Now the mask slips on Brexit: Backlash grows against Keir Starmer as the Labour leader reveals he would renegotiate Rishi Sunak’s deal with the EU if in power – with Tories accusing him of wanting to ‘hand power back to Brussels’
- Vauxhall’s parent company says it won’t be able to make EVs without new deal
Months after Rishi Sunak brokered a new agreement, the Labour leader said the UK needed ‘a better deal’.
After calling for a ‘closer trading relationship’ with the EU he was accused of wanting to return power to Brussels and reopen Brexit. His comments were a response to warnings from car chiefs that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU needed to change to protect UK factories and thousands of jobs.
Vauxhall’s parent company Stellantis told MPs it would not be able to keep a commitment to make electric vehicles here without a new deal.
Sir Keir, who this week revealed plans to give EU nationals a vote in general elections, told the BBC: ‘Of course we want a closer trading relationship, we absolutely do. We want to ensure that Vauxhall and many others not just survive in this country but thrive.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking during the British Chambers Commerce Annual Global conference
Months after Rishi Sunak brokered a new agreement, the Labour leader said the UK needed ‘a better deal’
‘Because there are jobs bound up, there are families watching either employed by Vauxhall or a similar place who are deeply worried about what this means. So yes we need a better Brexit deal. We will make Brexit work. That doesn’t mean reversing the decision and going back into the EU but the deal we’ve got, it was said to be oven-ready, it wasn’t even half-baked.’
He later insisted there was ‘no case for going back in’ to the EU while saying the just-in-time model of manufacturing had been ‘impeded’ by trade friction.
But a Conservative Party spokesman said: ‘Keir Starmer wants to rig British elections so EU nationals can vote for the British government. It is obvious why.
‘He wants to reopen Brexit, hand power back to Brussels and surrender to uncontrolled, unlimited immigration – after all this is what he’s campaigned for his entire political career. It’s now clear there are no promises Sir Keir won’t rip up.’
In other developments yesterday:
- Mr Sunak, travelling to Japan for a G7 meeting, insisted he would bring down taxes when inflation cooled;
- The PM also backed away from a manifesto pledge to cut net migration to below a quarter of a million;
- His deputy Oliver Dowden attacked Labour’s plans to open up general election ballots to as many as ten million more voters by the end of the decade, saying: ‘While the Conservatives will stop the boats, Labour will rig the votes’;
- Tory former cabinet minister Lord Frost called for deregulation and tax cuts, and criticised plans by Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, to give renters more rights and ban no-fault evictions;
- Chancellor Jeremy Hunt suggested the ‘default’ location for workers should be in the office and warned that logging on from home could stifle creativity.
Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden reacts during Prime Minister’s Questions, at the House of Commons
Responding to Sir Keir’s remarks, Tory former Brexit minister David Jones said: ‘It’s fairly clear from Starmer’s comments that he would be prepared to contemplate the UK rejoining the Customs Union or moving even closer into the orbit of Brussels.
‘This should come as no surprise. He spent a large part of the last parliament pushing for a second referendum.’
Mark Francois, chairman of the European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers, said: ‘Having watched Keir Starmer, night after night in Parliament, try to frustrate us ever leaving the EU in the first place, I have always maintained that he “Remains a Remainer” at heart.
‘Now the truth is finally seeping out. That man would try to take us back into the EU, even without a referendum, if he ever got the chance.’
But Labour claimed it was a ‘confected’ row. A party source said: ‘The Government has said it will renegotiate the TCA. That’s part of the deal. It comes up for review in 2025 whoever is in government.’
Addressing the National Conservatism Conference in central London, Lord Frost warned the Tories would not win the next election as the party of ‘the self-satisfied and entitled’, and said there was suppressed anger and frustration among people that the party ignored at its peril.