Labour Party would look to 'fix' Boris Johnson's post-Brexit trade deal, shadow minister claims

Thu 30 Sept 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

labour party

A Labour government could look to negotiate with the EU to “fix” Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, a member of the shadow cabinet has said.

Shadow justice minister David Lammy said the deal was to blame for the current queues at petrol stations and overall supply chain disruption occurring in the UK.

‘No queues in Europe’

Lammy contrasted what’s happening in the UK with the situation on the continent.

“There are challenges for hauliers, of course, right across Europe,” he told the BBC. “But let’s be clear: there are no queues in Spain, in Germany or France.”

He added: “The difference is that we exited the EU on Boris’ deal, we’re out of the customs union, the cabotage system that was set up that allowed drivers to come here and go back with goods, and the tariffs that we now have mean the drivers aren’t coming.”

‘No case’

Party leader Keir Starmer has previously said there was “no case” for renegotiating the Brexit deal and in January said an incoming Labour government would have to make the existing treaty “work”.

According to the BBC, Starmer has not made Brexit a priority since becoming leader, although his recent essay on the future of the party, ‘The Road Ahead’, said Labour “would fix the holes in the shoddy Brexit deal”.

Low hanging fruit

Earlier this week at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, shadow trade minister Emily Thornberry said that Labour would look to focus on improving post-Brexit trade with the EU, instead of pursuing deals with the US and Indo-Pacific region.

Thornberry said a Labour government “would not be forced into chasing the relatively small gains from, for example, a free trade deal with Brazil, where our exports last year were one fifth of what we sold to Belgium”.

‘Move on’

Shadow Brexit minister Baroness Chapman told iNews that the party should no longer discuss the UK’s relationship with the EU in the context of the vote to leave and that remainers needed to “get over” Brexit and “move on”.

She said a better relationship with Brussels than Boris Johnson’s hard trade deal was still “up for grabs”, but that Labour must take a positive approach.

Reopening old wounds

However, according to Independent commentator Sean O’Grady, “Labour is tiptoeing back to the idea of renegotiating Brexit”.

He says that with Boris Johnson’s government looking to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol, this could allow the EU to reopen their own grievances, including French fishing rights.

“In Brussels, Berlin and Paris they won’t be bothered if it’s Starmer or Johnson bleating about fairness; they’ll get short shrift,” he predicts.

Attitudes to Brexit

Changing attitudes to Brexit may be a factor for Labour reconsidering Brexit as an issue.

Politico reports a YouGov poll showing that 53% of people think Brexit is “going badly”, with only 18% believing it is going “fairly well” or “very well”.

Conference speech

Starmer steered clear of Brexit and trade during his speech to conference yesterday, however, instead concentrating on his vow to make Labour a party of law and order.

He also reiterated shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’ promises that a Labour government would be fiscally responsible.

Politico reports that Starmer ridiculed Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda as the fuel crisis persisted.

“Level up? You can’t even fill up,” he said.