The Labour Party I lead will always speak out in the national interest. I want the talks with Europe to succeed. I have long argued that it is possible to get a deal that can allow businesses to thrive, good jobs to be created and peace in Northern Ireland to be preserved. I want to see our own union of nations –England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – protected too.
People want to move on from this torturous debate; they want to see a deal done so we can focus as a united nation on how we protect ourselves from the next wave of the pandemic.
We have all been alarmed by the sharp increase in coronavirus cases in recent days. We have all heard heart-breaking stories from friends or family members who have struggled to get a Covid test. The anxiety we all felt at the start of this pandemic is returning. People are scared about what the next few months might bring, how the virus can be contained, how our economy can be protected and jobs can be saved. Our focus – the Government’s focus – must be on this.
I want ministers to be fixing the test, track and isolate system. I want to see a plan for how we can protect our care homes from a second wave, support families who are worried about their jobs and make sure children can still get the education they need. Those are my priorities. The priorities of the British people. We should be getting on with defeating this virus, not banging on about Europe.
Get on with Brexit and defeat the virus. That should be the Government’s mantra.
Labour is prepared to play its part in making that happen. If the Government fixes the substantial cross-party concerns that have been raised about the Internal Market Bill, then we are prepared to back it. But if they do not, and the talk collapse, then it is their failure and incompetence that will have let the British people down.
Sir Keir Starmer is the leader of the Labour Party