Keir Starmer has ruled out bringing back the free movement of people between Britain and the EU, saying it would be a ‘red line’ for Labor if it comes to power – despite its support for the policy there barely three years.
The Labor leader said free movement ‘won’t return’ if he becomes prime minister because Brexit has already happened and ‘ripping up’ the deal would lead to years of further wrangling with Brussels.
However, his decision to rule out a return to open borders with other European states if Labor enters government will disappoint some members of his own party who believe EU immigration should be welcomed as an advantage cultural and economic.
Starmer also ruled out a ‘Swiss-style’ deal with the EU, which would allow access to the single market but require more generous immigration rules, after reports the government was considering such an arrangement prompted denials. frantic from No. 10.
He told the Mail on Sunday: ‘A Swiss deal just wouldn’t work for Britain. We will have a stronger trading relationship and cut red tape for UK businesses – but freedom of movement is a red line for me. It was part of the deal to be in the EU, but since we left I have been clear that it will not come back under my government.
He added: ‘Tearing up the Brexit deal would lead to years of further wrangling and wrangling as we face the future.
However, in January 2020, as he stood to become the Labor leader, Starmer indicated he would bring back free movement if he reached No 10, saying: ‘I want families to be able to live together, whether in Europe or here… We must advocate for freedom of movement.
His spokesman said last week: “He said he would support freedom of movement while negotiations continue. It is clear that we have now left the EU, so that issue is resolved.
Lisa Nandy, the shadow upgrade secretary, claimed Labor had not changed its position as it had always argued freedom of movement could only work if aligned with investment in skills and opportunities for young people in Britain.
She told Sky News on Sunday: “I see no way to do it. It’s the plain truth. I was Shadow Foreign Secretary for two years and the European Union had no desire to reopen negotiations with the United Kingdom.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of appetite in this country either. We have been divided among ourselves for almost a decade now on a whole succession of issues and this country must move forward.
Nandy called for a “reasonable” approach to immigration that would invest in young people in Britain “first and foremost” to address labor shortages, while acknowledging that immigration had a ” significant contribution” to make if there were short-term gaps in the market.
“We need a serious plan to address our labor shortages and invest in young people here in Britain, not these junk policies that crumble as soon as they’re announced,” he said. -she adds.