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Boris Johnson says he would prefer a Canada style trade agreement with the EU and his negotiator, David Frost, says the UK is open to an Australia-style deal.

Canada first opened talks with the European Commission to seek a trade deal in 1975. But the final deal was not signed until 2018.

But Canada is to put it politely a bit further from Europe than Britain, a European island state, is.

There are not thousands of lorries arriving each day from Canada or Australia into Britain with 80 per cent of the food we eat.  There are not 73 million flights a year to Canada or Australia with British citizens who have free health and hospital care when they arrive as they do in Europe.

Canada and Australia do not have Japanese automobile plants making cars which can be sold to any of the EU’s 450 million customers without let or hindrance. Canadian and Australian fishing boats to not share the same waters as British fishermen, nor do they sell 60 per of all their catch to Europe.

In short, saying the UK can look to Canada or Australia as a model for its future trade relationship with Europe is comparing apples and oranges.

Brexit was not done on 31st January, will not get done this year and is going to last a very long time indeed.

Australia is even further away from the UK than Canada. Australia and New Zealand have been trying since 1921 to negotiate a trade deal on importing apples from New Zealand which Australian apple producers object and lobby their MPs to block.

It is borderline infantile to use Canada or Australia as serious examples of what the UK can negotiate with the EU27.

By Denis MacShane - former Labour Minister of Europe. His latest book is “Brexiternty. The Uncertain Fate of Britain” (IB Tauris-Bloomsbury)

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The UK Is Not Canada

Boris Johnson says he would prefer a Canada style trade agreement with the EU and his negotiator, David Frost, says the UK is open to an Australia-style deal.

It’s pretty clear that Keir Starmer is determined not to be outflanked on the left by Rebecca Long-Bailey. That was my firm conclusion from attending one of his campaign meetings last week.

By and large, I liked what I heard - especially his answer to a question from a member of Labour Business who complained that Labour’s December manifesto had nothing to say to business.

But I came away worried – not about Starmer but for Starmer.

My concern is that control of the party is still in the hands of people strongly opposed to him, notably Karie Murphy, who ran the General election campaign, Seamus Milne, Executive Director of Strategy and Communications and Jon Lansman, NEC chair.

The allegation of a breach of data rules by the Starmer campaign have their fingerprints all over it. There’s speculation that it might be the prelude to a Stop Starmer procedural ploy. I only hope those contemplating such a move realise they’d be taking on one of the country’s top lawyers.

Key question – assuming Starmer is victorious, would he be able to sack Murphy and Milne? On the face of it, he ought to have Long-Bailey’s backing. She has pledged to "professionalise" the party. “Promotion would be based on what you know, not who you know", she says.

If Starmer needed more ammunition he would consult the thoughtful former MP Alan Simpson. I’m a fan of Simpson, who is green and a Europhile. A former flatmate of Jeremy Corbyn, he is nonetheless scathing about what he calls the “corridor cabal” of top aides who sabotaged Labour’s election campaign. He lays the blame on a small band, including Milne and Murphy for organisational chaos and for “suffocating” the leader.

In a submission to an independent review into the election disaster, Simpson says “Jeremy will inevitably carry much of the blame.

“But Labour’s deeper problems lie more in the cadre of senior advisers surrounding Corbyn. None should be allowed within a million miles of Labour’s rebuilding.

“People who’d never negotiated anything more than an extended tea-break were left in charge of the policy sifting process.”

Simpson accuses the leader’s closest aides of “catastrophic misjudgement and ill-focused organisation” and an “obsession” with controlling both the leader and his message.

A great deal will depend on the scale of a Starmer victory. The yardstick will be the Corbyn margin in 2016 when he thrashed Owen Smith by 313,000 to 193,000.  But look a little closer and you find that more than 20% of the membership -- more than 100,000 -- sat out the contest, leaving Corbyn with a bare majority of eligible voters backing him.

Corbynite control actually rests on elections to the NEC where turnout was far lower. It took fewer than 70,000 to elect Jon Lansman and two other Momentum backed candidates.

NEC elections are taking place alongside the leadership elections. Starmer must hope that his campaign will create a bandwagon that carries his supporters into power at the top of the party.

By Don Brind - Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer & Former BBC political correspondent

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Can Starmer Win Big Enough To Take Control Of The Party?

It’s pretty clear that Keir Starmer is determined not to be outflanked on the left by Rebecca Long-Bailey. That was my firm conclusion from attending one of his campaign meetings...

One of the most striking failures of the Labour campaign last December was any attempt to rebut or counter Johnson’s “Get Brexit done” sound bite. The leadership’s approach seemed to be to avoid the issue to campaign on bread and butter issues. 

Should that be the approach adopted by the new leadership now Labour is on the sidelines, at the wrong end of an 80 Commons majority, or should we seek to offer a robust commentary on Johnson’s conduct of negotiations with the EU? To do that we would need to develop our own sound bites. 

I think there are three reasons for having a strong line.

Firstly to seek to influence the outcome, thwarting the more dangerous and destructive consequence of the Johnson confrontational approach. 

Secondly, it will help us to get an audience from the media, especially the broadcasters who will, otherwise, be tempted to treat Labour as irrelevant. 

There is every chance that the new leader will get a bounce, possibly having better personal ratings than Johnson and bringing the party closer to parity in the polls with the Tories. To appear to be ducking Brexit will diminish that effect. 

Thirdly, it will help us to make sure the Tories own the downsides of any Brexit deal they do. 

So, what should we be saying? Here are some first thoughts.

We have to preface everything we say with an acceptance that Brexit is going to happen. That also means eschewing a policy many party members would support of going into the next general election advocating rejoining the EU. 

We should say that “We support a Fair and Family-Friendly Brexit”. The subtext to that is our test of any proposed deal is whether it protects jobs and living standards and is in the interests of British families and businesses. 

We should say “we oppose a wrecker’s Brexit”, condemning any proposal or demand that hurts business and families in the pursuit of some illusory future deal with the US and others. 

We should have a consistent line when companies cut jobs and investment on the explicit grounds that they were forced to do so by Brexit. My suggested sound bite is “1,000 job losses – Undone by Brexit.” 

As with Johnson and his sound bite, the key is repetition.  It’s a lesson Labour need to learn. We used to be good at it.

By Don Brind - Labour Movement for Europe Press Officer & Former BBC political correspondent

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What Should Labour's Brexit Message Be Now?

One of the most striking failures of the Labour campaign last December was any attempt to rebut or counter Johnson’s “Get Brexit done” sound bite. The leadership’s approach seemed to be...

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