UK opposition leader Keir Starmer has abandoned the commitment of free movement in the EU, a promise he made to Labour members during the party’s leadership contest. Starmer said that his party had to be honest with the public and added that if it won the next general election a major renegotiation of the Brexit treaty would not be possible. The Brexit deal has confirmed the end of free movement for Britons and EU nationals within each others’ countries.
Back when he was standing for the Labour leadership, Starmer had said that he would “defend free movement” as the UK left the EU. Back in 2019, he had also said that he would bring back free movement of EU citizens in the UK. However, now Starmer has ruled out the sort of extensive renegotiation of the Brexit that would be required to restore free movement.
While speaking to BBC, Starmer said he doesn’t think there’s scope for major renegotiation. He said that after four years, the UK has arrived at a treaty and now they’ve got to make that deal work. He added that there were, however, aspects of the agreement that might be improved on, including how it covered the creative industries and what it did for the service sector, which he said had largely been left out.
The Labour leader said that it was not realistic to pretend that the EU would want to negotiate a new Brexit agreement with the UK. He said that whether his party members like it or not, it is going to be the treaty that an incoming Labour government inherits and has to make work. It is worth noting that free movement became an issue in the leadership campaign after the party conference backed the principle in autumn 2019. The commitment was linked to defending migrants’ rights, but it also contradicted previous party comments saying free movements would end if the UK left the EU.
Meanwhile, according to the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, both sides have agreed to "unprecedented 100% tariff liberalisation". This means that all tariffs have been scrapped along with quotas on the movement of goods produced by Britain and the European Union. This is also the first time that the 27-nation-bloc has agreed to a ‘zero tariffs zero quota deal’ with any trading partner, starting from January 1, 2021.
The Brexit deal also includes the provisions to support the trade in services, providing the UK with service suppliers with legal guarantees that will not face any disruptions to trade while selling into the union along with supporting British professionals who will continue their business across Europe.