Keir Starmer rules out Britain having a closer Swiss-style Brexit relationship with the EU if Labour takes power – and slams Nicola Sturgeon’s focus on Scottish independence referendum
- Opposition leader said he had looked into a closer relationship with Brussels
- But told Telegraph podcast he had decided it would not work for the UK in future
- Added: ‘There’s no going back, but the deal we’ve got isn’t good enough’
Sir Keir Starmer today ruled out a Swiss-style post-Brexit relationship with Brussels if Labour takes power as he vowed to fight the next election on the economy.
The Opposition leader, who backed Remain in 2016, said he had looked into a closer relationship with Brussels but had decided it would not work for the UK.
He made the remarks to a politics podcast, also saying that his MPs should not be on picket lines as the country braces for sweeping public sector strikes over the festive period.
He has warned his shadow cabinet against ‘complacency’ as the party enjoys a substantial lead in the polls, insisting ‘every single vote has to be earned’.
At the weekend reports suggested the Conservative Government was mulling a relationship with the EU similar to that enjoyed by Switzerland over the next decade, prompting Brexiteer fury.
While not a member of the bloc, Switzerland has access to the single market and is part of the visa-free Schengen zone under a series of bilateral agreements.
It also makes billion-pound ‘cohesion’ payments to Brussels and accepts freedom of movement.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak have both distanced their party from the idea and speaking to The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, Sir Keir said: ‘I went to Switzerland and studied that model and I wouldn’t do a Swiss model.
‘There’s no going back, but the deal we’ve got isn’t good enough. We’ve got to improve on that.’
The Opposition leader, who backed remain in 2016, said he had looked into a closer relationship with Brussels but had decided it would not work for the UK.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak have both distanced their party from the idea
The Labour leader also had a pop at Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s ongoing independence drive, saying: ‘This is no time for a referendum.
‘There is so much that we need to do that is of a much higher priority than the constitutional argument.’
He said Labour’s offer at the next election will be to ‘stabilise and grow our economy’, stressing that ‘everything hangs off that’.
He said he would like to see ‘lower tax on working people’, but declined to ‘spell out our manifesto now’.
‘Quite often the Labour Party doesn’t want to fight an election on the economy,’ he said.
‘We want to fight the election on the economy. We’ve got to grow our economy, because that’s the only way that we can actually make the progress that we need to make.’
He said the current tax burden – the highest sustained level since the Second World War – is ‘anti-Conservative stuff’.
‘I want taxes to come down for working people,’ he said.
‘They’ve been really clobbered time and time again, whether that’s on income tax, whether it’s national insurance or council tax or the stealth tax thresholds, everywhere you look.’
However, he warned it is ‘very important’ that ‘we don’t make promises we can’t keep’.
Pressed on whether the hope is to bring taxes down if Labour wins power, he said: ‘I would like to see lower tax on working people, yes.’
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