Forget 'arguments of the past,' UK's Labour sets out Brexit plan

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition leader will on Monday set out his plan to make Brexit work, telling his Labour Party it was time to forget "arguments of the past" and that, if in power, he would not want to reverse Britain's divorce from the European Union.

A former opponent of Brexit, Labour leader Keir Starmer will hope to end lingering debate in the party about the merits of leaving the EU. Instead, he will set out a policy aimed at fixing trade difficulties that have emerged and winning back the European Union's confidence in Britain.

In one of his first major policy speeches on the issue, Starmer will say that the party would eliminate border checks and other barriers while encouraging investment in Northern Ireland, where trade has been disrupted by the terms of Brexit.

"Let me be very clear: with Labour, Britain will not go back into the EU. We will not be joining the single market. We will not be joining a customs union," he will say, according to excerpts, provided by his office, from a speech he will deliver at the Centre for European Reform think tank.

Britain's 2016 referendum on British membership split political parties, with Labour largely backing a vote to stay in the EU but then adopting a hybrid position where it accepted its outcome but called for another public vote.

In recognition of the popularity of Brexit among some Labour voters, the speech will attempt to quell voices in the party who have said a Labour government would press for returning to the bloc.

One of his main policy priorities was to "sort out" the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, part of the Brexit agreement negotiated by the Conservative government, which deals with trade between the British province and EU-member Ireland to the south while avoiding a hard border between the two.

Britain's governing Conservatives have introduced new legislation to unilaterally change part of the protocol, which London says has created tension in Northern Ireland.

The EU, in response, has launched legal proceedings against Britain.

"We will be the honest broker our countries need. We will get the protocol working and we will make it the springboard to securing a better deal for the British people," Starmer will say.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)