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Labour MEP supports EU funding for local business

gw picA local Euro MP is encouraging small business owners and budding entrepreneurs in Derbyshire to look out for EU funding to kick start their companies.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, is supporting the expected bid for £1.5 million EU funding by Derby City Council.

The funding is available through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which helps new companies get started and small businesses to grow their workforce. The ERDF has been used to support the hugely successful Derby Enterprise Growth Fund, and applicants can apply online.

Glenis Willmott, Labour MEP for the East Midlands, said:

“This is brilliant news for the region, and another example of EU investment helping to create jobs. Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy and it is essential that we support them to grow and invest in the local community.

“I would encourage all those small business owners in Derbyshire to look out for EU funding after the previous scheme helped to create almost 500 jobs in Derby. I hope we can repeat that success by continuing to support ambitious businesses in our region.”

Small and medium sized businesses are 99.3% of all private sector business in the UK and employ over 15 million people. This EU funding will also help to launch the next generation of entrepreneurs by supporting the launch of 120 start-ups, with one-to-one coaching for the aspiring business owners of Derbyshire.

Glenis Willmott added:

“One in seven of the workforce is self-employed, and many of those are the small business owners who power our economy. With the government planning to cut the tax credits that many self-employed business owners rely on, small businesses will need more support to continue growing in a tough economic climate, and I hope that local entrepreneurs will take advantage of the EU funding available.”


Labour MEP supports freedom of speech campaigner

Raif BadawiDear Editor,

I’m sure that many readers have been following the awful plight of Raif Badawi, the blogger in Saudi Arabia, who has been subjected to lashing and  imprisonment for promoting religious freedom.

I have been campaigning to raise awareness of Raif’s case and have joined my colleagues in calling for justice for Raif. I am therefore delighted to announce that my political group in the European Parliament have nominated Raif for the prestigious Sakharov Prize.

The Sakharov Prize is awarded to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe. Freedom of expression is a basic human right that everyone should have.

Raif’s case is one that I have been following and urging a swift resolution to for some time now. For advocating greater religious freedom on his online blog, Raif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. 50 lashes were carried out in public in January, but medical professionals have advised against him receiving further lashings due to the state of his health. This dreadful form of torture and public humiliation has no place in a civilised world.

Public outcry and denouncements from politicians has meant Raif has not been subjected to further torture since January. But he is now in limbo, unable to communicate with his family or the outside world, and with the weight of his unjustifiable sentence still hanging over him.

Raif’s plight has touched people in the UK and I have been contacted by many individuals across the East Midlands. Some have contacted me directly to ask for Raif to be nominated for the Sakharov Prize and I was honoured to represent my constituents in asking for this.

The founding principles of the European Union include liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Nominating Raif for the Sakharov Prize reflects our dedication to these values and supporting them across the globe.


Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, in a speech to Labour Party Annual Conference, said:

IMG_8196Conference, it’s hard to believe it’s less than five months since the general election.

I can’t remember an experience in all my years in politics that left me more devastated, than when the results rolled in on that dreadful night.

I was devastated for all our activists and Labour party staff who worked so hard, knocking on doors, through wind, rain and shine.

I was devastated for my good friend Ed Miliband, who I was proud to have worked with as leader of our party.

And I was devastated for those people up and down the country who now face five years of an uncaring and vindictive Tory government.

If they needed a Labour victory at the beginning of May they certainly need a strong Labour party today.

We all have a responsibility, a responsibility to hold this government to account, and to fight for the young people of Britain who face an uncertain employment future.

A responsibility to represent those families forced to rely on hand-outs from food-banks, whilst welfare for the poorest, continues to be cut and stigmatised.

And a responsibility to protect working rights under threat from a government eager to strip back our hard won gains of the past decades.

Conference, there’s another reason why we must all pull together under our new leader Jeremy Corbyn. This country is now facing the biggest political decision of a generation.

And let me be clear. The biggest threat currently facing our country is the possibility of a vote to leave the EU. The decisions we make now will determine whether or not our children face a future of solidarity, fairness and prosperity or one of deep uncertainty and cold isolation.

I’ve no doubt that this party must play a part in convincing the British people that we must remain in the European Union. And that risking a future on the fringes … would be a backward step from which Britain may never recover.

I’ve heard some within our movement say the left should now campaign for Britain to quit the EU! That we should be fighting the EU elite, really?

Conference there is an elite that threatens the wellbeing of British working people.

But it lies much closer to home. The elite is alive and well, and living in Downing Street.

Just, imagine the scene a day after the referendum if Britain votes to leave.

Try and look past, the image of Nigel Farage’s smug face across every news bulletin up and down the country. Pint in one hand, waving the vees with the other!

Yes, he will have been crowned the undisputed winner of the referendum. But the biggest winners will be all those Tories, who for years have been determined to turn this country into a neo-liberal, tax-free, wonderland. Just look at how this government has launched an all-out assault on trade unions over the past few weeks.

Think what it would be like if we didn’t have the protections that the EU provides.

Imagine what they could get away with. Imagine what a trade deal between the UK and the US would look like if it were negotiated by David Cameron alone?

There would be none of the protections on public services and the environment that Labour MEPs are currently fighting hard to secure.

Yes, Europe needs to change but that change can only come from within.

No one can tell me that Britain will be a more progressive society if we leave.

Would being outside the EU give us more rights at work? More freedom? More equality?

Of course it wouldn’t!

We are an internationalist party. We should be at the centre of European politics building a progressive Union. One that continues to set global standards, promotes human rights and values solidarity.

Solidarity with the poorest including those Refugees forced to flee their homes to escape bloodshed and violence.

And there is something else I want the Prime Minister to hear. I am warning you Mr Cameron, do not use, this re-negotiation to indulge the political fantasies of your Eurosceptic backbenchers. You are negotiating a deal for the entire country.

For the nurse coming off the back of another gruelling 12 hour shift, for the unpaid intern working all hours and barely covering travel expenses, for the new mum struggling to juggle the demands, of caring for a family but knowing she can no longer afford time off work.

These are the people you are negotiating for. Not Bill Cash, not the CBI.

So, stop playing games. Stop the posturing.

The message from this hall is clear, keep your hands off workers’ rights!

Conference, our voice in this referendum must be clear,

disciplined and positive.

Let’s not allow the likes of UKIP to dominate the debate by spreading fear.

They only seek to blame and divide. It’s the only way they know.

Business will make its case as to why we should remain and it is a case worth hearing.

Around three and a half million jobs.

British families £3,000 better off a year.

£350 billion a year invested in Britain by European companies.

Arguments that are crucial for working people, but we also need emotion in our argument if we’re to win hearts as well as minds.

We belong in Europe not purely out of economic convenience but because we hold and share the same beliefs.

A belief in equality. It’s the EU that guarantees our working rights, and the EU that continues to bring equality legislation to this country.

A belief in a fairer and sustainable economy. It’s the EU that delivered a cap on bankers’ bonuses and is leading the fight against climate change.

And a belief in solidarity. The huge financial investment the EU made, and continues to make, in this country.

Many of our great towns and cities were on their knees after years of Tory neglect and EU funding proved to be a vital lifeline.

This referendum will be about two contrasting visions of our future.

Those who want out, want a Britain without a Britain without employment rights, without equality, without public services.

This battle isn’t about treaties, opt-outs or institutions.

It’s a battle for Britain’s future as an outward looking, progressive country.

Conference, it’s up to us the Labour Party.

A party of fairness, equality and solidarity. Let’s make sure for the working people of Britain this is a battle we win.


Red Tractor Week

Red Tractor Week

This week is Red Tractor Week and Labour MEPs have been celebrating the food labelling scheme, which lets consumers know that they are buying British food they can trust.

The popular red tractor label doesn’t just tell consumers that they are buying British produce, it also certifies that the food meets high standards in terms of traceability, animal welfare and environmental standards.

I know that my constituents want more information on where the food they buy comes from, that’s why I’ve been campaigning for some time for country of origin labelling to be mandatory for meat in processed foods and dairy products.  We’ve already been successful in getting this labelling for fresh meat but I think consumers deserve clear, honest labelling on all the food they buy.
Following recent protests about the price paid to dairy farmers for their milk, I know a lot of people would like to know that
they are buying British milk so that they can support British farmers.  Country of origin labelling would also give people more information about how far their food has travelled and would allow animal welfare conscious consumers to choose food produced
in countries with high standards of animal welfare.

More information about where food comes from would also help to restore consumer trust in the industry, which was badly damaged by the horsemeat scandal.  We only have to look at the success of the Red Tractor to see that clear, honest labelling is good for both the food industry and for consumers.

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