U.K.’s Labour to Challenge Tories on EU Repeal Bill, Times Says

  • Shadow Brexit secretary seeks safeguards for market access
  • Opposition party to lobby pro-EU Tories to support amendments

The U.K. opposition Labour Party will seek major changes in legislation repealing laws that took Britain into the European Union four decades ago as a way to stay in the bloc’s customs union and single market, the Times said, citing a letter from the party’s Brexit spokesman.

Keir Starmer wrote to his Conservative Party counterpart, Brexit Secretary David Davis, to warn that unless changes are made to safeguard “crucial rights and protections,” the party will oppose the so-called Great Repeal Bill when it is considered in Parliament on Thursday, the newspaper said Saturday.

Keir Starmer

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The opposition is backing a softer line on Brexit, with the party announcing last month that it wants Britain to remain in the single market and customs union for up to four years after exiting the EU. Labour lawmaker Chuka Umunna told Bloomberg TV on Friday that the U.K. should look to maintain customs and single-market trade links indefinitely to avoid “immensely damaging” economic consequences of Brexit.

The vision of Brexit put to the electorate by Vote Leave campaigners in last year’s referendum looks “impossible to deliver,” Umunna said, as he called for a further softening of Labour’s stance on leaving the EU ahead of the party’s annual conference in Brighton later this month.

Labour will seek support from pro-EU Tory backbenchers to force changes to the bill that will be published in the autumn, the Times said. The government is yet to signal whether it will concede the changes or attempt to pass them with its slim parliamentary majority, the paper reported.

The repeal bill would abolish the 1972 law that gave priority to EU laws in the U.K. while grafting EU statutes into British law books.

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