Labour are sent into a spin as Starmer makes a desperate scramble to claim he won’t reverse Brexit
- Sir Keir Starmer was accused of ‘flip-flopping’ over the Labour Party’s policy
Labour was sent into a tailspin yesterday as Sir Keir Starmer was repeatedly asked to clarify his Brexit policy after saying he did not want to diverge from EU rules.
The party tried to reset the narrative but was forced on to the defensive as Sir Keir was accused of ‘flip-flopping’.
The questions overshadowed the party’s attempts to remind voters of the first anniversary of Liz Truss’s mini-budget that caused market turmoil. Sir Keir and his shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves made media appearances yesterday to announce their policy to give more power to the Office for Budget Responsibility watchdog.
But instead they faced questions about Brexit after footage emerged of the Labour leader saying the UK’s relations with the EU could be stronger if both took the same path.His remarks prompted a backlash from Tory MPs, who questioned the point of Brexit if the UK did not diverge from EU rules.
Following the outcry, Sir Keir was forced to mount a defence of his comments. He insisted there was ‘no case for rejoining the EU, for the customs union or single market’ and laws would be ‘made in the public interest’.
Labour was sent into a tailspin yesterday as Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) was repeatedly asked to clarify his Brexit policy after saying he did not want to diverge from EU rules
He added: ‘That does not mean a Labour government would lower standards on food or the rights people have at work. That’s been consistent Labour Party policy for years.’
Footage emerged on Thursday of Sir Keir telling a centre-Left conference in Montreal last week that ‘the more we share values’, the less UK-EU friction there would be.
Replying to a question from John McTernan, a former aide to Tony Blair, Sir Keir said: ‘We don’t want to diverge [or] lower standards, we don’t want to rip up environmental standards, working standards, food standards and all the rest of it.’
Yesterday, Tory environment minister Mark Spencer accused Sir Keir of ‘flip-flopping’, adding: ‘One minute he’s saying he wants to have free movement, then the next he wants to control our borders. He doesn’t have a clear policy and seems to make it up on the hoof.’
He accused Sir Keir of being ‘obsessed’ with getting into power but lacking principles.
‘We’ve got to acknowledge democracy happened: The country voted to leave the EU. To keep obsessing over Brexit and looking back with pink-tinted spectacles just takes us back in time.’ But Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan argued Sir Keir was ‘right’ to demand a better deal than what he called the ‘extreme hard Brexit’ version negotiated by Boris Johnson.
Asked whether the City of London’s financial services would be improved by closer alignment with the EU, Mr Khan said: ‘I think there should be a closer alignment with the European Union. That would mean though, negotiating on the deal we currently have.’
Tory environment minister Mark Spencer (pictured) accused Sir Keir of ‘flip-flopping’
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