Keir Starmer slammed over Brexit U-turn by GB News panelist
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The Labour leader vowed to “make Brexit work” and ruled out a push to rejoin the bloc should he become Prime Minister. It marked it his firmest rejection of ‘remain’ policies since becoming leader, despite pushing for a second referendum while under Jeremy Corbyn in 2019.
In Sir Keir’s speech about the EU, he argued he could remove trade and travel barriers as Prime Minister because the EU would trust him.
On Monday evening, he pledged to tackle what he called a “fatberg of red tape and bureaucracy” caused by Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Sir Keir said he was an “honest broker”, able to reach better compromises on key areas of disagreement with the EU such as the Northern Ireland protocol, while the Government’s approach had “eroded” trust in the UK.
He added: “Labour will change that. We will be the honest broker our countries need.
“We will get the protocol working and we will make it the springboard to securing a better deal for the British people.”
However, Sir Keir said matters like the single market, customs union and free movement of people, were “arguments of the past”.
Before the Labour leader spoke, London mayor Sadiq Khan stepped up his demands for Britain to rejoin the EU’s single market.
He told the BBC: “It’s possible to be outside the EU but be members of the single market.
“Keir’s job is to be leader of the Labour Party, my job is to be the Mayor of London.
“That’ll mean on many occasions I agree with the Labour Party, on some occasions I may disagree.
“Londoners elected me to be their champion, their advocate. I believe that our city and our country’s future is best served being members of the single market.”
Stella Creasy, senior Labour MP for Walthamstow MP, is chair of the Labour Movement for Europe, which campaigns for a future Labour government to “negotiate the closest possible relationship with the EU and to lay the foundations for the UK to one day rejoin” the bloc.
Responding to Sir Keir’s speech, Ms Creasy said: “This speech finally opens the door to a different future with Europe from the chaos Boris Johnson is creating.
“We are only just beginning to understand the damage Brexit is doing to Britain so we urge Keir to make sure nothing is off the table as a solution in the fight to tackle to cost-of-living crisis and protect jobs, trade and security.
“With breaking international law, a trade war and more red tape on offer from the Tories, Labour must show it understands our national interest lies in working with, not shouting at, our European counterparts.”
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Despite disagreements on Brexit, sources close to both Sir Keir and Mr khan told the i there was not a wider split in Labour.
A source said: “The Labour party is a broad church and there is a range of view, but I would say these are in a minority.”
Another close to Sir Keir added: “We have been clear for a long time what we want to do but I would suggest there is clarity in terms of our message.
“The policy stuff is not brand new, the new element is us taking it to Johnson himself as a challenge to his deal. The step-change is that is it more buoyant.”
Speaking to journalists after the address, Sir Keir was asked whether he was expecting his backbenchers to toe the line on the plan.
He said: “Well look, we’re out of the EU. We’ve got to, and we will, make Brexit work and that’s what I’ve been setting out today.
“And you can’t move forward by constantly looking over your shoulder at the past.
“I don’t think there’s an argument that reopening the divisions of the last few years is a recipe for growing our economy.”
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