Starmer defends EU rapprochement as Tories claim it would ‘unpick’ Brexit

Sir Keir Starmer has defended his plan for closer cooperation with the European Union as Labor stressed there is no intention of overturning Brexit.

The Labor leader insisted there was no chance of rejoining the EU, single market or customs union after the Tories seized on comments suggesting he would not “depart” from Brussels rules.

Sir Keir said he was simply stating that a Labor government would not lower standards in areas such as food safety or workers' rights.

The row arose after the Labor leader told a conference of centre-left politicians in Canada that under his leadership the UK could have a close relationship with the bloc because “we don't want to deviate, we don't want to lower standards”. .

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt argued the comments would “worry a lot of people that what he really wants to do is opt out of Brexit”.

But Sir Keir said there was “no case for rejoining the EU, no case for the customs union or the single market” and that laws would be “made in this country in the public interest”.

But he added: “This does not mean a Labor government would lower food standards or reduce the rights people have at work.

“This has been the consistent policy of the Labor Party for years. By the way, this is also the government's policy.”

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labor had accepted the result of the 2016 referendum but the party wanted “a better relationship with our nearest neighbors and trading partners”.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “It should come as no surprise to people that a new Labor government does not want to reduce workers' rights, environmental protection or food standards. This is not what Labor is about.

“But because we want those high standards, we think it's easier for a new Labor government to get a better deal with the EU to improve trade relations.

“Because the truth is that the deal that Boris Johnson secured three years ago is not good enough and we have seen a decline in trade between the UK and other European neighbours.”

He insisted there would be no “dynamic alignment”, where the UK follows changes from Brussels, and “we are not going to get rules”.

Ms Reeves pointed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's recent reinstatement of the bloc's Horizon research program as evidence that he was also not seeking an across-the-board departure from the EU.

Sir Keir could be heard suggesting in footage obtained by Sky News that the more the UK and Brussels “share a future together”, the less friction there would be between the two.



Obviously, the more we share values, the more we share a future together, the less conflict there is and, in fact, different ways of solving problems become available.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer

He has previously hinted that he would seek a closer relationship with the bloc if he wins power, but has shown caution in discussing those plans publicly.

Speaking at an international summit of “progressive” politicians, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the weekend, he was clearer about what his vision might include.

“Most of the conflict with the UK being outside (the EU) comes down to the extent to which the UK wants to diverge and do different things with the rest of our EU partners,” he said.

“Obviously, the more we share values, the more we share a future together, the less conflict there is and, in fact, different ways of solving problems become available.

“Actually, we don't want to deviate, we don't want to lower standards, we don't want to lower environmental standards, labor standards for working people, food standards and all the rest of it.”

Environment Secretary Mark Spencer accused the Labor leader of “obstruction” in his approach to Brussels, telling GB News: “To continue to obsess – as Labor does – on Brexit and look back with rose-tinted glasses and talk to follow it. rules, I think it just takes us back in time.”



We want to be good friends with our neighbors across the Channel. But I think any proposal you want to bring our laws and regulations into line with the EU will be of great concern to the people who voted for Brexit

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

Chancellor Mr Hunt told LBC: “I think these kinds of comments about him not wanting to secede will worry a lot of people that what he really wants to do is undo Brexit.

“And we will make a huge success of Brexit. We have already started doing it. And more to come.

“We want to be good friends with our neighbors across the Channel. But I think any proposal you want to bring our laws and regulations into line with the EU will worry many of the people who voted for Brexit.”

Labor will seek to win back parts of the electorate that voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum and talk of strengthening ties has so far been approached cautiously.