Labour MEPs: Talks are moving on, but Tory divisions threaten further progress

Labour MEPs voted today to move on to the next phase of Brexit talks, but warned that Tory infighting poses a threat to the whole process. Labour MEPs also vowed to continue to apply pressure to secure greater certainty and guarantees on citizens’ rights.

Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“In moving to the second phase of the Brexit talks, some may hope the UK government will be better prepared than it was for the first. But probably not: it has just admitted that there has not yet been a discussion in the government on what final outcome it actually wants. It has also done no impact assessment of leaving the customs union, nor on what Brexit would cost British industry, agriculture, or finance.

“Even this phase one deal has been called into question by statements from ministers, and at times has almost looked under threat, resulting in EU negotiating partners questioning Britain’s commitment to what has already been agreed.

“This deal represents progress on the rights of the three million EU citizens in the UK and 1.5 million Brits in the rest of the EU, but still leaves them facing uncertainty. Unlike the section relating to Ireland, which specifies that the commitments made in the deal “must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of any future agreement”, no such promise is given here, leaving citizens in limbo until the uncertain final agreement, unsure of their future status, unable to plan their careers or their families.

“Labour MEPs will continue to push for further commitments with regards to the rights of these citizens, as the talks move on to the next phase.”

Richard Corbett MEP added:

“The European Parliament today voted for a resolution calling on EU leaders to approve moving on to the next phase of the negotiations, when they meet at the end of this week. However, the vote is not a blank cheque for negotiators on either side, nor a green light for the government to continue the talks in the same haphazard manner.

“The negotiating teams have been put on notice: phase one was the easy part, and moving forward, they’ll need to agree issues twice as difficult in half the time. It is patently clear that the Conservatives cannot deliver a Brexit deal that works for Britain.”