Sir Keir: ‘The principles and values of EU are at the heart of Labour’

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at Labour Party conference. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer at Labour Party conference. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has criticised Barry Gardiner for his comments where he claimed Labour is 'not a Remain party.'

Asked by BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the comments, he said: 'I'm not quite sure what that means.'

He continued: 'Labour campaigned very hard for Remain, the principles and values of the EU are something we have embraced for decades and they go to the heart of the Labour Party, and I am sure we will embrace them for a long time in the future.'

He again stressed that Labour would oppose the Withdrawal Agreement, arguing it was asking MPs to back a 'blind' Brexit with no assurances about the future relationship with Brussels.

He added: 'Not only is uncoupling the Political Declaration making Brexit more blind because you don't know where you are going, now the prime minister has said she is stepping down.

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'So, the Political Declaration, the future relationship, is going now to be determined in a Tory leadership exercise. Even if this prime minister gave us assurances about what she's going to do in the future, they don't mean anything any more.'

Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner sparked an angry response after he said earlier in the week Labour would not support a motion calling for a confirmatory referendum on any deal - something that was overruled within hours by the party whips.

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He said: 'The Labour Party is not a Remain party now. We have accepted the result of the referendum.'

Gardiner's comments had some support from others on Labour's front bench, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

McDonnell said: 'We had to accept in our manifesto respect for the referendum result. We campaigned for Remain, we lost, we have to accept that.

'We have to be honest with people. If there was another referendum now I personally would vote for Remain because I think that is best for the country.

'What he is saying is exactly in line with party policy. We have got to prevent a new deal, prevent a bad deal, advocate for our own policy, try to get a general election if we can, but failing that, if there is a logjam, yes we will if necessary go back to the people.'

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