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Starmer vows MPs could veto Brexit under Labour

PUBLISHED: 10:13 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 25 April 2017

Dominic Lipinski/PA

Dominic Lipinski/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

MPs would be given the chance to halt a Brexit deal secured by a Labour government, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has said.

But outlining Labour’s Brexit strategy Sir Keir again ruled out a second referendum.

He instead insisted that if Theresa May was ousted from Number 10 Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour would give MPs the chance to vote on any Brexit deal with negotiations continuing if the plans were vetoed.

He said it was vital to get the “best deal we can” and the Government had to be prepared to return to talks if what was on the table is rejected by Parliament.

Setting out Labour’s approach to Brexit, Sir Keir said the party would unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK, without waiting for a reciprocal commitment on the status of Britons on the continent.

And he condemned May’s “rigid” and “reckless” decision to rule out membership of the single market and customs union as part of any Brexit deal.

Asked if Labour’s position on a binding vote for Parliament could mean not leaving the EU at all, Sir Keir said: “We have to get the best deal we can.

“We are talking about the tail end of 2018, we would have a vote, we would go back to the negotiating table. That is the position that we want to adopt on a meaningful vote.”

Criticising May’s “out, out, out” approach on issues such as the single market, customs union and European Court of Justice, Sir Keir said: “She may be clear but she is rigid and she is reckless.”

The Prime Minister has said the UK “cannot possibly” remain part of the single market as it would mean “not leaving the EU at all”, while leaders across the bloc have warned that Britain cannot enjoy the benefits without agreeing to the rules, such as freedom of movement.

But saying that options should be kept open, Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want businesses to trade as successfully in the future as they have done in the past. That is not a wish list, it is an absolute imperative in these negotiations.

“We accept that unchanged single market membership is not a viable option, but we would want to leave the options on the table, to discuss with our European colleagues what the appetite is for change and revision and reform of some of the single market rules.

“I’m not pretending that’s going to be easy.”

Under Labour’s plans May’s flagship Bill to transfer relevant EU laws to Britain would be replaced with legislation that would protect employment and consumer rights as well as environmental protections when powers are repatriated.

Labour’s push to clarify its stance on the EU negotiations came as campaigners drew up a hit-list of Brexit-backing MPs they will try to oust at the June 8 General Election by flooding their seats with activists.

Key Leave supporters will be targeted in 20 constituencies, while support will be given to 20 MPs who have spoken out against a hard exit from the EU since the referendum.

Among the seats that pro-European groups Open Britain, European Movement and Britain For Europe plan to attack during the campaign are those of Tory former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith and Labour’s Kate Hoey.

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