Socialist Worker

Labour’s Starmer says he will work with Tory ‘rebels’ over Brexit

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2577

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer (Pic: Wikimedia)


Labour will collaborate with Tory MPs in parliament over legislation about leaving the European Union (EU), shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said.

Writing for the Sunday Times newspaper, Starmer said Labour would work with the Tories to secure six changes to the EU withdrawal bill.

These involve giving MPs power to effectively veto leaving the EU and keeping Britain in the pro-business single market.

Yet disgracefully they do not include defending freedom of movement for European migrants or protecting the rights of EU nationals living in Britain.

Labour has to show it won’t block Brexit after the largely anti-establishment vote to leave the EU. But it also faces pressure to defend the EU and the single market.

Some Labour supporters are rightly horrified at the Tories’ racist and right wing vision for Brexit. But right wing EU backers also want Labour to show it can protect pro-business interests.

That pressure to act “responsibly” towards the EU will increase as Labour appears more likely to be elected to office.

At a meeting of European Labour-type parties in Brussels last Thursday Jeremy Corbyn called for “radical alternatives” to austerity.

Neoliberalism

But he also said Labour wanted Britain to retain access to the single market—a key plank of neoliberalism that enforces austerity and privatisation.

Corbyn met EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier that same day and said Labour would approach negotiations “in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect”.

Yet the EU would try to crush a left wing Labour government that wanted serious change.

Labour’s compromises have led it to defend some pro-market aspects of the EU.

At the same time Labour could dump the single market’s only positive aspect—the freedom for people to travel and migrate inside the EU.

Such compromises put Labour in a weaker position to challenge austerity and defend migrants if elected to government.

The alternative is to unite Labour’s Leave and Remain-backing supporters around an anti-racist, anti-austerity vision of Brexit.


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