Sunak claims Starmer could ‘put Brexit in peril’ – as Labour warn against election complacency

Politics

The Conservatives have claimed a Labour government could “put Brexit in peril” in statements and op-eds published on the eighth anniversary of the EU referendum.

Rishi Sunak has made a series of claims about rival Sir Keir Starmer and his intentions if Labour get into government – claiming he “would recommit us to free movement of EU citizens, taking thousands more illegal migrants and binding our businesses again in Brussels red tape”.

“Keir Starmer has never believed we can succeed as a sovereign country and has tried to overturn the result time and time again,” he said. “Now he has committed to years more wrangling the EU and abandoning all our hard-won freedoms like the ability to strike more trade deals and cut more red tape.

“Make no mistake, Brexit would be in peril under Labour.”

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Rishi Sunak speaking during a visit to a bathroom supply company near Rhyl, Wales.
Pic: PA
Image:
Sunak and three other Conservatives have launched Brexit-related attacks on Labour. Pic: PA

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has claimed Starmer and Labour “have never believed in Britain’s ability to forge its own path”.

“Instead of using the opportunities, Starmer wants to renegotiate the Brexit deal, taking us back to square one of being a rule-taker from Brussels,” she added.

More on Brexit

“Only the Conservatives will continue to take the bold action required to build a secure, independent future for our country.”

What have Labour said about Brexit and the EU?

Sir Keir last month told Sky News he plans to seek “a better [Brexit] deal than the one that we’ve got” if elected in next month’s general election.

“I don’t think many people look at that deal and think it’s working very well,” he said of the current trade arrangements. “We were promised an oven-ready deal and we got something that was, frankly, half-baked.”

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‘We need a better Brexit deal’

The Labour manifesto makes one mention of Brexit. It reads: “With Labour, Britain will stay outside of the EU. But to seize the opportunities ahead, we must make Brexit work.”

“We will reset the relationship and seek to deepen ties with our European friends, neighbours and allies,” it continues. “That does not mean reopening the divisions of the past.

“There will be no return to the single market, the customs union, or freedom of movement.

“Instead, Labour will work to improve the UK’s trade and investment relationship with the EU, by tearing down unnecessary barriers to trade.”

More from Sky News:
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How Starmer ‘set a trap’ for Boris Johnson

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Meanwhile, Home Secretary James Cleverly has claimed Labour will “open the door to 100,000 illegal migrants” in a piece for the Sunday Telegraph – which a Labour spokesperson has already labelled “desperate lies from a party that has totally failed to control our borders or manage the asylum system”.

And in The Times, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said in a new interview: “I think one of the biggest question marks over Labour is what they would do in terms of relations with the EU because it is on the record that Starmer did everything he could to frustrate a Brexit deal and to secure a second referendum.

“I was in the room with him when we were trying to negotiate an agreement between Labour and the Conservatives under Theresa [May] to secure a Brexit deal.”

Meanwhile, as polls continue to predict Labour are heading for a comfortable majority, their national campaign co-ordinator has reminded the public: “Change will only happen if you vote for it.”

Labour’s national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden wrote in the Observer: “There is a danger that the debate in this election becomes consumed by polls and specifically by the idea that the outcome is somehow pre-determined… No way is this election a done deal.

“The headlines about the clutch of MRP polls disguise a huge level of uncertainty.”

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