Labour Clarifies Brexit Position – Free Movement To Remain During Transition
Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer (pictured above) has clarified the party’s position on the Single Market and the transitional arrangements for Brexit ahead of the latest round of talks in Brussels this week.
Writing in The Observer Mr. Starmer said that Labour believed that the UK should remain in both the single market and the customs union during the transitional period and that the length of this period should be ‘as short as possible but as long as necessary’.
The shift in Labour’s policy would mean accepting continuing free movement of people after the scheduled exit date of March 2019.
Mr. Starmer said a transitional period was needed to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ for the economy, so that goods and services could continue to flow between the EU and UK while complex negotiations on the permanent deal continued.
‘Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU.
‘That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period.
‘It means we would abide by the common rules of both.’
He compared this with the government’s preference for ‘bespoke’ transitional arrangements, which he said were highly unlikely to be negotiated before March 2019.
The customs union is the EU’s tariff-free trading area, while the single market also includes the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
After the transitional period, Mr. Starmer said, the new relationship with the EU would ‘retain the benefits of the customs union and the single market’, but how that would be achieved ‘is secondary to the outcome’.
Remaining in a form of customs union with the EU was a ‘possible end destination’ for Labour, he said, but that must be ‘subject to negotiations’.
‘It also means that Labour is flexible as to whether the benefits of the single market are best retained by negotiating a new single market relationship or by working up from a bespoke trade deal.’
He said a final deal must address the ‘need for more effective management of migration’.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office confirmed that the proposals had been agreed with him and were official policy.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was a ‘sensible and reasonable’ approach to take, and would give working people ‘certainty’ on their jobs and rights at work.
But Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said it was ‘all spin and no principle’.
Westmonster Dave is the News Editor of Kipper Central.