The Labour Party, under Keir Starmer, are so committed to trying to convince people they have moved on from Brexit, they have still not taken time to actually understand what it is people want from an independent UK. As a result, we are left with a muddled message and a public devoid of a real opposition to voice the very serious concerns which exist in our current relationship with the EU, argues Jayne Adye, Director of Get Britain Out.

As the Party Conference Season has now wrapped up, the now familiar Conservative messages of 'Levelling up', 'Build Back Better' and 'Getting Brexit Done' rang around the Manchester Central Convention Complex. While the Conservative Party have well and truly embraced Brexit – even if the deal currently in force is far from perfect – voters of all parties have no doubt where the party stands on the issue. The same however, cannot be said for the Labour Party.

Last week at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, a great deal of effort was put into trying to convince the public to move on, and forget the events of the last six years – including Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and the battle for Brexit. A key pillar of these efforts was a clear statement from the new Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves: "People have voted to leave the EU and we need to move on." A bold statement and one many were undoubtedly happy to hear, considering Labour supported a second referendum at the 2019 General Election, when Keir Starmer – then the Shadow Brexit Secretary – was the architect of Labour's policy.

However, it seems the Labour Party front bench still do not understand what it actually means to move on from Brexit. In the days before Rachel Reeves made her statement, we saw the Shadow Justice Secretary, David Lammy, claim Labour would have to "fix" the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. However, rather than talk about vital issues which desperately need fixing, such as the Northern Ireland Protocol and our fisheries, Mr Lammy instead bemoaned the ending of free movement and the reduction in cheaper imported labour from Europe.

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On top of this, despite the clear facts showing Brexit is not the root cause of the current HGV driver shortage (which has been brewing for decades and is also hitting EU Member States), Keir Starmer decided to demand the Government issue 100,000 emergency visas to European HGV drivers to come in and work in the UK – and who knows where they would live? This is a demand which again shows no regard for the underlying problems facing the UK haulage industry which predate Brexit, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about what moving on from Brexit really means.

There was no mention of the fact European HGV drivers have shown no interest in coming to the UK to take up any temporary visas, most probably because drivers are in high demand in their own home countries. Trying to open up the borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants would not fix this problem, and would simply be an ineffective temporary plaster. Instead, the Labour Party – and the Government – should be addressing the real issues and understanding how we can use this country's exit from the EU as an opportunity to make meaningful change.

Time and again on the issue of Brexit, the Labour Party says one thing, yet their actions demonstrate something entirely different. At a time when the Government's failings on Brexit are so clear, there has never been a better opportunity for the Labour Party to show they have understood what Brexit means and to push the Government into delivering a proper Brexit which delivers for people in this country.

Instead of principled arguments about fighting for increased wages; securing the integrity of the United Kingdom; increasing our energy independence; and protecting job security in this country by using powers reclaimed from the EU, we see a Labour Party floundering and refusing to let go of the arguments of the past. If the Labour Party has any desire to win back the votes they lost in the North at the last General Election – as well as attracting new voters – they must really start listening and not just acting as if they always know better than the voters they are supposed to represent.

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