Cat About The House

Written By: Cat Smith
Published: April 7, 2017 Last modified: April 10, 2017

In a speech last week, Keir Starmer set out Labour’s six tests for any final Brexit deal. The tests cover the impact of Brexit on Britain’s future cooperation with the EU, our economy, immigration, fundamental rights, national security, and the distribution of power and opportunity across the country.

They set out Labour’s vision of a strong and close future relationship with Europe: not members of the EU, but partners alongside it. This is in stark contrast to the growing tendency on Government benches to sever all ties with the EU and withdraw from our closest allies and most important trading partners.

Labour will judge any final Brexit deal by these six tests, and will not support a deal in the House of Commons that fails to reflect them. Labour’s six tests are for any final Brexit deal are:

1. Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
This must start with a comprehensive EU-UK trade deal. But it must also include continued cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, policing, science, medicine, culture and technology – where working with the EU has delivered significant mutual benefits.

2. Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
This is the standard David Davis has set for the Government. Labour has been clear that jobs and the economy must the priority for Brexit negotiations and that any deal that does not deliver on this will not be acceptable.

3. Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?
As we exit the EU, there must be a new approach to immigration that has the consent of the British people and is managed in their interests. We need to ensure that the costs and benefits are more fairly distributed, and are seen to be so. The final Brexit deal must contribute to this.

4. Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
Ensuring strong, fair and robust workplace rights is in Labour’s DNA. Exiting the EU must not be used as a pretext for rolling back these rights or weakening hard fought protections.

5. Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
The EU has been vital in helping
improve cross-border efforts to prevent terrorism and serious organised crime. The final Brexit deal must ensure there is no diminution in Britain’s national security or ability to tackle cross-border crime.

6. Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?
There needs to be a national consensus on Brexit. Yet the Prime Minister has been unable to gain the confidence of the governments of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as she prepares to trigger Article 50. The final Brexit deal must mark a fundamental shift in the Government’s approach to devolution.

The Scottish National Party have taken the UK’s decision to leave the European Union as a trigger for calling for another referendum in Scotland on whether or not they should remain in the United Kingdom. I’m pleased that Scottish Labour voted against Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for this second referendum. Public opinion shows that Scots do not want it. That’s why Labour launched www.togetherstronger.scot – to demonstrate that fact to the Nationalists.

If there has to be another referendum, voters should be able to make an informed choice. It should only take place after Brexit when there is clarity on the choice being offered. But let me be clear, Labour will never support independence. Labour will always make the positive campaign for Scotland to remain in the UK, because it delivers security and prosperity for the people of Scotland.

The SNP government should focus on the job of governing. The problems Scotland faces are already massive – we need to grow the Scottish economy and stop the cuts to schools and hospitals – without adding the devastating consequences of leaving the UK, which would mean an extra £15billion worth of spending cuts to public services. That would be turbo-charged austerity.

The SNP has cut the budget for services by £170 million this year, hospital services across Scotland face closure and less is being spent on educating children. Since 2011, the Nationalists cut £1.5bn from public services. Labour has set out costed plans to stop the SNP’s cuts and we’ll support families by campaigning for an increase in Child Benefit.

Labour believes in a reformed United Kingdom. But you can only reform the UK if we still have a UK. Politics is further from people than ever before. Brexit means we need to think again about how our country is run. Powers are returning from Brussels and many of these should come straight to the Scottish Parliament. That’s why the Scottish Labour Party has backed federalism and will argue for a stronger Scotland inside a reformed UK.

At a time when so much of the world is ravaged by division and when the trend in too many places is separation, we value the fact that our four nations come together to share sovereignty and resources.