Keir Starmer filmed saying Labour 'don't want to diverge' from EU

Moment Keir Starmer is caught on camera saying Labour ‘don’t want to diverge’ from EU rules at centre-left summit amid claims he wants to ‘reverse Brexit by stealth’ if he wins power

Sir Keir Starmer was today accused of trying to reverse Brexit ‘by stealth’ after footage emerged of him admitting Labour ‘don’t want to diverge’ from EU rules.

The Labour leader, speaking at a conference of centre-left leaders, suggested his party do not want to ‘do different things’ from EU countries if they win power.

Sir Keir added there was ‘a lot more common ground than you might think’ between Brussels and the UK.

The comments fuelled further suspicions about the Labour leader’s stance towards Brexit, as he bids to replace Rishi Sunak as prime minister at the general election.

Sir Keir has already pledged to strike a ‘much better’ Brexit deal with the EU if he enters Downing Street, while he this week held cosy talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.  

Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told MailOnline that Sir Keir’s remarks about not diverging from EU rules were ‘no surprise’.

‘Sir Keir of the second referendum has always opposed Brexit and wants the reverse it by stealth,’ he added. 

Other senior Tories claimed Sir Keir had missed the ‘whole point of Brexit’ and said Britain would be committing a ‘disastrous mistake’ by ‘blindly following’ EU rules.

Sir Keir Starmer, speaking at a conference of centre-left leaders, suggested his party do not want to ‘do different things’ from EU countries if they win power

The Labour leader’s remarks were made just days before he travelled to Paris for talks with Emmanuel Macron

Sir Keir held a 45-minute chat with the French President in the Elysee Palace behind closed doors

Sir Keir’s comments were made during his weekend trip to Montreal, Canada, for the Global Progress Action Summit

Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Sir Keir of trying to reverse Brexit ‘by stealth’

Sir Keir’s comments – first reported by Sky News – were made during his weekend trip to Montreal, Canada, for the Global Progress Action Summit.

Other speakers at the summit included Labour ex-PM Sir Tony Blair, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, former New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, ex-Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, and former EU vice-president Frans Timmermans.

The Labour leader said that ‘most of the conflict’ from the UK being outside the EU ‘arises in so far as the UK wants to diverge and do different things to the rest of our EU partners’.

He added: ‘Obviously the more we share values, the more we share a future together, the less the conflict. And actually different ways of solving problems become available.

‘Actually we don’t want to diverge, we don’t want to lower standards, we don’t want to rip up environmental standards, working standards for people that work, food standards and all the rest of it.

‘So suddenly, you’re in a space where, notwithstanding the obvious fact that we’re outside the EU and not in the EEA (European Economic Area), there’s a lot more common ground than you might think.’

Labour sources pointed to how a livestream of the event had been publicised by the party itself and suggested Sir Keir’s comments were being ‘massively oversold’.

But, responding to Sir Keir’s remarks, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly posted on Twitter: ‘Keir voted Remain. Then he backed a second referendum. Then he didn’t.

‘Now he wants to rejoin the EU in all but name. What does Labour stand for?’

Tory former Cabinet minister Simon Clarke suggested the Labour leader had missed the ‘whole point’ of Britain leaving the EU.

‘The whole point of Brexit is our ability to do things differently,’ he posted.

‘From our vaccine roll out to Freeports to solvency rules to our membership of the CPTPP, we are already demonstrating why this matters.

‘Being a rule-taker, blindly following the EU, would be a disastrous mistake.’

Fellow Tory MP Alex Stafford added: ‘If we hadn’t been divergent we wouldn’t have led the world in the vaccine during Covid.’

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We’ve left the European Union and we’re not going back in any form. 

‘We don’t support dynamic alignment. We’re not joining the single market or the customs union. 

‘We will not be in a situation where we are a rule taker. Any decisions on what standards we follow will be made in the UK Parliament.

‘The Tories have not used Brexit to diverge on food, environmental or labour standards and if they have a plan to do so then they should come clean with people.’

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