Reform not return

Starmer: ‘Labour will not take UK back into EU’

Sir Keir Starmer: no going back

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has made it clear that his party would not take the UK back into the EU, nor into the single market or customs union.

Instead, he said a Labour government would “Make Brexit work” through a five-point plan led by a reform of agricultural terms that Sir Keir has highlighted as a key blockage in the Northern Ireland talks.

His insistence that there will be no going back on the Brexit decision brought derision from the SNP whose Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Sir Keir’s position “strengthened the case for independence”.

In a speech to the Centre for European Reform, Sir Keir said that being outside of the Single Market and a Customs Union meant Britain could not deliver complete frictionless trade with the EU.

“But there are things we can do to make trade easier,” he said, such as following EU food safety and standards to remove some of the barriers associated with the border trade problems in Northern Ireland.

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Sir Keir insisted that there was no sense in returning to the past by pressing to rejoin the EU,” he said.

“There are some who say, ‘We don’t need to make Brexit work. We need to reverse it. I couldn’t disagree more. With Labour, Britain will not go back into the EU. We will not be joining the single market. We will not be joining a customs union.

“The reason I say this is simple. Nothing about revisiting those rows will help stimulate growth or bring down food prices or help British business thrive in the modern world.

“It would simply be a recipe for more division, it would distract us from taking on the challenges facing people, and it would ensure Britain remained stuck for another decade.”

Some will say that by shutting the door on rejoining the EU, Sir Keir is acknowledging that Labour lost many Northern MPs to the Brexit-supporting Tories.

But the SNP’s Ian Blackford said: “Keir Starmer has strengthened the case for independence by embracing the Tories’ hard Brexit.

“It is now beyond doubt that independence is Scotland’s only way back to Europe and the only path to economic prosperity.”

Sarwar promises new vision for UK

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has responded to Nicola Sturgeon’s series of statements on independence by launching his own sequence of papers outlining his vision for Scotland. 

“They will outline how we can strengthen Scotland in a reforming, changing, modernising UK,” he said at a meeting of the Fabian Society in London. 

He said the papers would show how Labour can deliver better government at all levels, make Scotland wealthier, healthier and fairer. 

Anas Sarwar
Anas Sarwar: we don’t need division to offer change (pic: Terry Murden)

“We will unveil plans to push powers out of our parliaments and into communities,” he said. 

“These papers will form Scottish Labour’s vision for change, complementing the work that Keir Starmer has asked Gordon Brown to do, exploring how we change the UK. 

“We don’t need to divide people to offer change.  And we don’t need a divisive referendum to deliver it.”

Cooperation between the two governments would be promoted though new joint governance councils and the House of Lords would be replaced by a directly elected Senate of the Nations and Regions. 

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