‘We are not rejoining the EU’: Starmer shuts down Badenoch’s claim Labour want to ‘reverse Brexit’

22 June 2024, 14:59

Sir Keir Starmer, (L), and Kemi Badenoch
Sir Keir Starmer, (L), and Kemi Badenoch. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted a Labour government would not take the UK back into the EU after Kemi Badenoch claimed the party wanted to "reverse Brexit".

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Writing in The Telegraph, the Business Secretary said Brexit was a "20-year project" and that its benefits would "disappear" if Labour win on July 4.

Badenoch, who has leadership ambitions should the Tories lose the election, accused Labour of "taking us back to square one".

But speaking today, Sir Keir Starmer firmly denied he had any plans to take Britain back into the UK, while also ruling out a return to the single market or customs union.

Asked if he would ever reconsider this, Sir Keir added: "No. It isn't our plan, it never has been, I've never said that as leader of the Labour Party and it is not in our manifesto."

Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

The Labour leader did say he wanted a better trade relationship with the EU and "much more collaboration" on research and development, education, security, and other areas, adding that it was all subject to negotiation.

"But I do think we can get a better deal with the EU, and if we are elected to government that is what we will endeavour to do," he said.

Asked by the PA news agency about support for rejoining the EU among young people who did not get to vote in the referendum, Sir Keir said it was the "nature" of a one-off referendum that only the electorate at the time were able to take part.

Read More: Keir Starmer will 'reverse Brexit' if Labour wins election, Kemi Badenoch warns

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He added: "I would also say this, I voted to remain. I campaigned to remain.

"But what that referendum did was to throw politics into turmoil for three years, between 2016 to 2019 our Parliament couldn't get anything done.

"It caused huge uncertainty and I don't think returning to that kind of division and uncertainty is actually going to help us rebuild our economy, rebuild our country, grow the wealth and create the wealth that we need, or the secure jobs of the future."

The Brexit referendum took place eight years ago on June 23, 2016.

Speaking to the Telegraph Ms Badenoch countered criticism of the progress made on leaving the EU since then.

She said: "This is a 10 or 20-year project. We've just started.

"It's like building a house and someone comes in and says 'oh, he's not done yet, he's failed'. Or you're cooking something and, five minutes later, 'it's not cooked yet, it's not working, let's stop'."

Kemi Badenoch wants to be Tory leader
Kemi Badenoch wants to be Tory leader. Picture: Getty

She claimed the Tories were trying to focus on a strategy of getting benefits from Brexit, adding: "That's something that's going to disappear if Labour come in, they will take us backwards.

"They will take us back to square one. They're just going to copy the EU."

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