James O'Brien: 'Starmer's Brexit plan can't include EU until Leave admits they're wrong'

4 July 2022, 15:26 | Updated: 4 July 2022, 15:34

By Fiona Jones

Sir Keir Starmer is set to outline Labour's plans later today to "make Brexit work", pledging to "end the Brexit divisions once and for all" - James O'Brien explains why it can never be a plan to rejoin the EU.

The Labour leader has ruled out rejoining the EU if he wins the next election, including vowing not to rejoin the single market, customs union or revisiting free movement agreements.

Sir Keir Starmer will commit to "sorting out the poor deal Boris Johnson signed" with a five-point plan, including resolving issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, of which the current Government wishes to override parts.

Read more: Why PM can't dump NI protocol: James O'Brien blown away by legal expert

James O'Brien however considers this stance inevitable, as rejoining the EU is "unsellable" to the British public until Leave ministers and Brexit-supporting media "admit they sold you a dud."

James said, "I think at some unspecified point in the future he will be able to turn to the British people and he will be able to say 'this is as good as Brexit gets'. Keir Starmer's calculation today is he can make it a bit better than it currently is."

However, James, was unsure of the Labour leader's ability to do this, despite his support of EU membership: "The European Union are not going to reward Keir Starmer, if he becomes Prime Minister, for not being Boris Johnson. There isn't an emotional legacy, I don't think, that we get to enjoy.

"The European Union will continue to treat us like a trading rival and a third country."

Despite some people calling for the Labour leader to instead outline a plan to rejoin the EU, or at least the single market and freedom of movement, James disagrees; instead, it would take the Brexit-supporting media to hold their hands up, "stop pretending it was a good idea" and say to the British people "'Sorry we flogged you an absolute dud'" .

Until that happens, he continued, rejoining the EU is "not going to be sellable to the British people.

"It's never going to happen until it becomes absolutely irrefutable, until you are having your face rubbed in the reality of it and the reality is 'as good as it gets'."

Speaking at the the Centre for European Reform on Monday evening, Sir Keir will say: "There are some who say, 'we don't need to make Brexit work, we need to reverse it', [but] I couldn't disagree more.

"Because you cannot move forward or grow the country or deliver change or win back the trust of those who have lost faith in politics if you're constantly focused on the arguments of the past.

"We cannot afford to look back over our shoulder. Because all the time we are doing that we are missing what is ahead of us."

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