Edinburgh MP Ian Murray says Labour should never rule out UK rejoining EU
Deputy leadership hopeful unveils plans for new campaign on Britain's future
LABOUR must leave open the door to the UK rejoining the European Union at some point in the future, Edinburgh South MP and deputy leadership hopeful Ian Murray has said.
He outlined plans for a Labour Campaign for Britain’s Future which would look at how the nations and regions of the UK governed themselves, but also at relations with Europe.
Mr Murray said he wanted the “closest possible” relationship with Europe and argued Labour should “never rule out rejoining the EU in the long-term if it is in the national interest”.
Describing himself as “the most pro-EU candidate” in the deputy race, he said pro-Europe voices were needed in the short term to ensure that forthcoming trade talks see the UK opting for higher standards and not a race to the bottom with a “Trump trade deal”.
But he said in the longer term a debate on the UK rejoining the EU was inevitable.
He said: “A Labour Party Campaign for Britain’s Future will galvanise Labour members and the public behind a plan to reform the UK, restore our global reputation after the damage of Brexit and work towards the closest possible relationship with Europe.
“It will place Labour’s values of solidarity and internationalism at its heart, with a specific focus on rebuilding bridges with Europe in the post-Brexit landscape.
“Labour members across the country are concerned about the direction our country is taking, but it’s not enough to protest about the way our country is governed. We need to come up with ideas for action as we did in 1997 to combat the rise of divisive nationalism.
“We must rebuild our relationship with EU countries following Brexit, and should never rule out campaigning to be part of the EU again in the future if it is in the national interest. The Labour Party is an internationalist party – we believe in solidarity and working together.”
Mr Murray, now Scotland’s only Labour MP, said on BBC’s Andrew Marr show that voters across the UK had not seen his party as credible at the election.
But he said: “If Scots can see that we can get into a position of delivering a UK Labour government with progressive values, Labour Party values - which are still the values of Scotland - they will vote for that party because they know there is a chance of Labour getting into power.”
Meanwhile, Labour leadership candidate Jess Phillips, a keen Remainer, played down the idea of rejoining the EU.
She said: “I don’t think this is a conversation that’s even up for debate at the moment. There’s no plan to have some sort of campaign to rejoin the EU.
But any prime minister who wouldn’t look at the merits of every single alliance that our country could have for our safety, security, peace, and economic viability with a reasoned head on, I just believe that that’s an honest position.”