the government has failed to introduce any vital legislation.

Theresa May promised this parliament would be a “busy legislative session” and yet, as the Guardian report points out, just four pieces of legislation have been passed from the Queen’s speech which is half the amount at the same point following the 2010 election.

You can read the Guardian’s full report here.

Launch of the People’s Vote

Labour Party

The Peoples Vote launched last weekend and I am delighted to support it. Whichever way you voted in the referendum you deserve a say on the final Brexit deal.

This is something that will affect generations of people.

You can find out more about the People’s Vote UK campaign here.

UK consumers could miss out on EU digital reforms

Labour Party

European citizens will, from 1 April be able to access digital content they subscribe to anywhere in the European Union, The European Commission, Council and Parliament confirmed.

Those who use platforms such as Netflix will be able to access the content they have paid for when travelling abroad or staying in another EU country.

However, the benefit for the UK is in jeopardy following Theresa May’s, her Mansion House address in which she ruled out participation in the EU digital single market if Britain leaves the EU.

In a statement released by the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) yesterday I said: “Step-by-step the EU digital single market nears completion, bringing ever greater benefits to consumers, from the ban on mobile phone roaming charges to the freedom to access your online digital subscriptions like Netflix while abroad – benefits that British citizens could lose out on in just over a year under the disastrous Tory Brexit we are heading towards.

“In saying the UK will leave the single market, Theresa May has put British people’s future access to a swath of consumer benefits at risk and is causing untold damage to business. The government must ensure British travellers and businesses continue to enjoy benefits like online portability and free roaming if the UK leaves the EU.”

You can read the statement in full and comments from my EPLP colleagues here.

Failure to report gender pay gap could result in legal action, watchdog warns

Labour Party

Some 5000 companies which must provide data on their gender pay gaps could be pursued through the courts if they fail to provide the information, the head of the Human Rights and Equality Commission (HREC) has warned.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the HREC, said companies who fail to produce the information they are required to, would be named and shamed. She reiterated that failing to report the gap is breaking the law and reminded organisations which have yet to file that this is a statutory requirement: “We have the powers to enforce against companies who are in breach of these regulations. We take this enormously seriously. We have been very clear that we will be coming after 100% of companies that do not comply.”

With just 10 days left for companies to meet the deadline the large number left to report suggests a number may fail to meet the deadline. Companies which continuously breach reporting deadline are likely to face sanctions which could include unlimited fines, summary convictions or being forced to publish the data under a court order.

Hilsenrath also warned about the perils of using consultants, they may provide legal loopholes but using such mechanisms to avoid full reporting would be “ill judged” she said.

Besides we already know of some companies which have tried to avoid full reporting and following pressure to do so they ended up reporting their full figures. Ultimately it only served to make them look bad. As I may have said before it’s no good giving results which are not truly reflective of your organisation, it then becomes a futile exercise which leads to inaccurate information being published. If the organisation can’t see clearly the extent of its own problem, then it also can’t properly take action to remedy it.

Likewise, it means that Government, bodies like the HREC and other stakeholders receive an inaccurate portrait of the problem thus not allowing them to intervene to rectify it.

With 10 days to go I urge all companies to file their gender pay gap reports on time and accurately-so that we can work to reducing the gap and achieving parity across all areas of employment without delay.




London MEP condemns Labour’s failure to tackle its problem with anti-Semitism

Labour Party

Below is my statement concerning the Labour Party’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.


“Jeremy Corbyn has failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He must act now by adopting a zero-tolerance approach to any form of anti-Semitism,” said London MEP Mary Honeyball.

“Many great founders and pioneers of the Labour Party were persecuted brave Jews escaping the programs and the persecution of tyrants.

“These pioneers helped to shape and formulate the Labour Party we have inherited today which unequivocally stands for equality, and tolerance.

“I condemn totally and utterly anyone, no matter their status, who acquiesce even by his or her silence, in any form of anti-Semitism or racial discrimination.

“Such conduct is offensive in the extreme, and I will do all I can to combat it anywhere but particularly in our multicultural, tolerant free city of London.

“Bigotry and racial discrimination will not stand! Non Pasaran!”

Notes to editors:
Mary will attend today’s planned protest at 5.30pm Monday 26 March on Parliament Square organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Contact: Sarah Mackinlay: 07956443393 or sarah@maryhoneyball.net to speak with Mary Honeyball


Tourism industry hit by Brexit says industry chief

Labour Party

ABTA chief, Mark Tanzer, will say in a speech today that the failure of being straight about the consequences of Brexit will have a knock-on effect on tourism. Unless both sides can agree the terms over key areas such as trade, aviation, and the rights of workers to be posted overseas then there will be significant consequences for the tourist industry. And we know that some airlines have been vocal about the potential for a reduction in flights to and from the continent.

In his annual address to the industry Tanzer will say: “The access, security and rights that our membership of the EU has provided have benefited UK citizens and businesses here and overseas, bringing a vast range of destinations into scope.

“The 53 million trips from the UK to the EU every year are a vital trade and cultural artery; the challenge for the politicians and the diplomats is to maintain this flow into the future.”

It was also announced today that UK passports will change colour from the European burgundy to navy. “So, what!” I hear you say. However, the £490m contract could be awarded to the French firm Gemalto by the Home Office for the next 10 years, meaning the current production in the UK will end.

The chief executive of the British based firm which currently produces the passports spoke this morning on the Today Programme and said: “come to my factory and explain my dedicated workforce why they think this is a sensible decision to offshore the manufacture of a British icon.”




Northern Ireland remains an obvious sticking point after yesterday’s agreement

Labour Party

While Brexit Secretary, David Davis, grinned like a Cheshire cat following the announcement of yesterday’s agreement with Brussels on the transitional proceedings for Brexit, one fact remained: The uncertainty over Northern Ireland.

Although both sides seemed happy to announce the progress which had been agreed upon, the lack of agreement over the border issues between Northern Ireland and Ireland was the elephant in the room. This is a sticking point which all sides know only too well cannot simply be kicked into the long grass. Any future talks beyond what was agreed yesterday won’t progress unless this issue can be resolved.

Writing about yesterday’s developments, The Guardian’s editorial juxtaposed two significant European meetings which took place yesterday. The first concerned the joint position of EU foreign ministers in the wake of the Skripal poisoning and its editorial said it was: “sensible and constructive”. The second meeting was, concerned the Brexit negotiations and it said it was: “foolish and destructive”. The editorial continued: “Taken together the meetings illustrate the international wound the modern Britain is inflicting on itself and on Europe because of the Brexit vote.”

While some will be relieved that, seemingly, there is some progress, significant issues which cannot be underestimated remain: The question of the border in Northern Ireland is an obvious problem, already discussed above, which was no closer to being resolved. The other problem is the question of Britain being a reliable ally to its European neighbours, which was central to the Guardian’s argument.

As the Guardian pointed out Britain requires support from its allies more so now (after the Skripal poisoning) than it has for a long time. But as we embark on the road to Brexit, the concern turns to how Britain has weakened its own position in terms of its international strategic relationships.

The relationship between allies, by their very nature is dependent on responsibilities and trust which must be shared and the relationships equal, but as the Guardian states: “The principle of all for one and one for all is a reciprocal principle. That’s why Brexit is such a threat not just to Britain itself, but also to Europe’s essential and shared security interests.”