‘It will be a very big moment’: can Labour revisit Brexit – and heal bitter divisions with Europe?

Press quote (The Observer)
23 June 2024

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, who talks to European governments regularly, says the EU will extract its price for rebuilding links beyond security and defence cooperation. “EU leaders will tell him [Starmer] that if he wants things out of the EU – such as a deal on veterinary standards to reduce border checks on food, animals and plants – he will have to accept some of their asks. For example, the EU wants a deal on youth mobility, to make it easier for young people in the EU and the UK to spend more time on the other side of the Channel. And it wants a deal on fish. The current deal giving the EU access to British waters expires in 2026, after which there will have to be an annual negotiation unless the UK accepts another long-term deal. The EU believes in bargaining and trade-offs, which a Starmer government will have to go along with if it wants to improve the EU-UK relationship.”

Grant adds: “There will be goodwill towards a Starmer government but they worry that it doesn’t know what it wants from Europe. Their No 1 message to Labour is, give us clarity about what you want to achieve.”