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Published: Mon, August 28, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Labour's Brexit policy shifts towards transitional deal

Labour's Brexit policy shifts towards transitional deal

"Labour's position on Brexit is unequivocal - we are leaving the European Union as mandated by the people and that is what the majority of voters in Hartlepool want to see happening".

The move - which positions Labour firmly as the party of soft Brexit - in effect means it wants minimal change in the years immediately after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer argues for a transitional period within the EU customs union and single market.

Remaining in the single market under current rules would force the United Kingdom to continue to follow the EU's freedom of movement laws, to pay substantial sums into the block's budget and to accept the judgement of the European Court of Justice on matters of trade and economics.

"Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we now enjoy with the EU", Keir Starmer, the party's Brexit spokesman, wrote in The Observer newspaper on Sunday.

The party's shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has also not ruled out negotiating the possibility of a new single market and customs arrangement on a permanent basis.

Mr. Starmer added that Labour would leave open the option of Britain remaining a member of the EU customs union and single market for good, though any such deal would have to give Britain more control over immigration.

The parliamentary arithmetic of Brexit is complicated by the presence of a small rump of diehard Brexiteers on the Labour benches and a larger group of Conservatives who favour a soft Brexit.

The clarification of position by the opposition piles pressure on British Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis, ahead of the resumption of talks in Brussels on Monday. He said that trying to thrash out such a deal with the European Union would take up valuable negotiating time that should be devoted to getting a good long-term settlement. "This is challenging enough without having to negotiate separate transitional arrangements at the same time".

The dramatic shift separates the Labour party from ministers - who have accepted the need for a transition period, but have yet to agree on how long that would be, or whether we would stay in the single market.

The shift in Labour's policy comes as Britain prepares for another round of negotiations in Brussels today, which European Union officials have signalled are unlikely to yield much progress.

The government has also called for a transition period to help business adjust after Brexit. "It can not become a kind of never-ending purgatory". "Anything else will be bad news for our economy, jobs, public services and social justice".

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