Thursday, May 30

Soft Brexit as outlined Labour’s vision for Britain



Sir Keir Starmer has piled pressure on the government to negotiate a soft Brexit as he outlined Labour’s vision for Britain to stay in a customs union and a single market variant.

The shadow Brexit secretary led a co-ordinated Labour frontbench effort to soften the party’s stance on Brexit and put more distance between its position and that of the government. He also left open the question of a second referendum.

Sir Keir said that Labour was prepared to continue paying into the EU budget after Brexit, and endorsed easy movement of workers to keep the benefits of the single market and customs union. Theresa May has pledged to take the UK out of both.

Sketching an outline of Brexit that looked like a Norway-style agreement for the 21st century, Sir Keir made clear that Labour wanted to stay aligned to the bloc. We don’t want to deregulate. We don’t want to cut workplace, environmental rights.

We are very comfortable staying on a level playing field [with the EU], he said. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, he said: What are the benefits of the single market and the customs union?

There are no tariffs and there are alignment of regulations and standards and that means that for goods and services we can trade successfully in the future. That’s what we want . . . We would start with viable options, staying in a customs union and a single market variant which means full participation in the single market.

Pressed on whether Labour would sign up to open borders, like Norway, which is a member of the single market but not the EU, he said: That would have to be negotiated. The end of freedom of movement doesn’t mean no movement. Asked if that amounted to easy movement, he replied: Yes, of course. He also left open the door to a second referendum, stating only that Labour had not called for one so far.

David Davis, the Brexit secretary, said Sir Keir’s proposals betrayed Leave voters. He said: “A Labour Brexit would mean billions of pounds going to the EU in perpetuity, the UK being forced to obey rules over which we have no say and zero control over borders.