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Policy briefings

Labour’s five-point plan to make Brexit work – a Rejoin EU Party critique

(Labour plan is in light text; Rejoin EU Party responses are in bold)

Point 1 – Sort out the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Sorting out the Northern Ireland Protocol must be the starting point to make Brexit work. Agreement here can be the springboard to securing a better deal for the British people. There is a clear landing zone to a deal. Instead, [the government’s] only plan is to stoke up old Brexit divisions. We must move on.

The only stable solutions for Northern Ireland are: either the UK re-joins the EU, or there is Irish unification. Irish unification or even any half-way-house which retains – as the NIP lays down – adjudication by the European Court of Justice will be a precedent for Scotland in its seeking independence.  Indeed, any softening of Brexit will strengthen the SNP’s hand, since it will make independence and joining the EU economically easier, by lessening the future trade barriers between England and an independent Scotland. Labour risks becoming the party which loses Scotland. There is no landing zone, unless one is prepared to boost Scottish independence and have UK troops on the ground in NI protecting customs installations. The government just doesn’t want one, also as a result of ECJ involvement and the implications for Scotland. Labour’s plan ignores the  only solution which will preserve the United Kingdom: reversing Brexit completely.

Labour will seek a new veterinary agreement for trade in agri-products between the UK and EU. Something countries like New Zealand and Canada already have in place. This would eliminate most checks created by the Tories’ Brexit deal between the British and Northern Ireland border. For all other goods, we will work with business in Northern Ireland to put in place an enhanced and specialised trusted-trader scheme to allow low-risk goods entering Northern Ireland without unnecessary checks.

Are we talking about food/animal exports to the EU, or imports from the EU? The latter are more important. Both would be facilitated by a veterinary agreement, but this would mean complying with EU standards without any influence over future modifications and accepting adjudication by the ECJ. The only way to have a part in deciding such regulations and having judges in the ECJ is to fully re-join the EU.

Point 2 – Tear down unnecessary trade barriers.

Labour would extend the new veterinary agreement to cover all the UK, which would tear down barriers for our agri-product exporters. We would seek to agree mutual recognition of conformity assessments across specified sectors so our producers no longer need to complete two sets of tests, or two processes of certification, to sell their goods in both the UK and the EU.

There were no forms before Brexit. At the moment, we’re not checking any imports from the EU as we are obliged to do under the Trade & Co-operation Agreement with the EU and World Trade Organisation rules, having constantly put that off, not least because it will push up food prices. Having conformity agreements would ease that burden when it comes, as it would help exporters, but it will only be on the basis of our accepting whatever regulations the EU sets and ultimate ECJ adjudication. The only way to avoid that is to fully re-join the EU.

Labour has no intention from diverging standards below current levels, so agreeing these common standards will not only help our exporters but create a safety net to ensure our food standards are world-leading.

Labour doesn’t support the return of freedom of movement. However, we will seek to find new flexible labour mobility arrangements for those making short-term work trips and for musicians and artists seeking short-term visas to tour within the EU.

We would have to pay for this as the advantages for us are greater than to them, so a contribution to EU cultural budgets would be required in some form. The only way to avoid this is to fully re-join the EU.

Point 3 – Support our world-leading services and scientists.

Labour will seek mutual recognition of professional qualifications to enable our world-leading service industries to do business in the EU.

Only really relevant and significant if there is freedom of movement, which Labour rejects. FOM is an essential reason for re-joining the EU, but is an argument best considered in the category of immigration policy.

Labour will maintain Britain’s data-adequacy status, meaning our data protection rules are deemed equivalent to those in the EU, enabling UK digital services companies to compete.

GDPR is very important for our businesses, but again will probably require a financial contribution eventually as new regulations are formulated and policed as the advantages are greater for us than for them. Moreover, those modifications will be decided by them not us and be ultimately justiciable by the ECJ, where we no longer have judges. The only way we could have a part in deciding such modifications and could have judges in the ECJ is by re-joining the EU.

We will not seek regulatory equivalence for financial services as that could constrain our ability to make our rules and system work better.

Pretty awful for the City and tax revenue over time. The core of our financial service-based economy is at risk. Ultimately the only way to be a major financial services hub in this time zone is to join the euro, which we would have to commit to do eventually in re-joining the EU. You might think it prudent not to say that yet, although it’s the truth and will have to be faced sooner or later. Having said that, the euro has proved itself as a stable currency that other countries have benefited from by joining and the negative narrative that surrounds it in the UK is neither accurate nor justified.

However, Labour will make sure Britain’s world-leading scientists are not missing out by giving our researchers access to funding and vital cross border research programmes.

There is a growing lobby of continental universities and institutes for advanced studies getting grants and projects now we’re out, who’ll be seeking to keep it that way, draining away our skills and critical mass of research capacity. For example, the notion that solving the NIP (if that happens) will seamlessly lead to our re-joining Horizon is very optimistic.

Point 4 – Keep Britain safe.

There is no reason why leaving the EU should weaken our security capabilities. Bad relations, lack of trust and failure to secure cross-border and security measures in the Brexit deal are doing just that.

At a time when European security is under threat, we must strengthen our security co-operation with trusted allies.

Labour will seek a new security pact with the EU to defend our borders, by allowing us to share data, intelligence and best practice. We cannot take risks with terrorism, organised crime and people trafficking. Labour will seek to set up joint intelligence working to boost capabilities in Britain and the bloc.

Is Labour ready to pay for this access to EU law enforcement, which benefits us more than them? Have you asked the US and other major security players if they are happy with such intelligence sharing? Inside the EU, we had a waiver which lapsed with Brexit.

And we will seek to create new models of joint working with EU and other countries to combat cyber-attacks and the spread of state-sponsored disinformation.

In any such co-operation, the US-EU partnership will be key. We’ll be making the coffee whilst they confer.

Point 5 – Invest in Britain

Labour will use green investment and a commitment to buy, make and sell in Britain to ensure we are best placed to compete on a global stage.

So we want more trade with the EU, but expect it to welcome a “Buy British” preference regime? Good luck with that.

Labour will embrace global trade outside the EU. Labour wants Britain to lead the way in developing a new global trade approach that puts people, communities, rights, and standards at its very heart.

If you are to grow your trade at all while not restoring British trade with the EU, the share of business you’ll be doing with countries whose governments don’t put people, communities, rights and standards “at the very heart” of their policies will go through the roof. The commercial prostitution we already have towards the Gulf, for example will look like a picnic. The only solution: re-join the EU.

The Government has missed Brexit opportunities in the past 18 months, including cutting VAT on energy bills.

Cutting VAT is a very bad way to deal with a spike in energy prices, which is why even this government, a champion in mismanagement, has not adopted it. A used postage stamp for you on which to list the other Brexit opportunities, including ones we have not missed.

Labour will use flexibility outside the EU to ensure British regulation is adapted to suit British needs.

If you have separate British regulations from international standards, which are increasingly set by the EU, US and China, you will merely add to costs. If you’re not an international rule-maker, you are a rule-taker.

As an example, we’ll change rules on insurance, which are currently taken directly from EU regulations, to allow British pension savers to own and build British infrastructure.

The recent vulnerability of pension funds in the gilt market has shown anything which encourages them into investments which may be less sound and influenced by factors other than pure financial prudence is not a good idea. This is not a ‘Brexit benefit’.

The Rejoin EU Party

Brexit isn’t working, this is why the Rejoin EU Party was founded. No amount of plasters can solve this crisis. The only solution is to Rejoin.

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