LONDON — Keir Starmer will seek a major renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union if his opposition Labour Party wins the next election.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the Labour leader — who polls suggest is on course to become Britain’s next prime minister — committed to pursuing a significant rewrite of the U.K.-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).
That deal, struck by ex-PM Boris Johnson, is up for review in 2025.
“Almost everyone recognizes the deal Johnson struck is not a good deal. It’s far too thin,” Starmer said. “As we go into 2025 we will attempt to get a much better deal for the U.K..”
“I think there’s more that can be achieved across the board,” he added. Starmer cited security, innovation and research as areas where closer ties could be sought, the FT reported.
Starmer was viewed as a key pro-Remain figure in his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. Since becoming leader, he has stressed that he accepts Brexit and repeatedly ruled out reversing the 2016 referendum outcome or attempting to rejoin the EU’s customs union or single market.
He has instead argued that the U.K.’s Conservatives have failed to make the most of leaving the bloc.
“We have to make it work,” Starmer said. “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: “I’ve got a 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl — 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.”
Starmer made the comments at a meeting of center-left leaders in Montreal.
At the same gathering, he told POLITICO‘s Anne McElvoy that the U.K. should “wean itself off” China, and said of the country’s EU departure: “I feel very strongly that since Brexit, there’s been a sense that we’ve not just exited the EU, that we’ve somehow turned our back on the world and wherever you go people feel almost the absence of the U.K., once a leading voice, now rarely consulted.”