Sir Keir Starmer’s main proposal to ‘improve’ the Brexit trade deal was rejected by the EU just months ago, The Telegraph can reveal.
The Labor leader said he would strike a New Zealand-style veterinary deal with Brussels to ease border checks on food.
He has made the planned deal a cornerstone of his pledge to revise the pact Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, made with the bloc in 2020.
But the proposal appears dead in the water due to opposition from the European Commission, which instead wants to commit Britain to following EU rules.
Labor ‘learned nothing from the past seven years’
Government sources told The Telegraph that the UK negotiating team offered such a deal during the latest Northern Ireland Protocol talks.
Officials floated the idea in late September as a way to reduce checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea, but it was rejected by Eurocrats.
Lord Frost, the former Brexit negotiator, told the Telegraph the EU also rejected the same proposal when he led trade talks in 2020.
“It has always been clear that the only kind of food standards or veterinary agreement the EU will make with a close neighbor like the UK is one where we have to accept EU laws,” he said. -he declares.
“This has never been acceptable to Boris Johnson’s government or to the British people who voted to regain control.
“It is truly depressing that Labor seems to have learned nothing from the seven years since the referendum and are still trying to sell non-negotiable fanciful proposals to voters.
“If they want to accept EU rules without having a say, they should at least be honest about it.”
New Zealand and the EU recognize that each other’s agricultural standards are equal, allowing most border controls on food to be removed.
Under the arrangement, Wellington retains full control of its own legislation and decides for itself how to fulfill the terms of the agreement.
Sir Keir and his top team have repeatedly announced this as the basis on which they will seek their own ‘tailor-made’ deal with the EU.
He put the proposed pact at the center of a major speech in July last year, in which he outlined his party’s plan to “make Brexit work”.
“Labour will seek to secure a new veterinary agreement for trade in agricultural products between the UK and the EU. Something that countries like New Zealand and Canada have already put in place,” he said.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, reiterated the pledge in March, saying a veterinary deal was key to easing trade barriers with Europe.
She said: “To help our farming and fishing industries, we could enter into a veterinary agreement with the EU to reduce red tape. New Zealand has one with the EU, Britain does not.
Brussels has argued that it cannot grant the same deal to the UK because it would pose a big threat to the competitiveness of European farmers.
He argues that Britain is a much bigger and closer trading partner, which means there is a much greater economic risk in importing goods produced at lower cost.
Instead, Eurocrats have repeatedly pushed a Swiss deal. Switzerland is copying and pasting EU food rules in exchange for full access to its market.
Maros Sefcovic, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, even proposed in 2021 that the UK could sign such a deal on a “temporary” basis.
But the government rejected the offer on sovereignty grounds and because it could tie ministers’ hands in trade talks with countries like the United States and India.
A Swiss agreement excluded
Sir Keir also ruled out a relationship with Switzerland when asked about it last November, insisting it would be ‘not the solution some imagine’.
“I went to Switzerland and studied this model and I wouldn’t do a Swiss model,” he added.
The Labor leader said he would seek an “improved” Brexit deal soon after entering Downing Street, but ruled out joining the EU.
He also insisted he would not bring Britain back into the single market or customs union, but would instead seek mini-deals to ease trade barriers.
Sir Keir also wants an agreement on the recognition of professional qualifications, which would facilitate the movement of workers to and from the continent.
Brussels has already rejected similar government proposals on this front too, arguing that professional mobility must be linked to the free movement of people.
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