Keir Starmer’s calls for closer relationship with EU rejected

Keir Starmer discusses Brexit and a second referendum

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted to improve Britain’s relationship with the European Union, in an address to political and financial figures at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. He claimed that by forging closer trade ties – without rejoining the single market or customs union – the UK can attract international investment post-Brexit. However, a new poll of readers found over three-quarters do not think the UK should build a closer relationship with the EU.

Sir Keir said that the Tory leadership has meant “13 years of failure to grow the economy” which has been “made even harder” by Brexit. He explained: “That’s why we have been making the case for a closer economic relationship with the EU.”

He said a Labour government could negotiate better terms with the EU for science, technology, research, veterinary standards and universities. But he will have to overcome the EU’s unwillingness to allow third countries “cherry-pick” parts of the bloc’s single market.

Professor Anand Menon, Director of UK in a Changing Europe, warned that negotiating with the EU could become more challenging in the future, telling “There are all sorts of potentials for conflict due to the simple fact that we’re out.”

He added: “This will happen the more we diverge from the European Union in regulatory terms – which means the EU keep regulating and we don’t keep up. So I think Labour is probably underestimating how difficult it will be. I think a lot of observers are exaggerating the degree to which there are quick gains to be had.”

In a poll that ran from 11.15 on Friday, January 20, to 1.15pm on Monday, January 23, asked readers: “Should UK build a ‘closer relationship with the EU’?”

Overall, 10,577 readers responded with the vast majority, 77 percent (8,143 people), answering “no” against a closer relationship with the bloc.

Whereas 22 percent (2,357 people) said “yes” in support of Sir Keir’s comments, and a further one percent (77 people) said they did not know either way.

Thousands of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers took part in a lively debate on the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Many readers thought the UK should not have a closer relationship with the EU, with username gizalik commenting: “No, we are too close as it is.”

Username Worldwatcher said: “The UK must always be cautious as to any relationship with the EU.”

Another, username Frotch said: “We do not want to go back into the EU in any shape or form.”

And username london town. added: “No the UK should have nothing to do with the EU.”


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While other readers commented that the UK voted to leave the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum, with username Lesi writing: “No, we voted for much looser ties to the EU.”

Similarly, username ken2020 wrote: “Of course not, Brexit means Brexit. We need to distance ourselves from the EU in every way possible, whatever the short-term cost.”

Username imppy55 said: “No we should distance ourselves even more after the way they have been over Brexit.”

And username Britishguy71 wrote: “The longer we’re out, the stronger the arguments are to not ever re-join.”

However, some readers thought the UK could benefit from a closer relationship with Europe. Username SoltonGris said: “Mutually beneficial deals with our European friends and neighbours, absolutely where possible. Anything to do with or involving the EU, absolutely not!”

Username aboutthat said: “The EU can form a close tie with the UK if it wants as long as they don’t interfere in our laws and make bureaucratic demands.”

Likewise, username SpocksBeard wrote: “I think we should have good trading relationships with all our neighbours, however not if it means they dictate the law to us.”

And username BrumPhi remarked: “The EU should build a better relationship with the UK.”

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