Progressives call on May to drop austerity and safeguard rights

Labour, SNP, Greens outline priorities as new PM enters Downing Street


Tomorrow will be Theresa May’s first full day in Downing Street, and the opposition parties have already been issuing statements as to what her priorities should be.

Top of the May in-tray, of course, will be the EU, and the leader of Labour MEPs, Glenis Willmott, insists that the prime minister must immediately provide clarity and assurance on the economy, the status of EU migrants and worker’s rights.

“We need assurances on workers’ rights, on consumer rights, and on our national security. We need her to reassure EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living in Europe that their rights will be protected. And crucially, she needs to give assurances on our continued access to the Single Market, upon which millions of jobs and billions of pounds of investment depend.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, says that ‘Theresa May’s overriding priority must be to heal this divided country. ‘

“Britain is in turmoil and we need politicians to work towards narrowing the persistent and pernicious inequality that plagues our society while urgently tackling climate change and other environmental crises. May will be judged on how she responds to these divisions and dangers, and we’ll be holding her to account on her record.”

Writing for Left Foot Forward yesterday, Bennett argued that on climate change there is still room for May ‘to show the leadership that the country – and the planet – needs.’

The SNP has called on May to ‘ditch her own nasty party past’ as she steps into the top job.

Anne McLaughlin, the SNP Civil Liberties spokesperson, commented:

“Theresa May’s appalling right-wing record will set the alarm bells ringing in Scotland and suggests she will lead a Tory government that lacks compassion, fails to respect human rights, and will worsen poverty and inequality.”

McLaughlin highlighted May’s role in the Tory government’s austerity programme, as well as its attitude to immigration and inequality, before continuing:

“If Theresa May truly wants to govern in the interests of all people and all nations in the UK she should heed her own advice and change course from her nasty party past.”

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, has published an article on Politico, calling on May to adopt an explicitly feminist agenda:

“Let’s see May respond by building an economy that services society, by building a budget that reduces inequalities rather than increasing them. Let’s see a female prime minister invest in childcare as a motor of economic growth . . . Let’s see an immigration system that has equality and justice at its heart. Let’s see a prime minister who understands that when you lift the barriers of inequality for women, you lift them for everyone else.”

Despite these calls, however, few progressives expect a meaningful shift in the Conservative approach under May, particularly given her own record, and given that she is still tied to the promises in Cameron’s 2015 manifesto.

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