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Keir Starmer sets out Labour’s plan for Brexit

Keir Starmer has set out Labour’s plan for Brexit – a new Free Trade Agreement that maintains close ties with the EU but allows some management of immigration. He also throws his support for a transitional deal. 


In a speech today, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer laid out Labour’s plan for Brexit. He responded to critics that said Labour had given the government a ‘blank cheque’ over Brexit arguing that Labour was the only party who could bring unity to the country.

Only Labour will fight for the 100%

He accused the prime minister of “alienating the 48%” who voted ‘Remain’ whilst saying that the Lib Dems have “absolutely nothing” to say to the 52% who voted ‘Leave’.

Starmer said that the referendum produced a “clear result” and that it must be accepted and respected. He added that Labour shouldn’t set its sights on “frustrating the Article 50 process” but on fighting against a version of our future which “tears us apart from our EU partners” – a ‘hard’ Brexit. The shadow Brexit secretary said that we needed to maintain close ties to the EU.

The second version of our future is a version where we exit the EU but build a new and strong relationship with our EU partners based on the principles of co-operation, collaboration and mutual benefit.”

Keir Starmer

Labour’s Brexit plan for trade

Starmer said that Labour would push for a trade model that:

  1. Ensures continued tariff-free trade with the EU
  2. Ensures that new regulatory frameworks don’t add “bureaucratic burdens” or “risk harmful divergence from the EU market”
  3. Protects the competitiveness of Britain’s services and manufacturing industry
  4. Ensures that worker protections provided by the EU are maintained

Free movement rules “must change”

The shadow Brexit secretary moved onto the issue of immigration saying that the “status quo is not an option”. He added that the government must “fight for the fullest possible market access and reasonable management of migration”.

Whilst saying that there must be some management of immigration, he would not support setting immigration targets. He also said that Theresa May’s stance of cutting net immigration to below 100,000 wasn’t credible.

A new Free Trade Agreement

What Keir Starmer’s speech indicates is that Labour would push for a new Free Trade Agreement with the EU. One that would allow as much access to the single market as possible and allow for some management of immigration.

In response to a question on a transitional deal, Starmer said that he would back one. This is useful because if they are pushing for a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a report by the House of Lords says it’s unlikely one can be negotiated in the timescale.

Labour’s plan seems to basically be what the government wants – but less ‘hard’. It does at least look more like a Brexit plan than the prime minister’s “red, white and blue Brexit”. However, with the EU’s insistence that the four freedoms cannot be divided and that there is no ‘cherry-picking’, Labour’s plan is looking pretty impossible.

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