What the leaked draft of Labour’s manifesto says about Brexit

What the leaked draft of Labour’s manifesto says about Brexit

Overnight a draft version of the Labour Party’s General Election manifesto has been leaked to several media outlets. The Guido Fawkes website has published the full text of the entire document; below are the key points relating to Brexit.

While it states that “Labour accepts the referendum result”, the key passage indicates that it would not accept leaving the EU with no deal:

“Labour recognises that leaving the EU with ‘no deal’ is the worst possible deal for Britain and that it would do damage to our economy and trade. We will reject ‘no deal’ as a viable and negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy.”

It sets its priorities on the Brexit front as:
  • jobs and living standards
  • building a close new relationship with the EU
  • protecting workers’ rights and environmental standards
  • providing certainty to EU nationals
  • giving a meaningful role to Parliament throughout negotiations

According to the leak, Labour would:

  • “scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union”
  • “immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens who have chosen to make their lives in EU countries”
  • “work constructively with the EU and other European nations on issues such as climate change, refugee crises and counter-terrorism”
  • seek to stay part of Horizon 2020 and the Erasmus scheme, maintain membership of bodies like Euratom and the European Medicines Agency
  • replace the Great Repeal Bill with an EU Rights and Protections Bill to “ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit”
  • “introduce legislation to ensure there are no gaps in national security and criminal justice arrangements as a result of Brexit”
  • seek to retain membership of cross-border agencies involved in policing and security and continue European Arrest Warrant arrangements
  • “cover any shortfall in EU Structural Funding that occurs as a result of Brexit”, guaranteeing such funding – as well as that for peace and reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland – throughout the course of the next Parliament
  • “ensure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and that there is no change in the status or sovereignty of Gibraltar”
  • legislate to guarantee that Parliament has “a truly meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal”
On immigration, the document commits to “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”, meaning making a distinction between family connections and migrant labour. It proposes to:
  • “replace the income thresholds for family attachments with an obligation to survive without recourse to public funds”
  • “replace the financial threshold test for family reunion”
  • “work with employers who need to recruit from abroad, but… stop employers from recruiting only from overseas”
  • “establish a Migrant Impact Fund for public services under additional pressure in host communities, funded by the existing visa levy and an additional, proportionate contributory element from residence visas for high net worth individuals
  • “welcome international students who benefit and strengthen our education sector”

On international trade, the document states that “the UK’s future prosperity depends on minimising tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent us from exporting and creating the jobs and economic growth we need”. It states that it would make sure the EU continues to be “a priority trading partner”, with it vital to “retain unrestricted access for our goods and services”. It goes on to promise to:

  • “bring forward an integrated trade and industrial strategy that boosts exports, investment and decent jobs in Britain”.
  • “ensure proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade and investment deals”
  • “work with global trading partners to develop ‘best-in-class’ free trade and investment agreements that remove trade barriers and promote skilled jobs and high standards”
  • “ensure all future trade deals safeguard the right to regulate in the public interest and to protect public services”
  • “ensure that trade agreements cannot undermine human rights and labour standards, and that UK Export Finance support is not available to companies engaged in bribery or corrupt practices”
  • “work with other WTO members to end the dumping of state-subsidised goods on our markets”
  • “champion the export interests of SMEs, ensuring all new trade agreements include a commitment to support their market access needs”
  • “develop an export incentive scheme for SMEs based on international best practice, and… ring-fence Tradeshow Access Programme grants to help SMEs reach new customers around the world”
  • “use the full range of export credit, finance, insurance and trade promotion tools to boost British exports and support priority industrial sectors”
  • “support international negotiations towards an Environmental Goods Agreement at the WTO” and “use trade negotiations to boost market access for British environmental goods and services”, alongside support for investment into new green technologies and innovative low-carbon products”
  • “develop capital investment schemes and other incentives to encourage investment into the UK, especially into target areas identified by the industrial strategy”
In relation to energy, the leaked manifesto states that “as part of the Brexit negotiations Labour will prioritise maintaining access to the internal energy market and will retain access to Euratom, to allow continued trade of fissile material, access to and collaboration over research vital to our nuclear industry”.