Labour to demand Brexit roadmap
A woman burns an EU flag | Leon Neal/Getty Images
LONDON — The U.K. Labour Party will fight Theresa May’s bid to trigger Article 50 early next year unless the government produces a “meaningful” Brexit plan for MPs to study beforehand.
In a set piece speech in central London, Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer will warn the prime minister he will not give her a “blank check” to take Britain out of the European Union.
According to extracts released ahead of the speech, Starmer will warn that unless the government produces a detailed plan for Britain’s future relationship with Brussels he will seek to amend any bill brought forward giving the government the authority to trigger Article 50 — the formal process for leaving the European Union.
He will claim Brexit is “the battle of our time” and will commit Labour to prioritizing access to the single market over any other concern.
Starmer’s intervention sets the stage for a showdown in the House of Commons next year, with pro-EU Conservative MPs forced to choose between their support for close ties with Brussels and loyalty to the government.
The Labour MP will say: “As we stand on the brink of profound change, it is clear that there are two versions of our future that could be negotiated.
“The first is a future that tears us apart from our EU partners. Out of the single market. Out of the customs union. Reverting to World Trade Organization rules which would entail a range of harmful new barriers to trade and a desperate rush to sign new agreements with third party states to compensate.
“A global race to the bottom which would not only put our economy and jobs at risk, but which would also abandon our shared scientific, educational and cultural endeavours with the EU. So-called hard Brexit.
“The second version of our future is a version where we exit the EU but build a new and strong relationship with our EU partners based on the principles of co-operation, collaboration and mutual benefit. A future which preserves our ability to trade in goods and services with our biggest market. A future that values joint scientific, educational and cultural work with our EU partners. A future which allows the U.K. to retain its leading position in the world, influencing and contributing to developments across Europe and beyond.
“The battle between these two versions of our future is the battle of our times. It will be fought out over the next few years. The opposition needs to be in that battle. Labour needs to be in that battle. If we are not, the chance to shape the future of our country will be lost. Future generations will not forgive us for such a dereliction of duty.”