Labour leader Keir Starmer has ruled out fighting the next general election on issues surrounding Europe, claiming he wants to focus on “Bitain in the 2030s” rather than the views of 2016.
In an interview with the Guardian, Starmer dismissed talk of campaigning on Europe in 2024 despite the Brexit deal giving a break clause which would allow the UK and EU to re-evaluate the agreement in five years’ time.
“I’m determined the next general election will be fought on our terms, not somebody else’s terms,” he said.
“We’ve left the EU and the remain/leave argument is over. Amongst the reasons for voting for the deal is to allow that closure. In our general election campaign in 2024, we will be a future-looking Labour party and a future Labour government, not one that looks behind us.”
He explained it was a “tough choice” but accepted any future Labour government would have to “make this deal work”.
He said: “We vote tomorrow in the mindset of the next general election in 2024. If we come into government in 2024 – and I hope we do – we will inherit this deal. The public in Britain would expect us to make this deal work.”
Starmer said it was unlikely Europe would feature on his election leaflets or be a central part of the manifesto, saying it would show Labour was “facing the wrong way”.
“It’s pretty unlikely. The focus will be on Britain and on Britain’s role in the world,” he said. “Will the renegotiation of the treaty be central to the manifesto? No.
“If we are still arguing in 2024 abut what has gone in these past four years, we’re facing the wrong way as far as I’m concerned.”
He said his party could make the case about improving the UK’s relationship “but there will not be an appetite for renegotiating the entire treaty.”