Labor Leader Sir Keir Starmer has promised to negotiate a "better" Brexit deal saying the agreement delivered by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- after years of delays -- was too narrow. File Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE
Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Keir Starmer, leader of Britain's opposition Labor Party, pledged to renegotiate the deal struck by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Brussels that took the country out of the European Union at the end of 2020.
Speaking at the Global Progress Action Summit in Montreal on Sunday, Starmer said he would seek a far better deal when it is reviewed in 2025 as Johnson's Brexit agreement was "too thin," but ruled out rejoining or entering the customs union or the single market of the 27-country bloc.
"Almost everyone recognizes the deal Johnson struck is not a good deal -- it's too thin. As we go into 2025 we will attempt to get a much better deal for the U.K.," Starmer told the Financial Times.
"I do think we can have a closer trading relationship as well. That's subject to discussion."
Saying he was motivated by the futures of the younger generation, he said Britain had "to make it work."
"That's not a question of going back in, but I refuse to accept that we can't make it work," he said.
Johnson's EU-U.K. Trade and Co-operation Agreement signed in December 2020, has a clause mandating a joint review of its implementation every five years.
The ruling Conservatives accused Starmer of a U-turn after he had pledged not to try to reverse or amend Brexit.
"Three years ago he promised he wouldn't seek major changes to the U.K.'s new relationship with the EU, but now his latest short-term position is that he will," a spokesperson for the party said.
"What price would Keir Starmer be prepared to pay to the EU for renegotiating our relationship?"
In raising his international profile as a leader ahead of a general election that must be held before the end of 2024, Starmer has in recent weeks been increasingly vocal on the need to improve ties with Brussels.
His comments in Canada follow a visit to Europol in the Hague on Thursday for discussions on how to tackle the tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving on Britain's shores in small boats -- more than 45,000 in 2022.
Starmer is due to travel to Paris on Tuesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron for the second time in under 10 days with post-Brexit ties high on the agenda. The pair last met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi held 9-10 September.