04 February 2019
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson has said Keir Starmer’s comments on “a backstop” during his visit to Belfast were borne out of an internal struggle inside the Labour party and said the focus should be on the Brussels and the need to start meaningful negotiations following last week’s vote in Parliament.
He said, “Keir Starmer’s comments about “a backstop” are similar to those he made over a week ago during a television interview. Far from being borne out of any deep concern for Northern Ireland, they are part of an internal struggle inside the Labour Party.
When he talks about a backstop being inevitable it is code for keeping the UK fully inside the Single Market and Customs Union. Others in the Labour Party, including Jeremy Corbyn seem to recognise that such an outcome would not reflect the referendum result.
When he talks about Parliament asserting itself he conveniently ignores last week’s vote where Parliament has set a course for what it wants to see from the government in negotiations with the EU.
Most concerning is that he has effectively said the only alternative to the current backstop is remaining inside the customs union and single market because the European Union haven’t offered anything else forward. For all Labour’s criticisms of the government’s negotiations it seems Keir Starmer is prepared to accept defeat without even entering any negotiation.
Whilst Keir Starmer’s attention seems to be fixed on the leadership of the Labour Party, the real focus should be on the European Union. They have already acknowledged that alternatives to the backstop will have to be found, but at the moment they refuse to negotiate until after 29th March. The focus should be on Brussels and starting meaningful negotiation immediately.”