A LABOUR by-election candidate who previously quit the party over its Brexit stance has said rejoining the EU is “not a question for just now”.

Michael Shanks, the party’s candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said he would back reversing Brexit if there was a public appetite for a rethink.

The 35-year-old previously quit Labour in 2019 describing its approach to EU membership as “bankrupt”.

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Shanks has previously been criticised for saying he would vote against Labour leader Keir Starmer on the two-child benefit cap and other issues.

But now, the Westminster by-election candidate, who was previously at the heart of claims of a “stitch up” over the selection for the race to become an MP, has tried to yet again distance himself from Starmer.

Starmer has said that the party’s stance is now to make Brexit work, rather than to seek to rejoin the bloc.

In an interview with the Daily Record, Shanks said he still “believes in the European project”.

The National: Shanks previously quit Labour in 2019Shanks previously quit Labour in 2019 (Image: Colin Mearns)

The modern studies teacher said he supported a closer relationship with the bloc, adding: “I think that's the natural point that we are at already.

“Even the Conservatives have reluctantly accepted that that's the only way forward.

“So absolutely, we must have a closer relationship. In so many ways, it just makes logical sense.”

However, when asked if he would like the UK to rejoin the EU one day, he said: “I think it's not a question for just now, but I still see the UK as having a place in the European Union.

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"So yes, if it got to a point where there was clearly a public appetite for the conversation again, I wouldn't be against us rejoining the European Union. Of course not.

“Because I have not changed my principles or the idea that the European project is good for all of us.”

Shanks added that having the conversation around rejoining the EU becomes a “distraction” from making “what we’ve got work just now”.

The National: Katy Loudon is the SNP candidate for the by-electionKaty Loudon is the SNP candidate for the by-election (Image: Colin Mearns)

In the Brexit referendum, 62% of Scots voted for the UK to remain in the EU.

When he quit Labour in 2019, Shanks blasted the party leadership under Jeremy Corbyn and said it was “impossible” to reconcile the state the party was in with its “core values”.

“A party that has such a bankrupt approach to our membership of the EU and is complacent about the impact it will have on the poorest people across the UK does not share those values,” he wrote in a lengthy blog post announcing he had resigned his membership.

“A party that has been woefully inadequate in tackling antisemitism time and time and time again does not have those values at its core.

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“And aside from all that, it’s a party that seems oblivious to how utterly unelectable it has become.”

After Shanks claimed he would vote against Starmer on a number of issues, First Minister Humza Yousaf rubbished the claims - and pointed out that Starmer would have to vote on the issue for the MP-hopeful to vote against the issue, something the Labour leader had repeatedly ruled out.

We told how SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn hit out at Labour’s “entitlement” as he joined the campaign trail with SNP candidate and local councillor Katy Loudon in Cambuslang.