Starmer warns PM to expect a fight over Hard Brexit

PUBLISHED: 08:12 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 08:17 14 December 2016

PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Sir Keir Starmer has issued a Brexit battle cry warning the government they face a scrap in the Commons over leaving the EU

In a major speech setting out Starmer’s push to refocus Labour’s Brexit efforts he also told the PM he would not allow Theresa May to be handed a “blank cheque” to trigger Article 50.

He added that if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling that MPs must be given a say before the Prime Minister can formally start the Brexit process Labour will seek to amend the legislation unless May produces a “meaningful plan”.

In the speech, delivered at Bloomberg in the City, the shadow Brexit secretary vowed to fight any Hard Brexit strategy that “tears us apart from our EU partners”, instead backing an approach to build a “new and strong relationship” with the other 27 countries.

Starmer used his speech to set out his goal of making jobs, the economy and living standards Labour’s priority in the “battle of our time”.

He accused the PM of failing to unite a deeply split country, saying that instead of trying to “repair the breach” following the EU referendum she has “only had a message for one side of the divide”.

He also painted Hard Brexit as “a future that tears us apart from our EU partners”, outside the single market and customs union.

He called Hard Brexit, “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”.

He added: “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 UK to retain its leading position in the world, influencing and contributing to developments across Europe and beyond.”

Labour’s poor performance in the Richmond Park and Sleaford and North Hykeham by-elections has been blamed on the focus on Brexit, and Sir Keir will argue that the Opposition needs to fight on that key political battleground.”

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