Article 50: Brexit deal must meet six tests, says Labour

Keir Starmer on Andrew Marr ShowImage copyright

Labour will not support any Brexit deal negotiated by the government unless it meets the party’s “six tests”, the shadow Brexit secretary has said.

Any deal must include a strong relationship with the EU and the exact same benefits the UK has from the single market, Sir Keir Starmer said.

The UK should “honour our obligations” regarding any “divorce bill”, he added.

The government will trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, kick-starting talks aimed at agreeing a Brexit deal with the EU.

The government will then publish its Great Repeal Bill on Thursday.

It will propose giving ministers the powers to change some aspects of European laws when they have been incorporated into UK legislation, without needing the approval of Parliament.

Triggering Article 50 begins a two-year negotiation process to attempt to reach a deal before Britain officially leaves the EU in March 2019.

If no deal is agreed, it would mean World Trade Organization rules would be imposed – less favourable terms than trading within the single market.

What is Article 50?

Brexit: What would ‘no deal’ look like?

Sir Keir, who will outline Labour’s demands in a speech on Monday, told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “If our tests are not met then we do not intend to support the deal the government comes back with.”

Among the tests is one calling for the “exact same benefits” the UK has from the single market and customs union – words he said were used by Brexit Secretary David Davis in Parliament.

“The government can’t turn around and say this is unachievable because it was David Davis… who said that,” he said.

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd says the UK has a “lot to offer” in the negotiation

Another is a demand for “fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities”. Sir Keir accepted that the EU principle of freedom of movement “has to go”.

His party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in January that while Labour was “not wedded to freedom of movement… nor do we rule it out”.

A future immigration policy must be one of managed migration which works for businesses and communities, Sir Keir said.

One of the tests calls for “a strong collaborative future relationship with the EU”.

He said it was important to state that because “some of the pure Brexiteers actually want us to crash out [without a deal], either at the Article 50 stage in two years or before that”.

Asked whether a reported £50bn bill was worth paying for better access to the EU’s single market, Sir Keir said it was “very important early on that the principles of liability are established, what is the money for… and then I think the prime minister should say loud and clear we are a country that complies with our international obligations”.

“How much and over what period is to be negotiated,” he said, and if there were transitional arrangements in place after March 2019 there would be longer to pay it back.


Home Secretary Amber Rudd was also asked about the reported £50bn bill for better access to the single market and customs union, mentioned by Jean Claude Juncker this week.

“I certainly do think that we should try to have the widest possible access to the single market, that is what businesses want us to have and that is what is good for the economy… we don’t know what that cost would be… that is going to be part of the negotiations. We have a lot to offer in this negotiation as well, we mustn’t ever forget that this is going to be two-way.

She also dismissed a “no deal” scenario outlined by EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier – with truck queues at Dover, disruption to air traffic and a suspension in the movement of nuclear materials to the UK – as “apocalyptic”.

“I think it’s fair to say I don’t recognise that description… he would say that wouldn’t he?” she said.

‘Series of diktats’

Ms Rudd said the UK economy and world economy were doing well, and she thought “there was a lot of positioning right now”.

“Over the next two years I hope people will calm down and we will see a really good deal that will work for us, and the European Union.”

On Thursday, the government will publish its Great Repeal Bill, which will ensure EU law no longer applies in the UK after Brexit.

It includes proposals for the government to be given a “new time-limited correcting power” which would allow changes to be made through so-called Henry VIII clauses – without needing the approval of Parliament.

The government says it needs the power to make “technical” changes quickly as a lot of EU law will not work properly without changes being made.

But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “We are not going to sit there and hand over power to this government to override Parliament, override democracy and just send down a series of diktats about what’s going to happen in the future.”

Article 50: Brexit deal must meet six tests, says Labour}