KEIR STARMER has been less vocal on the issue of Brexit in recent months despite having previously been an outspoken Remainer – but he did admit that he was aiming to thwart the Government’s negotiating strategy.
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In Brexit trade talks, the possibility of the UK and the EU failing to strike a deal looks increasingly likely as David Frost and Michel Barnier lock horns this week. The impasse comes as the EU demands access to UK fisheries after the transition period, with Mr Barnier saying the bloc will deny Britain access to European markets if the requirement isn’t met. There are also disagreements over regulatory alignment, as Brussels wants the UK to abide by a “level playing field”, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to free the country of laws made elsewhere.
Sir Keir Starmer – now Labour leader – was Shadow Brexit Secretary when he told The Times he would do anything to stop a no deal Brexit.
At the time, Theresa May was negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Sir Keir claimed the Prime Minister was “pretending to make progress while actually running the clock down” so that she could return to Parliament near the deadline and offer MPs a “binary choice” — her deal or no deal.
The Labour frontbencher said in February 2019: “We can’t allow that to happen.
“There needs to be a day when Parliament says that’s it, enough is enough.”
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Sir Keir described Mrs May’s approach as “reckless” and “blinkered” and blamed her “tunnel vision” for the devastating defeat suffered by the Prime Minister in January 2019 after MPs threw out her Brexit deal by a record 230 votes.
But he also claimed rather than learn her lesson, Mrs May was allowing Parliament to “tread water” because she had nothing that MPs would vote through parliament.
He continued: “It’s this blinkered approach that’s got us to where we are, with her never wanting to see where the real majority is in Parliament.”
The week before this interview, then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn made an offer to Mrs May in a letter setting out five demands for Labour to give its support to the Government to achieve a “sensible” Brexit.
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These included a permanent customs union, which Mr Corbyn argued would avoid a hard border, and close alignment with the EU single market.
Sir Keir said of the proposal: “This is the only combination I genuinely believe can deliver no hard border in Northern Ireland.”
Sir Keir has been less vocal in recent months on the subject of Brexit, and his LBC interview this month may suggest he has given up fighting the Government.
He said: “On the question of the EU, it’s no secret that I voted Remain and campaigned for Remain.
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“But we have left the EU and therefore it is very important for me to say that the Leave-Remain divide is over. It is gone.
“The argument now is about what the future relationship with the EU should look like and relationships and deals with the rest of the world.
“But we argued over Leave-Remain for three and a half years.
“It’s over. We have left.”