Follow Us

Follow us on Twitter  Follow us on LinkedIn

27 August 2017

Keir Starmer: No ‘constructive ambiguity’. Labour will avoid Brexit cliff edge for UK economy

Default: Change to:

Labour will seek a transitional deal and seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market.

[...]Labour has repeatedly emphasised that in order to avoid a cliff edge for our economy there will need to be a time-limited transitional period between our exit from the EU and the new lasting relationship we build with our European partners. This is a view shared widely by businesses and trade unions, who recognise the huge damage that an abrupt separation from the EU would cause to our economy.

[...] There is now near consensus that a transitional period is an economic and political necessity. So I want to be absolutely clear about the type of transitional deal Labour would seek to negotiate. No “constructive ambiguity”. No mixed messages. A credible solution to one of the most important issues facing Britain’s exit from the EU.

Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both. [..]

By remaining inside a customs union and the single market in a transitional phase we would be certain that goods and services could continue to flow between the EU and the UK without tariffs, customs checks or additional red tape. There would be no need to set up complex alternative customs or trading relations. Given that UK-EU combined import/export trade totalled £553bn last year, this certainty would be hugely advantageous for British businesses and consumers. This arrangement would also safeguard the important social protections and rights that come from being within the single market.

There are a number of other significant advantages to this approach. First, it is a grown-up acknowledgement that bespoke transitional arrangements are highly unlikely to be negotiated, agreed and established in the next 18 months. Second, it provides maximum certainty for businesses and allays concerns that there will be delays or disruptions to trade when we leave the EU in March 2019. It would also ensure there will be a one-step transition to a new final relationship.






Fourth, it would enable negotiations to focus on the central Brexit issue: the nature of the new partnership that needs to be built between the UK and the EU. This is challenging enough without having to negotiate separate transitional arrangements at the same time.

Labour also recognise that this transitional arrangement would – for all its merits – be imperfect and prove unsustainable beyond a limited period.

It would not provide a durable or acceptable long-term settlement for Britain or the EU. It would not provide certainty for either party. It leaves unresolved some of the central issues the referendum exposed – in particular the need for more effective management of migration, which Labour recognise must be addressed in the final deal.

That is why a transitional period under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. It cannot become a kind of never-ending purgatory. That would simply create its own uncertainty and ambiguity.

Instead, transitional arrangements must be a bridge to a strong and lasting new relationship with the EU – not as members, as partners. That new progressive partnership should be based on our common values and shared history. It must extend far beyond trade and security to include education, science, technology, medicine and culture.

It must be based on a deal that, as Labour made clear in our manifesto, retains the benefits of the customs union and the single market. How that is ultimately achieved is secondary to the outcome.

[...] We will always put jobs and the economy first. That means remaining in a form of customs union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but that must be subject to negotiations.

It also means that Labour is flexible as to whether the benefits of the single market are best retained by negotiating a new single market relationship or by working up from a bespoke trade deal. [...]

Full opinion piece on The Guardian

Related articles:

FedTrust: Labour makes a move but is it in the right direction?

© The Guardian

< Next Previous >
 Hover over the blue highlighted text to view the acronym meaning
Hover over these icons for more information

Add new comment