The Labour leader sought to put an end to months of speculation about his views on the EU as he made a speech setting out his party’s position last night. He ruled out rejoining the EU or the single market if Labour comes to power and added that the UK would not join a customs union under his party’s leadership.
Setting out a five-point plan to “make Brexit work”, he said his party would eliminate “most border checks created by the Tory Brexit deal” by implementing a “new veterinary agreement for Agri-products between the UK and EU”.
Brussels has insisted such a deal is only available if Britain agrees to align with EU rules.
Seizing on the remarks, Leavers have warned Sir Keir cannot be trusted and that he would start the process of reversing Brexit.
Conservative peer Lord Moylan said the comments from the Labour leader were a part of the “Rejoiner playbook”.
He said Sir Keir’s plan was to: “Say you’re not going to reverse Brexit while seeking dynamic alignment with EU law as a step to re-entering the Single Market as a rule-taker.
“And never allow a referendum.”
Meanwhile, Patrick O’Flynn, a former UKIP MEP, wrote in The Spectator: “We know from the tortuous Brexit negotiations that the EU will not willingly reopen the withdrawal agreement or trade and cooperation agreement unless there is either a gun to its head or the UK is offering something substantial in return.
“Starmer’s Labour is never going to go down the gun route, so one must assume the Theresa May approach of formally ruling out stuff like customs union membership while constructing devices which in reality amount to just that will be back in evidence.”
He described Sir Keir of attempting to create a “Lewis Carroll Brexit” where he claims the UK has left the EU but in reality is still a part of the Brussels club because “words mean just what the Labour leader chooses them to mean”.
In a speech to the Centre for European Reform at an event at the Irish Embassy in London, Sir Keir had said that reopening the debate about rejoining the EU would just sow further division in Britain.
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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.
“Because you cannot move forward or grow the country or deliver change or win back the trust of those who have lost faith in politics if you’re constantly focused on the arguments of the past.
“We cannot afford to look back over our shoulder because all the time we are doing that we are missing what is ahead of us.
“So let me be very clear. Under 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.”
Concluding his keynote speech, Sir Keir added: “In 2016, the British people voted for change. The very narrow question that was on the ballot paper – leaving or remaining in the EU – is now in the past.
“But the hope that underpinned that vote – the desire for a better, fairer, more equitable future for our country is no closer to being delivered.
“We will not return to freedom of movement to create short-term fixes, instead we will invest in our people and our places and deliver on the promise our country has.”