Are there hidden dangers in Sir Starmer's speech? You bet your home there is
What does he really mean?
Yesterday in London Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gave the keynote speech at a birthday party for a pro-EU think tank, the ‘Centre for European Reform. His subject was Brexit.
Whilst this was a private event I have a copy of his speech and I have analysed it. Below I present a summary for readers, with an elaboration of what his words actually mean.
Let’s start with the apparent ‘headline’ positives for Brexiteers
The headlines about Sir Keir Starmer’s comments yesterday are the same across the media.
“So let me be very clear. Under Labour, Britain will not go back into the EU. We will not be joining the Single Market. We will not be joining a customs union.”
- Sir Keir Starmer, 04 July 2022
So far, so good. If Labour wants to win back the ‘Red Wall’ constituencies it lost to the Conservatives at the 2019 General Election he could not have said anything else.
Before the analysis of the rest of his speech, here is some context on the Labour leader’s views about Brexit.
Sir Keir Starmer’s track record on Brexit
Keir Starmer was an ardent Remainer who has the following history:
- 2016 Referendum: Campaigned strongly for Remain
- Jun 2016 through 2017: Failed to accept the result of the largest-ever democratic decision of the British people
- 2018: “Nobody is ruling out Remain as an option.” (Labour Party Conference 2018)
- 2019: “There are many in the Labour party who feel we need to be very clear about a second referendum and about making the case for Remain. That’s certainly what I’m advocating.” (Webinar, 12 June 2019)
- Sept 2020: “And on Brexit, let me be absolutely clear. The debate between Leave and Remain is over. We’re not going to be a party that keeps banging on about Europe.” (Labour Connected Conference, 22 Sept 2020 — the Damascene conversion after becoming leader after Labour lost the 2019 General Election.)
- Jan 2021: “I don’t think that there’s scope for major renegotiation. We’ve just had four years of negotiation. We’ve arrived at a treaty and now we’ve got to make that treaty work.” (Andrew Marr Show, BBC, 11 Jan 2021)
What else did the Labour leader say yesterday?
Excerpts from Sir Keir Starmer’s speech, Mon 04 Jun 2022
“There are some who say ‘we don’t need to make Brexit work — we need to reverse it.’ I couldn’t disagree more. Because you cannot move forward… if you’re constantly focused on the arguments of the past.”
“Now, I know some people don’t want to hear that, but… It would simply be a recipe for more division… It is a proper plan to Make Brexit Work…. and you wouldn’t expect the lawyer in the room to skim on the detail.”
Sadly there was no detail in the speech.
1. The Northern Ireland veterinary and foods question
“The first step is clear and obvious. We must sort out the Northern Ireland Protocol. If you’re going to Make Brexit Work, that has to be the starting point.”
“As well as building trust, Labour would eliminate most border checks created by the Tory Brexit deal with a new veterinary agreement for agri-products between the UK and EU.”
So what does that actually mean
This would mean aligning the UK’s food and agricultural laws permanently with those of Brussels. The UK would have no say over these and would simply have to apply the EU’s laws, rules and regulations automatically. It would also severely hinder the trade deals the UK has already been signing with countries around the world.
“Labour would extend that new veterinary agreement to cover all the UK, seeking to build on agreements and mechanisms already in place between the EU and other countries — benefiting our exporters at a stroke.”
Realy Starmer? Because The EU has consistently refused to do this.
Let's move on
2. Re-unifying the United Kingdom
“And we will work with business to put in place a better scheme to allow low-risk goods to enter Northern Ireland without unnecessary checks.”
Say what? This would require a renegotiation of the Treaty, which the EU has refused. “We will not renegotiate.”
- Maros Sefcovic, EU Commission Vice President in charge of UK-EU relations
3. Mutual recognition of standards
“The third step will be to support Britain’s world-leading industries. That means mutual recognition of professional qualifications ensuring our services can compete and restoring access to funding and vital research programm
Sorry. The EU aren’t interested.
4. Security and intelligence
“…Labour will seek new security arrangements to defend our borders. It’s why we will share data, intelligence, and best practice and it’s why we will set up joint intelligence working here and in Europe.”
The EU would grab this in an instant. The UK’s intelligence services are known to be the best in Europe. It would have ongoing implications for the UK’s membership of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence apparatus with its allies around the world. By the way, Starmer's statement also implies acceptance of the ‘European Arrest Warrant’, whereby foreign judges can order the extradition of UK nationals to countries on grounds no British court could accept. There is no doubt the EU would demand this.
Finally, and as I have reported many times, the EU has no interest in a ‘returns’ agreement for its illegal migrants crossing the English Channel in ever-increasing numbers.
There are two main points I would make about Starmer’s speech yesterday.
Firstly, he is naïve about the EU. We must do our best to have cordial relations with our neighbours but we are dealing with an autocratic regime, run by unelected bureaucrats intent on punishing the British people for having voted to leave their empire.
Secondly, there is every possibility that Labour might end up forming a coalition government with the LibDems after the next General Election.
Given the LibDems’ stated intention to take the UK back into the European Union, what compromises would Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party make in order to form a government?
Let me again show you Starmer's stance on the EU. He is without a doubt a staurnch Remainer/Rejoiner
Here he is with his then-boss Corbyn in London
He tweeted this
Good to have further discussions about the Brexit negotiations with the chief EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, in London today.
(Left-right) Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, Sir Keir Starmer and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones at EU headquarters in Brussels
SKY news report 2019
In a dramatic policy shift, Labour is pledging to continue UK membership of the EU single market and the customs union during a transitional period following Brexit in March 2019.
The party’s shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, has also not ruled out negotiating the possibility of a new single market and customs arrangement on a permanent basis.
Effectively, a Labour government would try to keep Britain inside an economic union while leaving the political union with the European Union.
We just can't trust a word this man says, a leopard never changes its spots
Sources: CER | Labour Party