Starmer Abandons Labour’s Manifesto Pledge to End Free Movement

Keir Starmer has softened Labour’s Brexit position again, telling Newsnight last night that Labour now backed both a customs union and “single market alignment”. He initially says he “doesn’t see it” as taking Corbyn “on a journey” towards ‘Norway Plus’, before going on to say that the UK would “have to consider” allowing the free movement of workers under a Norway Plus plan. A big departure from Labour’s manifesto which explicitly states “Freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union”…

Whether Starmer can really get the Labour party to “move together” on this latest evolution of their position is another matter. As far back as last June when Labour rebel numbers were normally limited to a handful of three or four, 15 Labour MPs defied the Labour whip (to abstain) in order to vote directly against single market membership. That number would be far higher today with many Northern Labour MPs terrified of losing their seats. As usual it looks like Starmer taking Labour on a journey to nowhere…

Starmer: Any Deal Requires A Backstop

Keir Starmer: Labour Brexit Policy in ‘New Phase’

Labour Voters Unenthusiastic About Leadership Contenders

Labour’s leadership hopefuls have some work to do if they want to establish themselves as successors to Corbyn among the Labour faithful. Polling by the ESRC Party Members Project somewhat surprisingly found Keir Starmer to be the slight favourite among Labour members with 18% support, ahead of John McDonnell on 15% and Emily Thornberry on 12%.

Starmer is hardly the obvious Corbynista choice but with Brexit in the spotlight Starmer’s Remain tendencies are more in tune with the Labour membership than the euroscepticism of the old left. Still a far cry from Boris’s regular double-digit leads among Tory members…

Among Labour voters as a whole, not a single contender breaks into double digits, with “don’t know” polling at a hefty 56%. Starmer is again the best of the bunch on 9% with McDonnell trailing on 5%. Thornberry and Chuka are tied on 3%. Self-promoting Sadiq doesn’t even get a look in – only 1% of Labour members back him and less than 1% of Labour voters at large…

Labour All At Sea Over Brexit

Labour are all at sea over Brexit again, with Keir Starmer directly contracting his party leader’s comments on whether Brexit can be stopped. Starmer told Sky News this morning “Brexit can be stopped” just days after Corbyn categorically told Der Spiegel on Friday that Labour “can’t stop” Brexit:

DS: “If you could stop Brexit, would you?”

JC: “We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave.”

Emily Thornberry and Dianne Abbott have also given conflicting signals in recent days, with Thornberry telling Marr yesterday a second referendum was still an option, while Abbott warned against the idea on Question Time last week. Civil war in North London luvvie land…

Labour’s position on the deal itself is no less unclear, with shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman making distinctly positive noises about the possibility of Labour supporting a deal on All Out Politics despite Thornberry coming down strongly against the prospect yesterday. Labour’s “constructive ambiguity” is increasingly looking less like astute party management and more a symptom of serious internal shadow Cabinet splits…

The Government’s fundamental problem with getting a deal through Parliament – if it even gets through Cabinet – is that voting down the deal is all things to all people. The Labour frontbench sees it as the best route to a general election. Brexiteers see it as the way to force ‘no deal’. Remainers see it as their best chance of securing a second referendum. The Johnson-Johnson pincer movement looks particularly dangerous for the Government. But ultimately only one of these groups can actually get what they want…

Starmer Won’t Rule Out Remain

Keir Starmer makes the point of again not ruling out Remain if there’s a second referendum. Labour continuing their Brexit policy of being all things to all people…

Starmer’s Off-Script Remain Pitch Thrills Labour Conference

Sir Keir Starmer achieved the biggest cheers of Labour Conference so far for his endorsement of a second referendum on EU membership. The speech could have come straight from the 2016 referendum campaign – Starmer waxed lyrical about the benefits of EU membership while saying he was “devastated” by the outcome of the referendum. Dennis Skinner was not impressed…

Starmer’s “nobody is ruling out remain as an option” line was not in the pre-briefed version of his speech. This appears to be a deliberate move to ramp up the pressure on McDonnell and Corbyn ahead of the vote today. So much for the Labour “unity” he was talking about this morning…

Comical Keir: Labour ‘United on Brexit’

Sir Keir Starmer was doing his best impression of Comical Ali on Today this morning as he tried to deny the gaping chasms within the Labour Party over Brexit.

First he suggested that John McDonnell had only ruled out Remain being an option in a second referendum yesterday because he hadn’t had enough sleep:

KS: We finished our meeting about one in the morning and then John was up early doing the media round. I think John, to be fair…

NR: He was struggling with not enough sleep?

KS: No, no, to be fair, John did a number of interviews yesterday…

Starmer tried to move things on to Labour’s upcoming vote on a Brexit motion today, claiming that there was going to be “unity” behind it. In reality the Labour Party rank and file are confused, Guido suspects this confusion is a deliberate continuation of the strategic ambiguity on Brexit that is the party’s only consistent policy…

UPDATE: Starmer has refused to confirm that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th next year under Labour, telling TalkRadio’s Ross Kempsell that Labour could extend Article 50 depending on the circumstances. How is this piece of constructive ambiguity going to go down with Labour’s Brexit voters?

 

UPDATE II: The Tories are keen to point out that Keir Starmer previously said the official position was ‘There’s no dispute that Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019. Labour voted to trigger Article 50 and we did so knowing that we would leave the EU within two years’

McDonnell and Starmer at War Over Second Referendum

John McDonnell seemingly offered a rare shred of clarity on Labour’s Brexit position this morning when he appeared to rule out the possibility of Labour supporting a second referendum with Remain as an option. He told Today and Good Morning Britain that Labour accepted the result of the first referendum and a “People’s Vote” would be on whether to accept the deal or not.

This clarity was short-lived as Keir Starmer publicly slapped down McDonnell this afternoon, insisting that “we weren’t ruling out options, and nobody was ruling out Remain”The two positions are not fudged. They are irreconcilable…

Starmer Challenged By His CLP on Anti-Semitism Definition

Keir Starmer has been challenged by his local Constituency Labour Party after he called on the NEC to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. On Marr two weeks back, Starmer broke from the rest of the Labour leadership and criticised the Labour Party’s failure to adopt the full definition with examples. He said:

“Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition. I think that’s the right position to be in. I would urge everybody within the Labour party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition – I think it’s really important – including the examples.”

His local party do not agree. They have tabled a motion at a meeting today welcoming the NEC definition opposed by their own MP:

A direct test of Starmer’s authority in his own constituency…

Starmer Condemns Labour’s New Anti-Semitism Policy

Starmer: DD Has Threatened to Resign More Times Than He’s Met Barnier

Banter at Dexeu questions. Those five times Davis has threatened to resign here

Hypocrisy of Chuka and Labour’s EEA Rebels

Remoaner Labour MPs led by Chuka Umunna are rebelling against the leadership with a doomed amendment this afternoon attempting to keep us in the EEA. This is what Chuka used to say about the EEA model during the referendum: it “pays into the EU budget, accepts free movement, must obey EU laws with no say” and “would hurt the UK”.

Even by his standards, it is the height of hypocrisy for Chuka and co to now be backing EEA membership.

Bercow Worked With Labour on Humble Address

Labour’s latest Brexit hypocrisy comes in the form of their attempt to force the government to reveal its negotiating hand in the Commons tonight. Back in 2016, Keir Starmer promised he would never seek to compel the government to disclose confidential Brexit papers:

“I fully accept that the Government will enter into confidential negotiations for a number of months and that producing a plan should not undermine that process. This is not the first time that I have said that; I have said it repeatedly…. I do… accept that there is a level of detail and of confidential issues and tactics that should not be disclosed, and I have never said otherwise”

Seems he has changed his mind.

Tory MPs and ministers are livid with John Bercow’s role in Labour’s Brexit games. A senior Whitehall source says it was Bercow who first told Starmer about the possibility of using a humble address motion (an arcane parliamentary procedure explained here) to force the government to reveal the papers: “It wouldn’t be happening without him“. Tory MPs are asking why the impartial Commons Speaker, who had a “Bollocks to Brexit” sticker in his car and publicly backed Remain, has been actively coming up with ideas to help Labour’s attempts to undermine Brexit. Bercow’s behaviour on this is riling Tory MPs as much as any of the other revelations about the Speaker over the last few weeks…

Starmer Joins Orchestrated Remainer Attempt to Keep Us in Single Market

Back in March, Guido revealed the existence of a draft press release that showed Keir Starmer was working with Brussels to change Labour’s policy to staying in a customs union. It would now appear that he is doing the same on the single market. On Marr yesterday, Starmer called for us to have the exact same benefits of single market membership. He said: “We’ve been absolutely clear what the combination needs to be… we need to make sure it’s the combination, customs union and single market”. Today, he is in Brussels to talk to the EU about “retaining benefits of single market“.

It would appear that, as he did with a customs union, Starmer is attempting to shift Labour’s policy towards single market membership.

It is inconceivable that this is not being coordinated with other Remainers. In the pro-Remain Mail on Sunday yesterday, David Miliband, Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg called for ‘hard Brexit’ to be prevented. (Remainers, ever trying to move the dial back, are now defining ‘hard Brexit’ as leaving the single market.) On the Today programme this morning, Miliband explicitly called for us to retain single market membership. Norway has this morning u-turned on its reticence to the UK joining the EEA. Anna Soubry has a letter in today’s Times calling for the “softest of Brexit landings”. This all the week after the Lords voted to stay in the single market.

Remainers pushing for “the exact same benefits” of single market membership are being deeply dishonest. It would mean accepting free movement. It would mean being a rule-taker. It would mean ECJ oversight. It would mean paying vast sums to Brussels forever. It would not mean taking back control. Miliband, Morgan, Clegg and Soubry should be honest enough to admit that they are trying to defy the referendum result. Starmer needs to come clean: his call to keep the exact same benefits of the single market is no different…

Shadow Brexit Secretary Can’t Think of One Good Thing About Brexit

Labour not learning the lessons from the local election results…

Keir Concedes We’re Leaving

Keir Starmer says…

“Article 50 was triggered a year ago. I don’t think there is any realistic prospect of it being revoked. Therefore we will be leaving the EU in March 2019.”

Starmer: Labour Would Waste £120 Million Making Blue Passports in Britain

Keir Starmer flaunting his protectionist credentials this morning by stating Labour’s opposition to the blue passports deal. Starmer said they should be manufactured by a British company at an extortionate cost to the taxpayer. As Guido reported, savings on the Franco-Dutch arrangement will be £120 million over five years – not to mention the free benefit of awkwardness for remainers as the contract rather dispels the ‘inward-looking nation’ myth they constantly parrot. Labour would rather the money went to an uncompetitively expensive firm instead of on, say, public services…

‘Europhile’ Starmer said:

“To put it to a French company is the wrong thing to have done.”

Remainers jumping the shark again…

Draft Starmer Press Release That Shows Labour Working With Brussels

Guido can reveal the existence of a draft Keir Starmer press release that shows Labour has been working with Brussels on Brexit policy. The draft press release, which was written after Corbyn’s speech last week, would have boasted how Labour had “secured EU backing” for their customs union proposal. The statement would have said “it is understood” that the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group was set to “adapt its resolution to reflect the wording of Jeremy Corbyn’s customs union policy”. The press release was never sent but it has been leaked to Guido…

Labour secure EU backing for customs union proposal

Brussels officials have given their backing to Labour’s proposal for a new UK-EU comprehensive customs union.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit spokesperson, visited Brussels this week following Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Coventry in Monday.

On Wednesday, Michel Barnier told journalists Corbyn’s proposal to keep UK in a customs union “offers a significant part of the solution for Ireland.”

Later this month the European Parliament is expected to adopt a resolution setting out its demands for the next phase of Brexit negotiations.

It is understood that following the Labour’s leader’s speech the Brexit Steering Group will adapt its resolution to reflect the wording of Jeremy Corbyn’s customs union policy – particularly proposals for a “comprehensive” customs union.

The backing of Corbyn’s Brexit stance from the EU Commission and Parliament will heap pressure on the Prime Minister to provide a credible solution to the border in Northern Ireland.

Why was Labour so keen to “secure EU backing” for their customs union policy? How and when did they secure this backing? How was it “understood” that the European Parliament was set to back their policy? Why was the press release never sent? Was it ditched after media speculation about Labour colluding with the EU? This appears to be evidence that Labour has been working with Brussels to undermine the UK negotiating position…

Labour Accused of Colluding With Barnier

Fascinating tweets from two senior Times journalists today accusing Labour of “cooperating” with Michel Barnier to weaken Britain’s negotiating position and promote the EU plan to annex Northern Ireland. Brussels correspondent Bruno Waterfield says the timing of Corbyn’s speech to coincide with Barnier’s draft text is “no accident” and that Labour and the EU are working “in tandem”.[…] Read the rest

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