Keir Starmer to make Brexit Britain follow EU rules ‘without any say’ as Labour leader vows to relax trade barriers
By Jack Walters
Published: 19/05/2023- 08:56
Updated: 19/05/2023- 16:10
Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to relax cross-continent trade barriers would make Brexit Britain follow European Union rules “without any say”, leading Eurosceptics have warned.
The Leader of the Opposition hopes to lower trade barriers with the EU within 18 months of entering Downing Street if the Labour Party manages to win the next general election.
The new agreement, which would alter the one signed by ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020, hopes to make it easier to trade food, medicines and animals.
Starmer also wants to hold regular summits attended by both UK and EU ministers and sets his sights on a new security pact with Brussels.
UK chief trade negotiator, David Frost, looks on as Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement
The Conservative Party has leapt on the chance to claim the Labour leader could somehow drag the UK back into the EU.
Lord David Frost, who worked as Brexit Minister under Johnson, said: “We can reduce our own trade barriers to the EU now, and should.
“Whether the EU will reduce theirs to us, that will only happen if all the UK follows EU rules without any say in setting them.
“Plainly Labour have no idea what's actually involved.”
Sir Keir Starmer also hopes to hold more regular summits with EU counterpartsPA
A Tory Party spokesman also warned: “Keir Starmer wants to rig British elections so EU nationals can vote for the British Government. It is obvious why.
“He wants to reopen Brexit, hand power back to Brussels and surrender to uncontrolled, unlimited immigration – after all this is what he’s campaigned for his entire political career.
“It’s now clear there are no promises Sir Keir won’t rip up.”
Starmer was a vocal proponent of a second referendum while serving as Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Brexit Secretary.
Rishi Sunak doubled-down on his pro-Brexit stance earlier this week
However, the former Director of Public Prosecutions has explicitly promised that the UK will not return to the single market or customs union - meaning Britain can retain control of its borders and negotiate its own free trade deals.
But ex-Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman, who is now chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation grassroots group, warned Starmer could drag the UK back into the EU's orbit.
He told GB News: "It's very dangerous talk because he would move us from an arms length relationship with the EU as now with a Super-Canada style trade deal to a Norway-style deal which means no control over immigration and having to accept all the EU's single market legislation with no say."
Campbell-Bannerman added: "Negotiating little bolt on agreements to the TCA, like allowing easy music tours round Europe is fine and we should do that, but I suspect he wants far more change than such little extra agreements to move us closer to the EU."
Boris Johnson knocked several chunks out of the Red Wall at the last election
Mark Francois, chairman of the European Research Group, also told GB News: "Having watched Keir Starmer, night after night in Parliament, try to frustrate us ever leaving the EU in the first place, I have always maintained he 'remains a Remainer' at heart."
The Rayleigh & Wickford MP added: "Now the truth is finally seeping out. That man would try to take us back into the EU, even without a referendum, if he ever got the chance."
However, Southside has rejected Conservative concerns about Starmer’s stance on Britain’s relationship with Europe.
A Labour spokesperson told GB News: “Labour is clear that we will make Brexit work. That means no return to the EU, the single market or customs union. Tory MPs will say anything in a desperate bid to distract from their botched deal, because they have no answers to their cost of living crisis which is hammering working people.”
Conservative Party MP Mark Francois speaks in the chamber of the House of Commons, Westminster
Brexit fault-lines could play a significant role at the next general election, with Labour hoping to recapture voters in the old heartlands of the Midlands and North East.
Johnson managed to reassure so-called Red Wall voters with his commitment to ‘Get Brexit Done’ as many life-long Labour voters backed the Conservative Party for the first time.
Rishi Sunak, also an ardent Brexiteer, will hope the after-taste of the 2016 referendum and hard-hitting topic of immigration can keep him in power.
The Prime Minister doubled-down on his Euroscepticism earlier this week in response to criticism from ex-Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage over the Government’s “failure” to take advantage of leaving the Brussels bloc.
Starmer was a vocal proponent of a second referendum while serving as Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Brexit SecretaryPA
Sunak said: “I voted for Brexit, I believe in Brexit. As Chancellor and Prime Minister, I am actually delivering the benefits of Brexit as opposed to talking about it.
“As Chancellor, I introduced freeports - a Brexit benefit around the country attracting jobs and investment to lots of different places.
“We cut VAT on sanitary products, we reformed the alcohol duties that mean this summer you will be able to get cheaper beer in pubs.
“These are all very tangible benefits of Brexit that I’ve already delivered as Chancellor.