Brexit takes center stage as Britain's election battle continues

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 01:55:34|Editor: Yamei

Photo taken on March 14, 2017 shows the "Big Ben" and the UK flag in central London, Britain. The British upper house of the Parliament passed the Brexit Bill Monday night, clearing the last hurdle for the government to trigger Brexit. (Xinhua file photo/Han Yan)

LONDON, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Britain's future in Europe dominated campaigning Tuesday with the main opposition Labour Party setting out its own vision of Brexit.

Keir Starmer, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, set out Labour's approach to Brexit, saying British voters facing a general election on June 8 have a choice of two visions.

Starmer said: "We accept that outside the EU our relationship with Europe must change. But we do not accept that Brexit has to mean whatever (Prime Minister) Theresa May says it means. We do not accept that there has to be a reckless Conservative Brexit."

Starmer said if Britain elected a Labour government it would reset the "Conservatives failing approach to Brexit".

"We will scrap the Government's Brexit White Paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that reflect Labour values and our six tests.

"Labour's White Paper will have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union as we know that is vital to protecting jobs and the economy," he said.

Starmer said the Labour Party believes in building a new relationship with the EU, not as members but as partners.

"Where jobs, the economy and retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union are our priority. Where hard-fought workplace rights and the environment are protected. Where we are an open, outward looking country. Where EU nationals living here are guaranteed their rights and can live in certainty that Brexit will not affect them," he said.

Criticising the government, Starmer added: "Theresa May has said that no deal is better than a bad deal. Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary) has said no deal is no problem. Labour are very clear that no deal is the worst possible deal."

"If Theresa May wins another 5 years in power, she will take it as a green light to side-line parliament, ignore opposition and drive through a reckless Brexit," claimed Starmer.

Prime Minister May went on the campaign trail in Wales where she said backing the Conservatives would strengthen her hand in her Brexit negotiations.

Writing Tuesday in one of the leading newspapers in Wales, the Western Mail, May she said the election was an opportunity to give Britain "the strong and stable leadership it needs to see us through Brexit and beyond".

She accused rival political parties of seeking to disrupt Britain's Brexit negotiations, "even as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us".

In her message, May said June's election was "a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, or Jeremy Corbyn (Labour leader) in Downing Street at the head of a coalition of chaos. It is a chance to cast a positive vote for the strong and stable leadership we need to deliver on the democratic will of the British people."

Carwyn Jones, the Labour leader in Wales, later described May's visit as a stunt.

The minority Liberal Democrats responded to May's message, saying a hard Brexit will mean real pain for people across Wales.

"This election is a chance to change the direction of the country and prevent a hard Brexit," said a spokesman for the party.

Meanwhile in the unelected House of Lords Tuesday, one of the Labour party peers, Lord Dubs, called for teens aged 16 and 17 to be given a vote on June 8.

He was speaking after it was announced that British people who have lived abroad for over 15 years will not be allowed a vote.

Cabinet Office spokesman Lord Young rejected the idea of lowering the voting age and said it will stay at 18.