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Keir Starmer says he would bring back EU freedom of movement if he becomes Prime Minister

3 min read

Keir Starmer has said he would undo Boris Johnson’s push to end European freedom of movement if he became Prime Minister.

The Labour leadership hopeful said he would "of course" push to restore the reciprocal right of EU and UK citizens to live and work across the continent if he led a Labour government.

And Sir Keir mounted a robust defence of EU immigration in a speech to mark Britain's exit from the European Union.

Although Britain will leave the EU on Friday at 11pm, freedom of movement rules will continue until the end of the post-Brexit transition period, which runs until 31 December 2020.

But after that, the Government has said it will bring in a new points-based immigration system that includes fresh rules for EU citizens.

Speaking in London, Sir Keir confirmed he would push to undo those changes in government, as he urged Labour to “make the wider case on immigration”.

He said: “We welcome migrants. We don't scapegoat them. Low wages, poor housing, poor public services are not the fault of migrants and people who've come here: they're political failure. Political failure. So we have to make the case for the benefits of migration, the benefits of free movement.”

And he added: "I want people in this country to be able to go and work abroad in Europe. And I want people in Europe to be able to come and continue to work here. I want families to be able to live together, whether that's in Europe or here.

"And I want people in this country, in the United Kingdom, to be able to go and study in Europe just as they can now and people in Europe to be able to come and study here.

“We have to make the case for Freedom of Movement. And we have to make it strongly.”

The Shadow Brexit Secretary was then pressed by the Mirror on whether that meant he would reverse Boris Johnson’s plans to end EU free movement if Labour took office under his leadership.

Sir Keir said: "On freedom of movement, yes, of course: bring back, argue for, challenge.”

But he warned his party: “We've got to face up to the fact... we are in opposition...

"If you're in opposition you're losing. You have to make the argument. We have to show we're right.

"But the price of losing an election is you don't get to shape the country which is why we must win the next general election.”

Elsewhere in his Brexit speech, Sir Keir likened the response to Brexit to the aftermath of World War Two, as he urged Labour to abandon the "Leave/Remain divide" that had he said had "cut across families, communities, regions, the country" in recent years.

He told supporters: “We've had the Brexit divide. It's gone deep. We've now got to win the peace.

"We've got to win what comes next. Just as we did 75 years ago. We had a terrible world war. We won.

"We liberated occupied Europe. Liberated people from the concentration camps that we remembered this week. We need to summon that same spirit to win the peace."

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