Brexit: Labour sets out six ‘red lines’ on final EU deal

Sir Keir Starmer, Labours shadow Brexit secretary, told the BBCs Andrew Marr that freedom of movement will have to be scrapped. Picture: PA
Sir Keir Starmer, Labours shadow Brexit secretary, told the BBCs Andrew Marr that freedom of movement will have to be scrapped. Picture: PA
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Labour will reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU if it doesn’t deliver the “exact same benefits” as being in the European single market and customs union, the party has warned.

In a speech today, Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer will set out six tests which the deal will have to pass in order for Labour MPs to vote for it.

Labour MPs voted against membership of the Single Market . It’s not just that the horse has bolted, Labour opened the stable door

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader

Sir Keir will warn of a “worrying and increasingly powerful move” by Tory MPs to use Brexit to rid the UK of decades of European social protections.

“This is the authentic voice of the Brexiteers,” he is expected to say. “Those who have argued for decades that exiting the EU offers a once in a generation chance for Britain to extricate herself from the entire European social and economic model: Employment rights. Environmental protections. Fair corporate tax rates. Investment in public services such as the NHS.

“This ideologically driven approach to Brexit would be disastrous and divisive”

Sir Keir will warn that leaving the EU without a deal would be the “worst of all possible outcomes”, and demand that the Prime Minister commit to transitional arrangements to ease the UK out of Europe over a number of years.

And ahead of the publication on Thursday of a white paper on the Great Repeal Bill, which will transfer EU legislation into UK law, Sir Keir will demand MPs are given a full say on any changes.

The white paper is expected to set out the use of secondary legislation to deal with large swathes of EU regulation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday warned against using so-called Henry VIII powers to push through changes to EU rules, calling the move “dictatorial”.

“Any stripping-down or drop in EU-derived rights must be delivered through primary legislation and with proper transparency and accountability,” Sir Keir is expected to say.

Parliamentarians will have a vote on the final deal before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

However, ministers insist that if MPs reject the terms agreed by the government, the UK will leave anyway, abruptly ending European co-operation and putting up harsh trade barriers with the EU.

In an attempt to harden Labour’s stance on Brexit after accusations that the party was allowing the government to have its way, Sir Keir said yesterday: “I do not accept that we can’t have the same benefits.

“Those words, exact same benefits, are not my words, they are in my test, but they are taken from David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU.

“When he was pressed on this in Parliament he said that he would deliver a comprehensive free trade agreement and a customs arrangement that delivered the exact same benefits as the single market and the customs union so we are holding him to that test.”

Meanwhile, Sir Keir also said freedom of movement will have to be scrapped and the UK should be prepared to pay a Brexit divorce bill.

He told the BBC: “We are clear that immigration was part of the debate in the referendum and therefore there has got to be change to the freedom of movement rules, so that goes.

“That has to go and when we exit the EU, therefore there won’t be that rule.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the UK could face a Brexit bill of £50 billion.

Sir Keir said that “when a figure is arrived at that is a figure that the UK as an international country would pay”.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said it was “beyond parody” that Labour was setting out its demands after voting in favour of legislation to allow the government to trigger Brexit .

“Just weeks ago, Labour MPs voted against membership of the Single Market and to give Theresa May a blank cheque for a hard Brexit.

“It’s not just that the horse has bolted, Labour opened the stable door.

“If Labour were serious about preventing a destructive hard Brexit, they would support giving the people the final say over the deal the government comes back with.”