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'We have to make it work': UK opposition wants new Brexit deal

Brexit or the EU
Brexit or the EU Copyright LUSA - Canva Stock Images
Copyright LUSA - Canva Stock Images
By Joshua Askew
Published on Updated
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"We will attempt to get a much better deal for the UK," said Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer.

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The head of the UK opposition has said his party would seek a significant overhaul of the Brexit deal if elected at the next general election. 

Speaking to the Financial Times, Labour leader Keir Starmer revealed he wanted a closer trading relationship with the EU, claiming it was his responsibility to future generations. 

“Almost everyone recognises the deal [former UK Prime Minister Boris] Johnson struck is not a good deal – it’s far too thin,” Starmer said at the Global Progress Action Summit in Canada. “We will attempt to get a much better deal for the UK.”

The opposition leader ruled out rejoining the EU, customs union and single market, however. 

The UK's withdrawal agreement from the EU, which came into force in February 2020, is up for renewal in 2025. Before this, the UK is due to hold nationwide elections, which could see Starmer's party come to power. 

Starmer - who has been criticised for not offering a clear policy programme - said "more than can be achieved" in a new deal, covering business, services, security, innovation, research and other areas. 

Whether Brussels is willing to renegotiate with London is unknown. 

Polls put the centre-left Labour Party ahead of the ruling Conservatives, with the UK set to hold an election no later than January 2025. 

“We have to make it work,” Starmer told the FT. “That’s not a question of going back in. But I refuse to accept that we can’t make it work. 

"I think about those future generations when I say that," he added, citing his 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter.

"I’m not going to let them grow up in a world where all I’ve got to say to them about their future is, it’s going to be worse than it might otherwise have been." 

After 43 years of EU membership, the UK voted in a referendum on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU, with 52% wanting to leave and 48% wishing to remain in the bloc.

The impact of Britain's departure from the EU is hotly disputed, though there are few clear benefits to show. 

Economists have claimed it is turbocharging the country's cost of living crisis, fuelling labour shortages and putting pressure on the country's prized financial services industry, while musicians and citizens complain about the negative impact of losing the freedom of movement.

A key Brexit promise to give the country's National Health Service an extra £350 million (€406 million) in supposed EU funding a week has not materialised. 

However, others say the fallout from COVID and the war in Ukraine are more to blame for the country's woes.  

There is a growing sense of Brexit regret in the UK, polls show. 

The number of Brits saying it was a mistake to leave the EU hit a record high in July, with 57% saying the decision was wrong, pollsters YouGov found. 

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New deals between the EU-UK have signalled increasingly positive relations. 

In September, London announced it would rejoin Horizon, the EU's €95.5 billion science research programme.

The deal means British scientists can once more benefit from EU funding and collaborate more closely with their European counterparts. 

London and Brussels signed a long-awaited deal to boost cooperation on financial services in July.  

Starmer will go to Paris to see French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, having visited The Hague last week.

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Macron and Starmer are expected to discuss post-Brexit relations, as well as a potential returns agreement with the EU to stop people travelling across the Channel in dangerously small boats.

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