Labour pledges to guarentee rights of EU citizens in Brexit talks

Chloe Chaplain
Brexit: Labour will pledge to guarantee rights of EU citizens: Rex Features

The Labour party is set to pledge to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK if it wins the election.

The shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, will say the party’s top priority in negotiations would be retaining the benefits of the single market and customs union if they are victorious on June 8.

A Bill to transfer relevant EU laws to Britain would be replaced with legislation that would protect employment and consumer rights as well as environmental protections when powers are repatriated.

The party will insist that failing to reach a deal with Brussels is not an option and will promise to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the final agreement.

Pledge: Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer (PA)

Sir Keir will say: "EU nationals do not just contribute to our society: they are our society. And they should not be used as bargaining chips.

"So on day one of a Labour government we will immediately guarantee that all EU nationals currently living in the UK will see no change in their legal status as a result of Brexit, and we will seek reciprocal rights for UK citizens in the EU.

"There could be no clearer signal that Britain is taking a new approach to Brexit than a Labour government immediately rectifying this injustice. And there could no clearer signal that Labour want a close and collaborative future relationship with our EU partners."

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain part of the single market as it would mean "not leaving the EU at all", while leaders across the bloc have warned that Britain cannot enjoy the benefits without agreeing to the rules, such as freedom of movement.

But Sir Keir will say: "The White Paper will have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union as Labour know that is vital to protecting jobs and the economy.

"And we will approach negotiations in a completely different way to a Tory Brexit: negotiating for the many, not the few. Where Theresa May wants to shut down scrutiny and challenge, Labour will welcome it.

Theresa May: The PM said the UK could not stay part of the single market (Getty Images)

"We will work with Parliament, not against it. Because on an issue of this importance, the Government can't hide from the public or Parliament. A Labour approach to Brexit means legislating to guarantee that Parliament has a truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal."

Under Labour's Brexit strategy, the Great Repeal Bill would be replaced by an EU Rights and Protections Bill.

"This will make sure that all EU-derived laws - including workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections - are fully protected without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses. We will work with trade unions, businesses and stakeholders to ensure there is a consensus on this vital issue.

Pledge: an anti-Brexit protester in London (AFP/Getty Images)

"A Labour approach to Brexit will ensure there can be no rolling back of key rights and protections."

Tony Blair said the Conservatives' position on Brexit must be "turned against them" and warned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn "this is not the time to fight a conventional partisan election".

The Labour former prime minister insisted he had "not urged tactical voting" after suggesting voters may support Lib Dems or Tories if they kept an open mind on EU exit negotiations.

Mr Blair said Mrs May's claims that her hand would be strengthened if she won a bigger majority had "real cut-through".

In an article for the Guardian, he wrote: "Labour voters, normally resistant to voting Tory, and even some remain voters, can understand the proposition that the person doing this negotiation should be strong. The Tory line about a coalition of chaos is a subset of the same theme.

"Labour has to have a strategy to break this down. We have to expose the fact that the mandate the Tories are asking for is not for an open negotiation in the interests of the country but for a "Brexit at any cost" driven by the ideology of the right of the Tory party.

"Yet if this is seen as a narrow Labour point, it will be much less persuasive."

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