One of Labour’s star performers, Sir Kier Starmer, former Director of Public Prosecutions turned Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, today announced a range of measures as part of the Party’s platform on Brexit.
The measure spun to the media as the most controversial is the plan to allow 3 million EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit – reversing on “Day One” the Tory Government’s shameful equivocation on the issue.
Repeatedly during the Referendum campaign, Leave campaigners insisted that the EU citizens already here would be allowed to stay. Yet Theresa May has repeatedly refused to guarantee their rights, a move Sir Kier branded as “shameful”.
Sir Kier said: “It is shameful that the Prime Minister rejected repeated attempts by Labour to resolve this before Article 50 was triggered. As a result, 3 million EU nationals have suffered unnecessary uncertainty, as well as the 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU.
“EU nationals do not just contribute to our society: they are our society. And they should not be used as bargaining chips.
“So on day one of a Labour Government we will immediately guarantee that all EU nationals currently living in the UK will see no change in their legal status as a result of Brexit, and we will seek reciprocal measures for UK citizens in the EU.
“There could be no clearer signal that Britain is taking a new approach to Brexit than a Labour Government immediately rectifying this injustice. And there could no clearer signal that Labour want a close and collaborative future relationship with our EU partners.”
Some Leave voters in Ipswich were vocal about their desire to see EU citizens kicked out of the country, so this speech won’t necessarily help whoever Labour choose as a candidate in Ipswich. But for every vote they lose on the issue of EU citizens, they gain one on the liberal left. There are many Tories who consider that position to be far more humane and fair than the current Tory position.
However this plays out locally and in the media, this was by far the best speech made by a Labour politician recently, and marks Sir Kier out as one to watch for the future.