Labour government would scrap Tories’ Brexit white paper, Keir Starmer says

Jon Stone
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer: PA

A Labour government would scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit white paper and draw up new negotiating priorities for taking Britain out of the EU, the party will announce on Tuesday.

Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer will spell out his party’s plan to retain the “benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”, which the party says will be key to preventing job losses and economic malaise after leaving.

In a speech aimed at clarifying the party’s position on Brexit Mr Starmer will pledge an immediate and “unconditional” rights for EU nationals to remain on the basis that “they should not be used as bargaining chips”.

Labour would also scrap the Government’s Great Repeal Bill and replace it with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that would “make sure that all EU-derived laws – including workplace laws, consumer rights and environmental protections – are fully protected without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses”.

Despite its name, the Great Repeal Bill in fact enshrines all EU statute into UK law before Britain leaves. Ministers say rules can be repealed on a case-by-case basis after Brexit.

Recent polls have suggested Labour’s Brexit stance has confused even a large proportion of its own supporters as the party struggles to communicate its views to the electorate.

Mr Starmer will say in his speech at One St George’s Street in London: “A Labour Government will set out a new Brexit strategy.

“We will scrap the Government’s Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that reflect Labour values and our six tests.

“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. 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.”

Labour’s attempt to communicate its position comes as a new YouGov poll shows that an increasing proportion of the public believe Brexit is a bad idea. The proportions in favour and against are 44 per cent apiece, the survey found.

Previous polls in the same series by the firm have all showed leads for people believing Brexit is a good idea.

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