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Progressive principles for Brexit negotiations: Foreword by Keir Starmer and the shadow Brexit team

Progressives must accept and respect the result of the EU referendum, and come together to shape the Brexit negotiations. That starts by learning the lessons of the referendum.


Progressives must accept and respect the result of the EU referendum, and come together to shape the Brexit negotiations.

That starts by learning the lessons of the referendum. Concern over immigration was a crucial factor, with public support for greater controls and better support for communities. Too many people in our country feel left behind by our economy, and ‘control’ is now a vital currency in our politics.

Labour must confront these issues head-on. There has to be a progressive argument for the value of migration, but also for a fairer system. There must be domestic economic reform to ensure that everyone can share in prosperity and be optimistic for their future. And power should be devolved so that everyone in our country has more control over their day-to-day lives.

Responding to the result doesn’t mean abandoning progressive values. Labour must fight for a Britain that is internationalist, open and tolerant, seeking close cooperation with our European neighbours in the years ahead. No-one voted to make their families poorer, to make workplaces insecure, to make our country weaker, to put our national security at risk or to shift blame on to migrants for the failures of the state and the market. But that would be the consequence of conceding political arguments to our opponents.

In the coming months, Labour must argue for a new relationship with Europe that protects our economy and influence, while delivering greater power and prosperity for our citizens. If it is to be successful, it must unite and speak with one voice, being clear about the standards it will measure the government by after article 50 is triggered. It is in that spirit that this report suggests six progressive principles to hold the government to – aiming not to frustrate Brexit, but to shape it.

  • PRINCIPLE ONE: Retain the benefits of the Single Market and commit to a transitional arrangement
  • PRINCIPLE TWO: Reform free movement while making the positive case for migration
  • PRINCIPLE THREE: Expand the UK’s role and influence on the world stage, and maintain the crime and justice cooperation that keeps Britain safe
  • PRINCIPLE FOUR: Defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom
  • PRINCIPLE FIVE: Build a new political economy that works for everyone in our country
  • PRINCIPLE SIX: Win the consent of parliament and involve elected representatives from across the nations and regions

The six principles set out above have been endorsed by the following Labour MPs.

Mary Creagh MP

Mike Gapes MP

Peter Kyle MP

Pat McFadden MP

Alison McGovern MP

Wes Streeting MP

Chuka Umunna MP

Phil Wilson MP

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Olivia Bailey

Olivia Bailey is director of social policy at Public First and former head of domestic policy for Keir Starmer. She was previously deputy general secretary at the Fabian Society


Joe Carberry

Joe Carberry used to work for the Labour party and for Open Britain.


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