European Union Directives

Meeting: 
MQT on 2016-03-16
Session date: 
March 16, 2016
Reference: 
2016/1071
Question By: 
Len Duvall
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Millions of Londoners rely on the social protections afforded to them by European Union Directives. Do you agree that any moves to water down these social protections could harm both London's economic prospects and the quality of life for those who live here?

Answer

Answer for European Union Directives

Answer for European Union Directives

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Len, thank you very much for this question.  You are asking about whether the protections that Londoners have from EU Directives would in any way disappear if Britain left the European Union (EU).  Of course that is not the case because they have all been transposed into domestic law.  It is idle to suppose that any future Government would want to water down valuable protections for our people.  These are things that I think most people support.  They may disagree about some of the detail and I personally disagree about some of the detail, but in general you can rely on our Parliament and our Government to have measures that are humane and, above all, practicable to protect the rights of working people.

 

Perhaps even more valuable than some of these Directives, I might mention some of the things that we have done to help the quality of life for people across this city.

 

Len Duvall AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  Can you then tell us which bits you do not like, then, and that you think could be changed if we withdrew from the EU?  Do you want me to help you with this?  You have obviously done some thinking about this ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, I--.  Look, I ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ and so I can pose the questions.  We have had this game before and you have declined to answer.  You have been thinking about this a lot because you have chosen a position.  Which are the bits that you think should be changed?  What is the detail?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Sure.  This would be up to a future Government and a future Parliament to decide.

 

Len Duvall AM:  I am asking for your personal position, Mr Mayor, your personal position ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You are asking rather ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ or do you not have a thought?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  About, what, the whole corpus of EU law?

 

Len Duvall AM:  OK.  Let us know, then, OK?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The animal hygiene Directive that says that you have to bury your sheep is totally deranged, it seems to me.

 

Len Duvall AM:  Let us help you, Mr Mayor.  Let us have a look at some of the ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The Directive that says that kids under the age of eight cannot blow up a balloon ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  Mr Mayor, you have made it up before.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The interoperability of ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  Let us not make it up again.  Let us ask you these questions, then.  Which part of the health and safety Directive ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is true.

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ would you undo if we came out of the EU?  Which parts of the right to information in terms of workers or other issues would you undo?  Would you pull back on parental leave?  Would you pull back on employment protection of part-time workers?  Mr Mayor, you have not said much on this issue in the past eight years in terms of the Equal Pay Act for women.  The EU guarantees a basic issue ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is incorporated in existing British law.  In fact ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  You think that is the case, then?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Why do you suppose our Parliament or our courts are so puny as to be able to give the British people these rights anyway?

 

Len Duvall AM:  Our institutions are not puny, Mr Mayor.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Why do you think that this country is so inhumane ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  I will tell you why, Mr Mayor.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ as to wish to take away benefits from workers?

 

Len Duvall AM:  Shall I tell you what worries me?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I simply do not understand what you are arguing.

 

Len Duvall AM:  Shall I tell you what worries me about you ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Go on.

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ and your colleagues who want to pull out and make it quite clear that you want to do down these regulations?  Part of the European Social Charter, which guarantees the minimum rights, states:

 

“Persons who have been unable ... to enter ... the labour market and have no means of subsistence must be able to receive sufficient resources and social assistance ...”

 

I tell you why, Mr Mayor.  On 2 March 2016 you walked into the voting lobbies and voted to cut support to disabled people who have been disabled either since birth or through an accident in their life and cannot work.  You voted to cut some of their benefits, along with some of your colleagues on the other side.  That is why you cannot be trusted, Mr Mayor ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Come on.

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ because the minimum guarantees by Europe are the backstop for people like you and your colleagues who have made it clear.  You have made it clear, Mr Mayor.  At an LBC interview ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Can I come in at this point?

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ you made it very clear, but you do not want to share with us which ones you do not support personally.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, because ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  You made it clear when Mr Cameron [The Right Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister] ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  To be totally honest with you, Len ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  ‑‑ watered down some of the issues in his negotiating stance.  You said in 2015:

 

“I looked at the headlines this morning about the possibility of Britain dropping its insistence on changes to employment law and I thought that was very disappointing.  I think we need to move forward on that ... we’ve got too much regulation, too much stuff coming from Brussels, too many laws that are promulgated by Brussels that make it hard for business.  So I think we need to weigh in on all that stuff, all that social chapter ...”

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We do.  I have to say that that is absolutely true.  If you want me ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  That is fine.  You can have that position, Mr Mayor, but you should tell us which bits you would do down and which regulations you would change.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  What I would do is I would take, if I may ‑‑

 

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Can I just say, nothing has been recorded of what has been said for the last five minutes.  It is impossible.  It is just impossible if you are going to speak across each other to each other.  Can we just have the question, Mr Duvall, to the Mayor and an answer?

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes.  What I would like to see is British courts and the British Parliament being able to decide these matters.  Britain has traditionally led the way in social protections of all kinds.  We have a fine record in that matter compared to virtually any other nation on earth ‑‑

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  Primarily under Labour Governments.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and we should be proud of that from Disraeli [Benjamin Disraeli, 19th century British Prime Minister] onwards.  I would also like us to take back control over our borders, for instance, because there is a question about this later on but it is unquestionably true that one of the major reasons for low pay in this city has been the huge influx of unskilled workers from across the accession countries of the EU who have ‑‑

 

Len Duvall AM:  You were praising them.  Some years ago, you were praising them.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ helped to bring down wages.  You cannot have it both ways.

 

Len Duvall AM:  Please, Mr Mayor.  You cannot have it both ways.

 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  What this country would like to see is control of all of those issues ‑and would like to see laws devised in the interests of British workers and in the interests of British industry and manufacturing.