Labour does not plan to rejoin EU, Keir Starmer says, after claim Brexit at risk

Sir Keir Starmer stands in front of a TV camera
-Credit: (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)


Labour has no plans to rejoin the EU, Sir Keir Starmer has said, after Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch claimed Brexit would be at risk if he became Prime Minister.

She described Brexit as a "10 or 20-year project" in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, and claimed any benefits would disappear under a Labour government.

But Sir Keir ruled out re-joining the EU while speaking to reporters during a campaign visit in South London.

"We are not re-joining the EU, we are not re-joining the single market or the customs union," the Labour leader said.

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Asked if he would ever reconsider this, Sir Keir added: "No. It isn't our plan, it never has been, I've never said that as leader of the Labour Party and it is not in our manifesto."

He said he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU and "much more collaboration" on research and development, education, security, and other areas, adding that it was all subject to negotiation.

"But I do think we can get a better deal with the EU, and if we are elected to government that is what we will endeavour to do," he said.

Asked by the PA news agency about support for rejoining the EU among young people who did not get to vote in the referendum, Sir Keir said it was the "nature" of a one-off referendum that only the electorate at the time was able to take part.

He added: "I would also say this, I voted to remain. I campaigned to remain. But what that referendum did was to throw politics into turmoil for three years, between 2016 to 2019 our Parliament couldn't get anything done.

"It caused huge uncertainty and I don't think returning to that kind of division and uncertainty is actually going to help us rebuild our economy, rebuild our country, grow the wealth and create the wealth that we need, or the secure jobs of the future."

The Brexit referendum took place eight years ago on June 23, 2016.

Speaking to The Telegraph Ms Badenoch countered criticism of the progress made on leaving the EU since then.

She said: "This is a 10 or 20-year project. We've just started.

"It's like building a house and someone comes in and says 'oh, he's not done yet, he's failed'. Or you're cooking something and, five minutes later, 'it's not cooked yet, it's not working, let's stop'.

She claimed the Tories were trying to focus on a strategy of getting benefits from Brexit, adding: "That's something that's going to disappear if Labour come in, they will take us backwards. They will take us back to square one. They're just going to copy the EU."