Jack Semple, Secretary of EAMA reports that the Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has promised that the UK would have a closer relationship with the European Union than it has now, under a Labour government.
“Our most important economic relationship is with Europe,” he said, but he added that Labour welcomed the prospect of accession to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership).
“The UK has got to get back in the room. There is currently no structured dialogue with the European Union,” he said.
Lammy was speaking at the Trade Unlocked at the NEC on June 20th, a lively day-long conference for businessmen and policy-makers with three break-out areas running concurrently to discuss trade-related topics. He said he had spent 18 months building relationships in Europe and had been helped by the perception that Labour would probably form the next UK government.
Labour wanted to maintain data adequacy with the EU and believed that the UK could not “go green” on its own.
There would be no return to the EU single market or customs union, Lammy said. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently also ruled out any return of free movement of people, notably in a piece in the Daily Express.
Lammy pledged a new business advisory council and to increase diplomatic representation in countries essential to supply chains and important future economies, such as India.
Lammy was reportedly criticised for attending the conference by Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson, who said Labour’s plan was to “suck up” to Brussels. No government minister attended the conference.
The event was organised by Best for Britain, which was formed in 2017 to campaign to stop Brexit and remains in favour of close ties with the EU. The conference was supported by organisations including Make UK, British Chambers of Commerce, International Chambers of Commerce, the Trade Remedies Authority (a non-departmental body, previously part of the department for International Trade), Tech UK and EAMA. The future of the UK’s Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the EU is coming increasingly into focus. Many commentators doubt if there is an appetite in Brussels for much change to the TCA, as they are happy with the deal as it is.