Sir Keir Starmer will attempt to convince his Europhile MPs to back a Brexit trade deal by arguing that Labour can raise standards in the future, it was suggested last tonight.
In a bid to heal divides in his party, Sir Keir is reportedly preparing to argue that an “evolution” clause in any agreement will allow him to strengthen rules on workers rights and the environment if he wins power.
It comes after Boris Johnson’s negotiating team this week appeared to reach a compromise with Brussels over its level playing field demand, which seeks to ensure that the UK does not diverge radically from the bloc’s standards in future.
While the Prime Minister has rejected proposals which would have forced the two sides to move in lockstep in future, the Government has agreed to a degree of alignment which will continue in future.
According to the Financial Times, a leaked internal memo drawn up by Labour argues that this “at least sweetens” a “thin” trade agreement “by ensuring there is a safety net of some sort to prevent radical deregulation from the UK government.”
It goes on to state: “It crucially provides a platform for a future Labour government to build on to increase standards and rights across the board.
“If a future Labour government is successful in working with EU partners to improve standards and raise minimum standards at EU level, we can apply this in the UK.
“These new standards… would make it much harder for a future Conservative government to slash those standards without facing repercussions.”
The memo will be seen as further evidence that Sir Keir is preparing to instruct Labour MPs to vote for a last-minute deal, despite significant reservations on his frontbench.
While Sir Keir’s allies are keen to rebuild bridges with Leave voters who abandoned the party in 2019, senior figures, including shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, are understood to have argued for Labour to abstain to avoid being tarnished with any economic fallout from Brexit.