The Independent London Newspaper
26th April 2019

FORUM: May’s set on doing a Euro deal in the dark

    Keir Starmer QC MP

    Keir Starmer QC MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU

    Published: 13 October, 2016

    AS New Journal readers will know, I have accepted Jeremy Corbyn’s request to lead Labour’s response to the EU referendum as Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

    I campaigned hard for Britain to remain inside the EU. It was also the position the majority of people in Camden voted for. But we must now carefully scrutinise the government’s Brexit strategy and hold them to account on what will be the single most important issue facing Britain for many years to come.

    Theresa May’s government, however, is set on doing a deal in the dark. She seems determined to press ahead without the British public being informed of even the basic terms of her Brexit strategy. 

    During the referendum Leave campaigners argued that they would return sovereignty to our parliament. They appear to have now turned their backs on this commitment. As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, “It seems the government wants to draw up negotiating terms, negotiate and reach a deal without any parliamentary approval. That is not making parliament sovereign. That is sidelining parliament.”

    This is not just some squabble in Whitehall. 

    Leaving the EU will have severe repercussions for all of us – for jobs, trade, workers’ rights, common security measures and vital environmental protections.

    In the 2015 election the Conservative Party had no plans for what is now termed a “hard Brexit,” that would leave Britain without free access to European markets. 

    In fact, their manifesto had a commitment to “safeguard British interests in the single market”. 

    That commitment appears about to be ditched. The consequences could be severe for our economy and for jobs. 

    Camden, one of the most multicultural of areas, has direct and close links with Europe. 

    More than one in 10 workers in Camden holds an EU passport. This rises to 17 per cent for professional, scientific and technical industries, 14 per cent of financial and insurance services and 10 per cent of information and communications. 

    Our hospitals and universities, our banks and other financial companies, are dependent on the talents they have brought to London. 

    That is why it is so important that our businesses and institutions are able to continue to attract staff with the skills they need from across the world.

    I accept and respect the result of the referendum, but neither those who voted to remain nor those who voted to leave gave the government a mandate to take an axe to our economy. 

    In the months ahead it will be my job, and the task of the team I will lead, to argue for the best possible Brexit deal. 

    Exiting the EU will shape all of our futures and cannot be negotiated without public scrutiny. That means open, democratic debate. Nothing else will do.