Labour says EU would renegotiate Brexit withdrawal agreement

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow Business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey | Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

Party will not support the deal as it stands, Rebecca Long-Bailey says.

The business secretary of Britain’s opposition Labour party said the EU would be willing to renegotiate the proposed withdrawal agreement with her party.

“The EU have renegotiated many deals in the past and I think to suggest they wouldn’t renegotiate would be wrong. I mean, the Lisbon Treaty and CETA are just two examples,” Rebecca Long-Bailey told BBC Radio’s Today program Monday.

Her comments come after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was “no question” of making big changes to the agreement, and chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told EU27 ambassadors the bloc has a “duty” to stand firm on its key Brexit red lines.

Long-Bailey said businesses are “certainly not getting the permanent customs union that [they] have been demanding,” adding that Labour would not support the deal as it stands.

“The customs union itself is not the silver bullet. We also need a deal that ensures a strong single market relationship,” she said.

But when pressed on whether this would mean accepting EU immigration rules, she said: “We’re not going to be able to accept full freedom of movement.”

The Dutch and Irish prime ministers, Mark Rutte and Leo Varadkar, have also said that major changes to the 585-page agreement would not be possible.

Also speaking to the Today program, former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: “There is almost no room for renegotiating the deal.”

“On the main parameters there will be no room for manoeuvre,” he said, and suggested the only thing that could be added was “more precise wording.”