‘We are going forwards’: Starmer rules out rejoining EU ahead of launching Brexit plan


Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out rejoining the European Union, as he said the UK needs to go forwards and divisions cannot be reopened.

The Labour leader told Sky News’ Beth Rigby: “We’re not going back to the EU, to the single market, to the customs union or freedom of movement.

“We are going forwards not backwards, not reopening those divisions.

“I don’t think reopening all the old wounds and going backwards is going to help us on that mission to drive the economy.”

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Sir Keir was speaking ahead of launching a five-point plan to deal with Brexit on Monday evening.

He said the plan will “remove some of the barriers” to trading with the EU that are “holding us back”.

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The current Brexit deal is “not a good deal”, he said, adding that it is causing problems in Northern Ireland and the agreements on services and security are not good enough.

“This is a forward-looking plan, it’s not a plan to go back, it’s not a plan to rejoin the EU,” he insisted.

Looking ahead to the next general election, which is supposed to be in 2024, he added: “This will be the driving mission of an incoming Labour government – to grow the economy.”

Sir Keir said he did not regret campaigning for a second Brexit referendum, something that is credited with helping Labour to lose the last election.

“We made our policy in the circumstances that were then the live circumstances, but we’ve left the EU now and the government has said we need to get Brexit done, but it hasn’t really got a plan to do that,” he added.

“I want to make Brexit work.”

He said he is “absolutely convinced” there are “practical ways” to solve the current issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol – which has effectively placed a border in the Irish Sea.

Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and how does it work?

Sir Keir also said the Conservatives are on a “downwards spiral, and we are coming up” – and said recent Labour by-election wins “show we’re on track for a Labour government”.

He said he could not sympathise with Boris Johnson appointing MP Chris Pincher as deputy chief whip when he knew there were rumours about his conduct.

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Mr Pincher quit the government last week after admitting he got drunk and following allegations he groped two men, including another MP.

Sir Keir said: “It’s bad judgement by the PM, a man who puts himself above everyone else, and no I’m afraid I don’t have any sympathy for him.”

Asked if he would have appointed Mr Pincher if he had been PM, Sir Keir said: “No, I wouldn’t.”

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