Sir Keir: Our first decision in power would guarantee the rights of EU citizens

PUBLISHED: 08:52 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:11 28 September 2018

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer talks to breakfast television. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer talks to breakfast television. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

One of Labour’s first moves would be to guarantee the rights of 3 million EU citizens if it was elected to government, Sir Keir Starmer has told The New European.

The shadow Brexit secretary was speaking to the newspaper’s podcast host Richard Porritt.

“The first thing we would do is unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens. The 3 million people have been through the anxiety and agony of not knowing their position. We would put them out of their anxious state and misery so they know what the position is.”

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He added: “We’d obviously immediately look at the priorities going forward from there, but I think the first thing is to deal with those EU citizens.”

Sir Keir said it was a “genuinely difficult question” over whether or not the transition period would be extended under a Labour government as it would depend on when a general election would be held. He suggested the timetable already was being extended due to the government’s inability to negotiate.

He explained: “At the moment it looks like the October deadline for the summit is going to be missed, it could be November, if November then becomes December because there’s a last minute attempt to try again then you’re looking at January or February for an election, if there is one. Then that will affect the timeframe.”

Starmer did not go as far as saying Labour would stop Brexit, but did say that the party’s negotiation approach would be very different to May’s government. The party is now committed to a People’s Vote as one of the options on the table.

He said: “We would completely rip up the plan and approach that this government has – in so far as it has got one. There’s no question of Labour adopting the approach of this government – we made this very clear in the masterplan. It would be very tight I accept that but let’s cross each bridge when we get there. If we are in that scenario that is the fault of the government – they are only in this position because they can’t agree.”

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He also said it was an “extraordinary situation” that Theresa May finds herself in, having to rely on the movements of the opposition because her own team are so split.

“In ordinary circumstances it wouldn’t matter what the opposition think because I’ve got my own team behind me, and if it comes to a vote, and we’ll outvote them. The deal will only fall if it goes to a vote and if her own party splits on it, and if her own party splits on it it’ll be an extraordinary situation to find herself in.”

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