While all the attention is on Boris Johnson and the question of whether or not he will survive the week as Prime Minister, the opposition leader Keir Starmer, has been trying to lay out his plan for “making Brexit work”. From a man who has spent his entire Parliamentary career trying to stay IN the European Union, this is quite a turnaround.
But what he has laid out is not a plan as such, but a series of objectives. Starmer wants smoother trade with the EU and also less friction and division between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. All very noble, but then says he wants to preserve the maximum amount of freedom to set UK product standards, rather than shadow EU ones as is happening now.
Even the plan to shadow EU regulations has its issues, with EU officials making things as awkward as possible by insisting that they cannot be sure proper checks are being carried out on UK products.
Starmer’s plan can only work if EU leaders suddenly become more flexible than they have been in the past. As David Cameron found out to his cost, there is not much “wriggle room” when it comes to negotiating with a bloc that prefers to dictate rather than discuss. Sit Keir is, to be honest, guilty of wistful thinking in an attempt to win back former “Red Wall” seats.
The whole situation makes it hard to argue a case for a “soft” Brexit anymore. It is simply one way or the other and with both major parties insisting that rejoining is not an option, it would seem that going ahead and forging new trading relationships with the rest of the world is paramount. For all Liz Truss’ efforts, most of the agreements she put in place were continuations of the previous agreement as part of the EU.
What is needed is more progress in forging new trading alliances, rather than perpetuating old ones. That will not happen whilst the Conservative Party is caught navel gazing and splitting itself asunder over their highly controversial leader.
Martin Day – Party Secretary