THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2019
JEREMY CORBYN dismissed Boris Johnson’s new EU withdrawal agreement today as “even worse” than his predecessor Theresa May’s thrice-rejected deal.
The Labour leader described the last-minute agreement between the British government and the EU as a “sell-out.”
Following days of talks, the Prime Minister announced that a withdrawal agreement had been finalised with Brussels as he headed to a two-day summit of EU leaders.
He said the deal would replace the “anti-democratic” backstop, which was a key reason for Ms May’s deal being repeatedly rejected by MPs, with the north of Ireland remaining aligned to some EU rules to avoid a hard border with the republic.
The new agreement states that this alignment would apply to goods, sanitary measures for animals, VAT and state aid rules.
It adds: “The people of Northern Ireland will be in charge of the laws that they live by and, unlike the backstop, will have the right to end the special arrangement if they so choose.”
But Mr Corbyn warned that the new arrangements would not offer “complete freedom of movement between Britain and Ireland.
“As it stands, we cannot support this deal,” he added.
“Also, it is unclear whether it has the support of [Mr Johnson’s] allies in the DUP or indeed many of his allies on his own back benches.”
The Labour leader confirmed that he now supports a second referendum.
“The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote,” Mr Corbyn said.
Tomorrow, MPs will hold the first parliamentary session on a Saturday since 1982.
Mr Johnson will struggle to get his agreement approved because Labour, the DUP, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Greens and some of the 21 MPs who lost the Conservative Party whip after voting to block a no-deal Brexit are likely to vote against it.
Mr Johnson would by law have to seek an extension to Article 50 if MPs do not agree to his deal by end of play on Saturday.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he saw no reason for an extension if the current deal is rejected, insisting: “If we have a deal, we have a deal. There is no need for prolongation.”
Although around 20 Labour MPs have previously said that they would vote for a Brexit deal, it is not known yet how many of them will endorse this latest version.
Ronnie Campbell, the Labour MP for Blyth Valley, said he was “minded to vote for the deal.”
“I’ve been a Leaver for 30 years and I, like lots of people, am just fed up of all this delay,” he said.
“Let’s just get it done and dusted.”
Ruth Smeeth also said it was her “intention to vote for a deal.”
The Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North & Kidsgrove represents a constituency that voted to leave the EU by more than 70 per cent in 2016.
However, Gloria de Piero, the Labour MP for Ashford, said: “Like the majority of the UK (and in line with the Labour manifesto I was elected on) I want to leave the EU with a deal.
“At no point have I said I will back the Boris Johnson deal and the more details that emerge about it, the less likely I am to vote for it.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said there is “nothing here [in the agreement] for any Labour MP to vote for.”
The deal would be a “huge leap backwards” by risking the integrity of workplace rights and public services, he added.
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