Labour pushes for soft Brexit
As the next round of negotiations between London and the EU kicks off the Labour Party has adopted a clear position on Brexit: the UK should remain a member of the single market and the customs union during a transitional period of up to four years after exiting the Union. This puts Labour on a collision course with Theresa May's Conservative government. Will this change the whole approach to Brexit?
Could UK end up staying in the EU?
A new referendum is a real possibility once more after Labour's change of course, the Irish Examiner writes gleefully:
“This drew a line in the sand, establishing a clear distance from the Conservative party on Brexit for the first time. There are many implications. One must be that Labour, if this move gets widespread support, might promise a second EU vote during the next general election campaign. Not so long ago this might have been dismissed as wishful thinking but now, as the unattractive reality of Brexit hits home for Britain - and for Ireland - all of a sudden there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.”
Labour wants to be "a little bit pregnant"
The Labour Party's proposal highlights once again the predicament the British have got themselves into with Brexit, Der Standard comments:
“Because as the case of Norway shows, membership of the single market demands the free movement of persons. And restricted immigration is the sole position on which a majority of the British population agrees. The political cost for Labour of giving up this objective would be as high as the price the Conservatives would pay for the economic damage caused by a hard Brexit. Ultimately both must hope for a solution in which the UK is allowed to be 'a little bit pregnant': part of the single market but with a few restrictions on immigration. That, however, goes against the principles of the EU.”
Labour has adopted a clear position
The Financial Times is delighted by Labour's change of course:
“It represents, more than a year after the referendum, the first major-party initiative that categorically renounces unrealistic hopes for a quick and easy divorce or a bespoke transition deal. Instead it grapples with the economic realities of leaving the EU. The announcement puts Labour many steps ahead of the Conservatives. ... Whatever the motivation, the Labour shift puts it firmly on the side of business and challenges the government to go still further along the road to pragmatism.”
At last a good proposal
Labour's proposal would make the Brexit negotiations less complicated, De Tijd writes in praise:
“The biggest opposition party wants to avoid a prolonged cliff edge. According to Labour it will be impossible to come to a transitional arrangement or a mature plan before March 2019. … In view of the Tory government's shilly-shallying one has to agree. … Labour's proposal is not a definitive solution but it reduces the pressure resulting from the March 2019 deadline. The discussions could then focus on the real heart of the matter.”
EU would still have British on a string
What the Labour Party is demanding is the worst-case scenario in the eyes of the Guardian:
“Labour knows there are no good options here, and while staying a part of the EEA seems, at face value, to guard against many of the dangers of a hard Brexit, in one fell swoop all those Brexiteer lies would be made reality. Do we want to become a little island, dictated to by foreign politicians, with no possibility of shaping our own economic future? It might still be unclear what it was leave voters wanted - or expected - when they stepped into the ballot box, but I’m quite sure nobody voted for that.”