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Sir Keir Starmer says work is under way for closer ties with EU and to fix UK’s ‘botched’ Brexit deal | Politics News

Labour is already working to build closer ties with the European Union, Sir Keir Starmer has said as he continues his tour of the UK.

The new prime minister has been on a visit to Scotland today where he has met with both the leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar and First Minister John Swinney.

Following the meeting with Mr Swinney, Sir Keir spoke to broadcasters and talked down the likelihood of any negotiations on independence.

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The SNP lost the vast majority of their seats in last week’s election.

Sir Keir added that he took the opportunity to “reset relations” with the first and deputy first ministers.

He conceded there were “clearly differences of opinion” between them on constitutional matters, but the meeting was still constructive.

Mr Swinney repeated his claim that his party losing 39 of their 48 seats did not equate to a removal of their mandate for independence.

But he did say the party intends to focus on issues like economic growth, child poverty, public services and net zero ahead of securing independence.

Sir Keir travelled to Northern Ireland later on Sunday, and will be meeting with the first minister, deputy first minister and opposition leaders on Monday.

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer meeting First Minister of Scotland John Swinney at Bute House, Edinburgh, during the PM's tour of the UK following Labour's victory in the 2024 General Election. Picture date: Sunday July 7, 2024.
Image:
Sir Keir and Scotland First Minister John Swinney. Pic: PA

A ‘botched’ Brexit deal

While on the visit to Scotland, Sir Keir went on the offensive over the way Boris Johnson negotiated the initial Brexit deal with the European Union – describing it as “botched”.

The new prime minister said he wants to have a closer relationship with Brussels.

Sir Keir said: “We intend to improve our relationship with the EU and that means closer trading ties with the EU, it means closer ties in relation to research and development and closer ties in relation to defence and security.

“Obviously, there are many discussions to be had and negotiations to be had.

“But I do think that we can get a much better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson saddled the UK with.”

He said any agreement depends on “respectful relationships, talking to leaders across the EU and of course that work has already begun”.

The Conservatives used Labour’s softer stance on Brexit as an attack line during the election campaign.

There still remains myriad issues with the current post-Brexit agreements.

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Industry figures were raising concerns during the election about the bureaucracy they faced transporting goods to and from Europe.

And despite the Windsor Framework agreed by Rishi Sunak last year, there are still questions about how the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland operates.

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