Tory MPs are laughing at Starmer. His Brexit plans have even left Remainers nauseous - analysis by Millie Cooke

Starmer

In a surprising - and almost entirely unprovoked policy announcement - the Labour leader revealed that he plans to renegotiate the UK's deal with the EU in 2025.

PA
Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke


Published: 19/09/2023

- 15:11

Updated: 20/09/2023

- 07:37

One Tory insider branded the move a 'gift', chuckling over the fact that Starmer might have just lost himself both of next month's by-elections

This week, Sir Keir Starmer made the decision to reopen Brexit.

In a surprising - and almost entirely unprovoked policy announcement - the Labour leader revealed that he plans to renegotiate the UK's deal with the EU in 2025.


One Tory insider this morning branded the move a "gift", chuckling over the fact that Starmer might have just lost himself both upcoming by-elections.

Jacob Rees-Mogg claimed on GB News that it is the equivalent of conducting a second referendum "by stealth".

And James Cleverly outright described it as "delusional".

One thing is for sure: by reopening the debate, Starmer has mystified almost everyone.

Brexiteers just want to get on with living outside of the EU, making the most of the UK's independence. EU leaders are bored of the back and forth with the UK. And most Remainers seem to have stopped their campaign to bring the UK back into the EU. There was finally a little bit of peace.

So who has the Labour leader actually pleased with this policy announcement? Right now the most accurate answer seems to be, well, Tory MPs.

The Conservative Party had finally began to ease off on branding Starmer a "Rejoiner" - but now the Leader of the Opposition has started to discuss carving out a new relationship with the EU, they've been given some fresh ammunition.

The reopening of the Brexit debate, paired with last week's announcement that he wants to strike a cross-border returns deal for migrants with the EU (code for accepting a large number of migrants from EU shores in exchange for help with policing the border), could definitely be unsettling for prospective Labour voters. And the Conservatives are already seizing on it.

Raising fears of open borders, EU migrant quotas and even hinting at a move towards the Euro - it is clear that the party has been given some useful material.

There is genuine confusion among Tory ranks about why the Labour leader has jumped in so early to announce controversial policies ahead of two critical by-elections taking place next month.

By-elections won't be won on major policy announcements like this, as they wouldn't kick in until after the general election next year. But they might well be lost on it if eurosceptic voters get spooked by such a seemingly pro-European stance.

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Starmer

By reopening the debate, Starmer has mystified almost everyone.

PA

This morning, sources inside the Labour Party dismissed attempts to "spin" Starmer's plans into a rejoining of the EU as "lies", echoing Lord Frost's term "fantasy land".

But it's beside the point.

A new deal with the EU is the meatiest thing the Tories have been able to seize on since Starmer was pictured with a pint after Partygate.

Maybe he is trying to get the policy announcements out early, so the party has time for the dust to settle ahead of next year's general election.

But right now it seems like they may have just caused themselves an unnecessary battle ahead of two by-elections that could set the tone before the whole country goes to the polls.

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