Keir Starmer has abandoned the commitment to free movement of people in the European Union he made to Labor members during the party leadership race.
The Labor leader said his party needs to be honest with the public and that if he wins the next general election, a major renegotiation of the Brexit Treaty would not be possible.
The deal, which was finalized on Christmas Eve, confirmed an end to the free movement of Britons and EU nationals in the respective countries, as it kept the UK out of the single market, like the Tories had promised in their 2019 election manifesto.
In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Starmer was reminded that when he ran for Labor leadership after the party’s electoral defeat, he said, as one of 10 pledges, that he “Would defend free movement when leaving the EU”.
Marr also pointed out that in January 2019, when specifically asked if he would bring the free movement of EU citizens back to the UK, he replied: “Yes of course, bring back, plead for, challenge . »
Starmer, however, told Marr he was ruling out the kind of deep Brexit Treaty renegotiation that would be needed to restore free movement.
“I don’t think there is room for a major renegotiation. We have just had four years of negotiations. We have arrived at a treaty and now we have to make this treaty work, ”he said.
He said there are aspects of the treaty that could be improved, including how it covered the creative industries and what it did for the service sector, which he said had been largely left out.
When told it would disappoint Labor members who voted for him because of his commitment to free movement, Starmer said it was unrealistic to claim the EU would want to negotiate a new one. Brexit treaty with the United Kingdom.
“Whether we like it or not, this will be the treaty that a new Labor government will inherit and have to do work. And it is not up front with the British public to say that we can take office in 2024 and apply another treaty, ”he said.
Free movement became an issue in the leadership campaign after the party conference backed the principle in the fall of 2019. The commitment was tied to defending migrants’ rights in general, but it contradicts previous comments party saying free movement would end if the UK left the EU.
Asked by Marr if he thought public debt, at around 100% of GDP, was at a dangerous level, Starmer said, “We’re going to have to re-evaluate the debt.” However, he will not say how until he knows the state of the economy at the time of the next election.
He declined to pledge to renew Labor’s 2019 commitment to free broadband in the upcoming election manifesto, although he said more should be done to improve broadband access for disadvantaged students. and their families.
Starmer also said he was not in favor of another referendum on Scottish independence now, but believed Boris Johnson was wrong to exclude one for 40 years.
He also said the status quo regarding Scotland was not working, which is why he said Labor was in favor of a constitutional commission.