Brexit deal is broken – here are five reasons Starmer must not renegotiate it

Andrea Leadsom says Brexit ‘apologists’ MPS should leave PPA

Over the next few months running up to next year’s election, you will hear the same words trotted out by Sir Keir Starmer and Labour frontbenchers – “make Brexit work”.

They will try to persuade you that this renegotiation of the Brexit deal – because we now know that is what it will be – is simply aimed at making things smoother, even cementing the Brexit agreement and Britain’s place outside the EU.

But we should not believe Starmer or Labour MPs, almost all of whom were Remainers in the long fight after the historic Brexit referendum.

Just at the reshuffle, revealed how Starmer was packing his Shadow Cabinet for the election with Rejoiners with 16 of the People’s Vote Second Referendum campaigners in key positions including himself, policy chief Pat McFadden and Foreign Secretary David Lammy.

READ MORE: Labour reshuffle has revealed that Brexit is not safe with Keir Starmer

The idea that the Brexit deals need renegotiating as a basic premise is one that many of the hardline Brexiteers would agree with Conservative MPs, Reform UK and Nigel Farage.

Boris said he got Brexit done, but he didn’t really completely seal the deal and Rishi Sunak has arguably made things worse with the Windsor Framework Northern Ireland agreement.

Whether it is rules against British pets, the EU’s land grab in Northern Ireland, actually getting out of the Horizon program which hands over our scientific research, sorting out the fishing quotas and extracting ourselves from defence deals there is still much to do.

But that’s not Starmer’s plan. Here are five things to look out for if Labour can renegotiate Brexit.

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1. Handing control of borders to the EU again

He denied it at the weekend but Starmer has already revealed step one in his renegotiation and reversing Brexit and it is centred around the issue of illegal migrants and stopping the small boats.

Little did Nigel Farage perhaps realise he was handing Starmer an excuse to take the UK back under Brussels control when he started to first highlight the small boats crisis.

But now it seems Starmer would take us back into the “returns agreement” which in practice means the UK is likely to get an extra 100,000 illegal migrants dumped on us by the EU.

Why? Well, the key point is that officials in Brussels would be deciding who comes and goes and who Britain has to take. The precise opposite of taking back control of our borders.

But don’t be surprised as well if a form of free movement for work is gradually reintroduced on the pretext of trade with the EU.

2. Let the French continue catching British fish

Fishing quotas have been a difficult issue.

Basically, the EU did not want to give up the right of French, Spanish, Danish and other European fleets plundering UK waters for our fish.

Strangely enough, they never seemed keen on the idea of giving Britain a share in French vineyards and Italian olive groves.

Boris Johnson and Lord Frost were criticised by many Brexiteers for agreeing on a slowly declining level of quotas that EU fleets could fish in British waters rather than banning them straight off.

But the point was that after five years the EU fleet would no longer have the right to fish in UK waters.

This is one to look out for because Brexiteers pointed out that Michel Barnier left the possibility of a renegotiation in this area on the table.

Starmer may well be tempted to agree permanent rights for closer market integration on the false terms of “making Brexit work”.

3. The slow march to an EU army

It is not spoken about enough but the threat of Britain getting tied into an EU army is still very high.

The fact is that the Conservatives have not done much to allay these fears in government and this would be an easy avenue for Starmer to go further for more cooperation.

Already we are in the PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) for moving military across the EU and British defence officials who are keen on an EU army have left the door open for more.

Macron and Ursula von der Leyen have both been pushing for an EU military force as a means of allegedly saving money but are more likely to ensure the bloc is kept together and sovereign nations lose one of the most crucial powers of self-defence.

Starmer may well try to save this as a practical money-saving activity with allies. He would point to the military cooperation already set up by the Conservative government with the French (Europe’s other major military power).

Added to that the Democrats in the US are quite keen on an EU army and in fact would dearly love Britain back in the bloc in one form or another.

But readers should note the P in PESCO is “permanent”, there would be no way out.

4. Harmony of tax and regulations

This is the nub of the issue.

“Make Brexit work”, as Labour Rejoiners put it will be about closer trading ties with the EU again – even though Boris Johnson’s deal is certainly good enough.

They will use the support of pro-EU corporate interest groups like the CBI, Save British Farming or Best for Britain to push for the UK to essentially just follow EU rules, regulations and taxes.

Instead of the bonfire of red tape (which the Tories have failed to deliver), there will be even more.

Our taxes will follow those in the EU and we may even end up paying VAT receipts to Brussels for various services.

Unfortunately, Starmer will be able to build on the Windsor Framework that Rishi Sunak agreed for Northern Ireland which, according to Brexiteers, contains a number of poison pills to control UK tax and regulation.

All this will be a softening up for a second-term return to the Single Market and Customs Union which would then make an eventual return to the EU inevitable.

5. Would Gibraltar be safe?

The question is how far would Starmer go?

Currently, there are elections going on in Gibraltar and while they fiercely wish to remain a British protectorate there is a desire to maintain free movement in the EU.

Spain continues to push hard for control over the Rock and it is inconceivable that for some minor concessions, a Labour government would not surrender some control.

A shared arrangement with Spain could easily become possible and certainly concerns those in the UK who deal with Gibraltar.

To be fair Labour has said nothing on this issue to suggest they are prepared to surrender in this area yet, but it is well within the bounds of possibility.

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