Labour will find renegotiating EU deal 'really difficult', says former Brexit negotiator

Labour will find renegotiating EU deal 'really difficult', says former Brexit negotiator
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 10/07/2024

- 06:41

The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Frost has said he does not believe that the Labour party have realised the extent of the challenge they have taken on by promising to negotiate the UK’s deal.

Lord Frost also said the Conservative Party must ‘unite around conservative principles’ and blamed the party for the rise of Reform.

Speaking to GB News, Lord Frost said: “A lot has happened since earlier this year. [Pop Con] is now a forum for discussion, and there was a good discussion today where everybody is just setting out their stall and beginning to think about where we go after this defeat.

“I've set out my view, which is that we must unite around Conservative principles. We don't need to tilt left. We mustn't tilt to a segment of the right, we need broad Conservative principles, which I think command broad agreement in the country,

“I think there are different tactical approaches, but the important thing is to reunite the right. And I think if we, the Conservative Party, can unite around properly Conservative principles and principles that those who voted for Reform recognise as Conservative, then we can start to reoccupy that ground.

“The reason the Reform Party exists is because we allowed them to. We vacated that turf and allowed a competitor, and you don't win elections when that happens,

“I think there's definitely a fringe on the left that is for sure, but I think there would be broad agreement around Conservative principles: national independence, free markets, getting the government off people's backs, controlling migration, giving the government power to govern, fighting the culture war.

“Those are all things that I think most people in the party would agree with. The important thing is to have confidence in them, project them as arguments and show that they are the best ideas for dealing with the country's problems. And unfortunately, we've got four or five years to do that again.

“I think we should give ourselves time [to elect a new leader]. I think it might be a good idea to have a caretaker, an interim leader, to give ourselves enough time. But the important thing is to have time to discuss.

“We know who the runners and riders are. I hope it will be somebody who believes in conservative principles, can cut through the political argument and represent them and convince people they believe in them.

‘And I think there are a number of people who could do that, and we'll have to see who goes forward.

“It's too soon to talk about individuals, we don't know the terms of the race yet. We don't know who's fully in the field. We need to hear all of them.

“Being in opposition is different to being in government, the skills that are needed are different. The ability to cut through the media and get a hearing is very important. We need to allow time for that to all happen.”

Discussing the Labour Party’s position on the EU, Lord Frost said:

“I am fearful that they want to take us back closer. I don't think they can rejoin imminently, though I'm sure that the leadership of the Labour Party would like to if they got the chance.

“But I do wonder whether Labour really thought this through. They talk very glibly about smoothing the edges off the deal, getting closer to the EU; you always have to pay for doing that.

“It's very easy to wander around Europe getting warm words from the member states. It's the Commission that represents the EU's interests. They're tough negotiators, and if you want to change things, you're going to have to accept EU court, EU law, and subordination to EU foreign policy. I don't know whether Labour really get that yet.

“I'm sure many of them wouldn't mind that much if they got [free movement]. I don't think they really believe in controlling migration, they can just see that it's a really difficult political issue for them and a lot of their voting base.

“I don't think the EU is willing to divide up their single market. They've never really shown themselves willing to and I don't think Labour have really understood the task they've taken on. I think they'll find it extremely difficult.”


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