Labour's Brexit policy shifts towards transitional deal

Labour frontbencher Sir Keir Starmer
Credit
Stefan Rousseau  PA

"Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we now enjoy with the EU".

"[Our proposals are] a grown-up acknowledgment that bespoke transitional arrangements are highly unlikely to be negotiated, agreed and established in the next 18 months", he said, adding, "It would enable negotiations to focus on the central Brexit issue: the nature of the new partnership that needs to be built between the United Kingdom and 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".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said it would be "as short as possible, but as long as is necessary".

Nigel Farage, former leader of the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party, also criticised the Labour move.

"Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we now enjoy with the EU", Starmer wrote.

Lib Dems are to force a vote on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Economic Area (EEA) - and therefore the single market - when the Government's key Brexit legislation returns to the Commons at the end of Westminster's summer break in September.

While the vast majority of the party's MPs were in favour of remaining in the European Union, the picture within its members and supporters was mixed with a significant number of traditional Labour voters expressing concerns over immigration.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given a cautious welcome to a change of emphasis from Labour on Brexit.

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But they have made clear that Britain must be outside the EU single market and customs union during the transition so it can exercise more control over immigration and strike up new trade deals with other countries.

She added: "I would really hope that Labour gets itself into a position away from the hard Brexit position it's been pursuing".

"The advantage Mrs May has is the country knows she's leaving".

"Not for some transitional period, but period".

A government source said Britain would point to the papers it has published over the past two weeks on both the future relationship and the divorce to show how officials have been working "diligently to inform the negotiations".

Labour needs to make up its mind whether it is with the Conservatives, seeking to take us out of the single market and customs union, or with the Liberal Democrats who want to protect jobs by remaining inside.

Starmer said Labour would make jobs and the economy a priority in any settlement.

"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".

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