Steven Swinford, Telegraph, April 25, 2017
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a new split over EU migrants after the shadow Brexit secretary vowed to end free movement and said his colleagues cannot “rub out” the result of the EU referendum.
Mr Corbyn, the labour leader, and senior members of his shadow cabinet have previously suggested they are in favour of the continued free movement of EU migrants after Britain leaves the European Union.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit Secretary, yesterday made clear free movement will come to an end if Labour wins the election and categorically ruled out holding a second referendum.
However he said Labour would prioritise the economy over cutting immigration. In a pointed message to his colleagues, he said: ” I am not prepared now for the Labour Party not to accept the result. The Labour party cannot spend all its time trying to rub out yesterday and not accept the result. We accept it, we respect it.”
He added: “We recognise that immigration rules will have to change as we exit the EU, but we do not believe that immigration should be the overarching priority.
“We do not believe that leaving the EU means severing our ties with Europe. We do not believe that Brexit means weakening workers’ rights and environmental protections or slashing corporate tax rates.”
His position is in stark contrast to Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, who said less than a fortnight ago that freedom of movement should be defended as a “workers’ right”.
David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said:
Jeremy Corbyn is too weak and floundering to get a good deal in the Brexit negotiations.
A divided Labour party, propped up by a Liberal Democrat SNP coalition of chaos, can’t even agree amongst themselves on Brexit. Putting this chaotic team in charge of negotiating with the EU would be a dangerous risk to Britain’s future.
The choice is clear – only a vote for the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May on June 8th will deliver a Brexit deal in Britain’s national interest.
Labour has also vowed to retain and “fully protect” all EU laws and red tape after Brexit, including keeping the controversial Charter of Fundamental Rights which has been heavily criticised for helping criminals avoid deportation.
Theresa May has vowed to axe the charter on the day Britain leaves the European Union amid concerns that “it provides protections for people who have no right to be protected.
Sir Keir yesterday said that Labour would retain the charter alongside thousands of other EU laws and regulations. Senior Conservatives want to use Brexit to axe unnecessary and burdensome red tape.
He said that under Labour “all EU-derived laws” will be “fully protected without qualifications, limitations or sunset clauses”.
He added that Labour would “go further” and adopt all new EU workplace regulations and environmental protections after Brexit.
Sir Keir also said that Labour would “unilaterally” guarantee the rights of EU migrants living in the UK on “day one”, despite concerns that it will put the rights of Britons living in the European Union at risk.
He said that he wants to give MPs the power to veto any Brexit deal and send negotiators “back to the table” but conceded there will have to be an “end point” at which Britain leaves the European Union.
Sir Keir is attempting to address criticism that it has no distinctive plan on Brexit and is going along with the Tory approach. Lord Mandelson, the architect of New Labour, was asked by Newsnight what he thought the party’s position on Brexit was. He laughed and replied: “Well search me.”