Ed Miliband, accompanied by shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, meeting Barack Obama at the White House earlier today. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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What Miliband and Obama talked about

The pair met for 25 minutes at the White House and discussed issues including the economy, climate change and the Scottish referendum. 

To the undoubted relief of Labour, Ed Miliband got his meeting with Barack Obama (and a bit more than a "brush-by"). The pair talked at the White House for 25 minutes after Obama joined Miliband's discussion with National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Douglas Alexander, Labour strategist Stewart Wood and Miliband's chief of staff Tim Livesey were also present. 

For all the inevitable cynicism around the meeting, a photo with the US president ten months before a general election will do the Labour leader no harm, and likely some good. Indeed, as he told British foreign correspondents before the meeting: "I am going because I want to be prime minister of Britain in less than ten months and because it is incredibly important - and it is what I think the British people would want - to have a prime minister who works closely with the United States."

Here's the Labour readout of the meeting: 

Ed Miliband today met President Barack Obama for talks in the White House.

The Leader of the Opposition and the President discussed a range of issues, including the situation in Ukraine, Gaza, and the future of the European Union.

The pair also discussed the economy, climate change & the approaching referendum in Scotland.

The meeting lasted around 25 minutes.

Mr. Miliband also met the President's National Security Advisor Susan Rice and held talks with senior politicians in Washington.

And here's the White House's:

President Obama joined National Security Advisor Rice's meeting today with Mr. Ed Miliband, leader of the United Kingdom's opposition Labour Party. Mr Miliband was meeting with Ambassador Rice to discuss issues of shared concern, including the situations in Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, and Iraq. The President and Mr. Miliband affirmed the strong ties that bind the United States and the United Kingdom. The President and Mr. Miliband met previously during the President's visit to London in May 2011.

Earlier in the day, Miliband gave a seminar at the Centre for American Progress (Obama's favourite think-tank) attended by senior US figures, including Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and Jason Furman, one of the US president's senior economic advisers. In his opening remarks on the MH17 shooting, Miliband said: 

“This is the moment for a strong, determined and outward-looking EU to step up to its responsibilities.

“Europe and America must stand together as they have at crucial moments in the past.

“As President Obama made clear in his state visit to the UK in 2011, Europe is a cornerstone of US global engagement. Together we are the most potent catalyst for global action that there is in the world today.

“In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of flight MH17 we must again be that catalyst for global solidarity and decisive action.

“And to achieve those ends this we need Britain at the heart of a reformed and resolute EU.

“Nothing could illustrate more starkly than the need for European and American partnership than the cloud cast globally from the events in the skies in Ukraine.

“Britain in Europe working in partnership with America is not only in all our interests, it is the best way to promote stability and prosperity across the globe.”

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.