Keir Starmer says Brexit debate is over and vows Labour won’t rejoin the EU


Labour will not seek to take the country back into the EU or single market if it beats the Tories at the next election.

Sir Keir Starmer has set out his Brexit position in an effort to win back voters who switched their allegiance to Boris Johnson.

He said it was the job of the next government to ‘make Brexit work’ rather than relitigate issues from the referendum and previous election.

Setting out a five-point plan in a speech, he vowed Labour would not seek to ‘reverse’ Brexit’ while Boris Johnson’s record.

In a speech to the Centre for European Reform at an event at the Irish Embassy in London, he said: ‘There are some who say, “We don’t need to make Brexit work – we need to reverse it”. I couldn’t disagree more.

‘Because you cannot move forward or grow the country or deliver change or win back the trust of those who have lost faith in politics if you’re constantly focused on the arguments of the past.

‘We cannot afford to look back over our shoulder because all the time we are doing that we are missing what is ahead of us.’

As shadow Brexit secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir pushed for a pro-EU position, including arguing for a second referendum.

The Labour leader set out his approach to resetting relations with the EU in a speech (Picture: PA)

But he has moved to shift the party decisively to a settled position ahead of the next general election.

He said revisiting the Brexit debate would be bad for the economy and ‘simply be a recipe for more division, it would distract us from taking on the challenges facing people and it would ensure Britain remained stuck for another decade’.

Sir Keir ruled out reintroducing freedom of movement or rejoining a customs union, while making fixing trade issues with Northern Ireland his priority. 

The policy announcement comes amid speculation Durham Constabulary could soon reveal whether they will fine Sir Keir over a potential breach of Covid-19 rules.

He is under investigation over footage of him drinking a beer indoors with other Labour MPs and staff, an incident he has repeatedly said did not fall foul of the legislation at the time.

Video grab of Keir Starmer drinking a beer after campaigning in Durham April 2021
Sir Keir wants to get Labour ready for the next election – but this picture may yet seal his fate

The Holborn and St Pancras MP reaffirmed his intention to quit if he is fined and has reportedly made arrangements behind the scenes to ensure an orderly leadership contest if it does happen.

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised the reported content of the speech before it was delivered in full.

He said: ‘I think all that Sir Keir is going to be saying later on today is that he wants to do what the Conservatives are doing but half-cock, so it’s not much of an announcement by him today.’

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