Call for Labour to Unify Over EU Issues

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Friday August 4 2017

Contradictions risk Tory hard Brexit.

The SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson has called on the Labour Party to unify - following confusion from the party over key issues on the EU - to help secure the best possible deal during Brexit negotiations.

Stephen Gethins MP pointed to interviews, articles and comments from key Labour frontbenchers and said such contradictions from within the party risks allowing the Tories to push through their hard Brexit plans in the absence of a strong, official opposition. 

Speaking on BBC Andrew Marr show on Sunday 23rd July, Jeremy Corbyn abandoned his party's support for membership of the single market, incorrectly claiming that membership of the single market was dependent on membership of the EU.

However, a few days later Jeremy Corbyn’s comments were rebuked by key allies and frontbenchers.

The following Wednesday 26th July, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell contradicted the claim stating that Labour "are not ruling anything out," over the UK’s membership of the single market.

The very next day on Thursday 27th July, both Diane Abbott and Keir Starmer also rebuked Jeremy Corbyn by saying that Labour “are not at this stage taking any options off the table,” and that it is “vital that we retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union.”

The open contradictions adds to comments made by Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner on Monday 24th July, who said that seeking a future agreement with the EU over the customs union would be a “disaster.”

That position was then publicly put down the following day by Labour’s former Shadow Health Secretary, Heidi Alexander who described her colleague’s position as “fundamentally wrong” and “depressing and disingenuous in equal measure.”

Scottish Labour MP, Ian Murray, also joined the chorus of confusion in another article on Wednesday 26th July, criticising Barry Gardiner adding that his comments are “quite simply not true” and is “where the inherent dishonesty” lies.

Stephen Gethins MP commented:

“In recent weeks we have seen confusion and contradictions at the heart of Labour when we need a unified Labour party, who – as the official opposition - can hold this UK government to account, and along with the SNP, work to get the best deal possible during Brexit negotiations.

“Labour’s continued contradictions over the UK’s membership of the single market and customs union - which is key to the UK’s economy, growth and job opportunities – risks letting the Tories push through their Brexit plans that will impact us all.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government, alongside other devolved administrations, are guaranteed a seat at the negotiating table in order to protect our economic interests, jobs and small and large businesses, and not simply be left to the recklessness of a Tory government intent on a pursuing an ideological cliff-edge Brexit.”



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