The Labour Party has thrown its position on Brexit into further confusion after reneging on a pledge to support ending Free Movement within hours of having made it.
Party Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said that Labour accepted the Brexit vote, and would treat the end of Free Movement – the Single Market mechanism which allows unlimited and effectively unvetted migration between EU member-states – as a “red line” in negotiations with Brussels if it were in power.
Just hours later, however, Starmer told the BBC: “We must have immigration that works for our communities and our economy [and] that means there has to be movement of people to come and work in this country.”
He added, “The last thing we want is for our businesses to go bankrupt” – indicating that, in his view, it is not reasonable to expect employers to forgo the steady stream of low-wage migrant labour they have enjoyed under the Free Movement regime.
What a mess. https://t.co/qdS6yKmCLU
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) April 25, 2017
Workforce statistics show that many businesses are currently “hooked” on cheap European workers. Free Movement also drives down wages in the United Kingdom and inflicting a brain drain and labour shortages on the migrants’ countries of origin.
Starmer’s about-face on Free Movement was branded “nonsensical” by the prime minister. Tory backbencher and long-time Leave supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg told the MailOnline the speech was “an admission the Labour Party has rejected Brexit and with it many of its non-metropolitan voters”.
Blair's crusade https://t.co/VvrLuBCdNk
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 21, 2017
Moreover, while Starmer appeared to rule out a much-discussed second referendum on EU membership under Labour, fellow Brexit spokesman Paul Blomfield appeared to hint this stance was only being adopted for the election.
“We are going into this election saying that we respect the view of the British people …. [But] obviously if there were significant reforms that came out of these negotiations which addressed the concerns that led people to vote in the way they did last year, that’s a whole new ball game, isn’t it?” he said.