A frustrated Sir Keir Starmer has been forced to defend his latest remarks on Britain’s future relationship with the EU if he wins power next year.
Yesterday afternoon Sky News revealed a clip of Sir Keir speaking in Canada at the weekend, in which he admitted he doesn’t want to diverge from EU rules, laws and standards – one of the key Brexit benefits.
His latest comments stand in stark contrast to a speech he gave last year, in which he said: “We can use our flexibility outside the EU to ensure that British regulations are adapted to UK needs.”
The Tories immediately leapt on the comment as an example of another flip-flop by an avowed Remainer.
Michael Gove said his comments had “shown the real Keir Starmer”, adding: “He wants to return us to the EU effectively and he wants to rerun the Brexit agonies of the past.”
This lunchtime he was pressed about the comment, sighing before he answered.
Sir Keir told broadcasters: “I have repeatedly said that there’s no case for going back into the EU, and includes the Single Market and the Customs Union.
“Equally, we will not be a rule-taker, the rules and laws of this country will be made in Parliament according to the national interest.
“But that does not mean that a Labour Government wants to lower standards on food, wants to lower standards on people’s rights at work, the Labour Party’s been completely consistent on those issues for many many years – there’s no surprise here.
“Incidentally this is also Government Policy.”
Asked if he would confirm whether he would or would not be looking to diverge from EU rules, the Labour leader robotically repeated himself.
This morning Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has equally sought to bolster Labour’s Remain credentials, telling a newspaper the UK needs closer relations with the EU.
Mr Lammy pledged that Labour will “reconnect” Britain with Brussels, demanding a “fundamental” overhaul of the current Brexit deal.
The senior Labour spokesman said the 2025 review of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal should be used to fundamentally change Britain’s trading relationship with the EU.
However multiple EU commentators say that year’s review will be nothing of the sort, nor would the EU wish to reopen the current Brexit deal.
Other analysts say the 2025 review will be incredibly limited, focusing on fishing quotas and other changes such as electric vehicle batteries.
Europe commentator Anand Lemon said he is “sceptical” about Labour’s chance of a significant Brexit renegotiation.
Another neutral commentator earlier this week said Sir Keir’s EU policy is “delusional”.