Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for rejecting Boris Johnson’s EU deal soon after it was announced yesterday – almost half an hour before the details were revealed.
The Labour leader, who has repeatedly promised to deliver the people’s wishes on Brexit, claimed the deal ‘should be rejected’ shortly after Mr Johnson revealed that an agreement had been reached.
He described it as a ‘sell-out deal’ – even though the legal text of the withdrawal deal was not actually published for another 26 minutes.
Mr Corbyn also confirmed he would support a referendum on the deal before it comes into effect – a proposition that would delay Britain’s leaving date further.
At 10.51am, Corbyn is quoted on the PA news service flatly rejecting the new deal. Then at 11.17am the text of the agreement is emailed out by No10 (he is pictured during an interview with Sky News)
Secretary Sir Keir Starmer (pictured in Parliament today) also dismissed the deal, saying it ‘paves the way for a decade of deregulation’
Conservative MPs said it was astonishing that Labour had rejected the deal before having had a chance to digest it.
The Labour leader made a point of claiming the proposals risked ‘triggering a race to the bottom’ with regard to workers’ rights and environmental protections.
But when the deal was published almost 30 minutes later, it stated that Britain was committed to ‘maintaining ‘environmental, social and employment standards at the current high levels’.
Paul Scully, Conservative deputy chairman, said: ‘It beggars belief Corbyn rejected the deal before he’d even read it.
‘It shows he has no intention of keeping his promises to respect the referendum, and would only inflict yet more dither and pointless delay on the country.
‘He is wholly incapable of making the decisions needed to take Britain forward.’
The Prime Minister announced at 10.22am yesterday that a ‘great new’ Brexit agreement had been reached with the EU.
At 10.51am, Mr Corbyn was asked for his view – and revealed that his party would not be supporting Mr Johnson’s withdrawal agreement.
He said: ‘From what we know, it seems the Prime Minister has negotiated an even worse deal than Theresa May’s, which was overwhelmingly rejected.’
But the actual legal text of the deal was not published until 11.17am – well after Mr Corbyn had dismissed it out of hand.
Mr Johnson speaks at a joint press conference with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (not pictured) at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels
Despite apparently not knowing the details, he added: ‘These proposals risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections – putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover by US private corporations.
‘This sell-out deal won’t bring the country together and should be rejected. The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote.’
‘From what we’ve read of this deal, it doesn’t meet our demands or expectations, it creates a border down the Irish Sea and it leads once again to a race to the bottom in rights and protections for British citizens and a danger of the sell-off of our national assets to American companies.’
Asked whether he had given up on his plan to negotiate a Labour Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn replied: ‘Not at all. A Labour government elected in a general election would within three months negotiate an agreement with the EU… and then within six months we would put that to a referendum.’
Tory MP Michael Fabricant said: ‘Corbyn is seriously misreading the view of the British public who want Brexit done.
‘He knows he is the most unpopular Opposition leader since records began in the Seventies. Maybe he thinks it can’t get any worse. It can. His immediate condemnation of the deal reveals him in an even clearer light.’ Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer also dismissed the deal, saying it ‘paves the way for a decade of deregulation’. He argued it would give the Government a ‘licence to slash’ worker, environment and consumer protections.
Sir Keir added: ‘If Boris Johnson has confidence in his deal, he should put it back to the people in a public vote against Remain.’
Tony Lloyd, the party’s Northern Ireland spokesman, said Labour MPs were ‘almost bound’ to vote for holding a referendum if Mr Johnson found a majority to support his deal.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that even though Labour would ‘prefer a general election’, it was ‘consistent’ with party policy that MPs would back holding a confirmatory vote on the freshly inked Brexit deal.
Jeremy Corbyn has behaved like a spiv trying to welch on a bet, says Theresa May’s ex-communications boss SIR ROBBIE GIBB
By Sir Robbie Gibb for the Daily Mail
Of all the descriptions often attributed to Jeremy Corbyn, being a mind-reader is not one. And yet before the Prime Minister’s new Brexit deal was published yesterday, the Labour leader definitively declared that he couldn’t support it.
There are two possible explanations for this.
Either Corbyn is a sage who managed to deduce the contents of the unpublished 64-page document.
Or, he jumped in without waiting to read the first page.
Having seen first-hand the shameless speed with which Corbyn can denounce a deal, forgive me if I lean towards the second possibility.
Over the past three years, there has been little about Corbyn’s handling of Brexit to suggest he has any inclination to prioritise the Brexit referendum result over the demands of Labour’s own internal party politics. So much for the man who’s party went into the last general election with a manifesto which clearly stated: ‘Labour accepts the referendum result and a Labour government will put the national interest first.’
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn talks to the media as he arrives to attend a pre-council meeting of the Party of European Socialists at Albert Hall in Brussels on Thursday
Faced with a growing Remainer insurgency along his front bench, Corbyn has also ditched his own Eurosceptic beliefs.
Whether, therefore, Corbyn has tried to scupper every attempt to deliver Brexit out of political cowardice or shameless cynicism scarcely matters.
And while Boris Johnson has staked everything – not least his own reputation and premiership – on making good on that promise, the Labour leader has behaved like a slopey-shouldered spiv trying to welch on a bet. As his actions demonstrated yesterday, Corbyn isn’t one to spend time reading important documents.
But should he ever start, he could do no worse than begin at page 24 of Labour’s own 2017 manifesto.
Time and again, Corbyn has shown how those key five words – ‘Labour accepts the referendum result’ – aren’t worth the paper they were printed on.
Under his leadership, Labour MPs opted to trigger Article 50 and set the two-year clock running on Brexit negotiations, but subsequently voted on 34 separate occasions in the Commons to block Brexit legislation.
Even when we were trying to broker a deal with Labour to break the Parliamentary deadlock, I remember how their delegation failed to take the matter at hand seriously. I will never forget one particularly farcical moment in April when, during crunch talks with Labour to get Theresa’s May’s deal through, the party’s Brexit spokesman, Sir Keir Starmer, condemned a document we had just given him – even though it had been copied and pasted from his own proposals!
At another point, Corbyn’s deputy, John McDonnell, suddenly raised the issue of a Second Referendum.
I was surprised. At the time, McDonnell had no great love for the Remainer rump of his party.
‘I said I’d raise it,’ he explained matter-of-factly, ‘and I’ve raised it.’ It was a bizarre outburst – though one that now explains why Corbyn’s self-serving game-playing over Brexit is coming home to roost.
At another point, Corbyn’s deputy, John McDonnell (pictured alongside Sajid Javid), suddenly raised the issue of a Second Referendum
Held captive by Labour’s hardcore Remainer membership, he has been backed into a cul-de-sac of support for a second referendum.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has never deviated from the course he set – to take Britain out of Europe on October 31, ‘do or die’.
He has gambled everything on this promise and it seems to have paid off.
Indeed, it means that, tomorrow, there is a clear choice for MPs: back this deal or leave without a deal in less than two weeks’ time.
There are, of course, a handful of honourable former Labour MPs, such as John Mann and Iain Austin, who will do their duty and honour the referendum result.
There are also decent, moderate Labour MPs, such as Caroline Flint, who voted Remain but have since stated resolutely that Brexit must be delivered.
Tomorrow, other Labour MPs would do well to follow their lead.
Now is the time for our politicians to break free from this appalling Parliamentary paralysis, to live up to their promises to voters and get Brexit done.
If Jeremy Corbyn continues to put the brakes on Brexit, it could plunge Britain into an almighty crash.
Sir Robbie Gibb was Theresa May’s director of communications
A boost for workers’ rights that could win Labour round: Boris Johnson pledges set ‘highest possible standards’ into LAW – despite Jeremy Corbyn saying deal is a ‘race to the bottom’
By Daniel Martin for the Daily Mail
Moderate Labour MPs could be persuaded to back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal after he offered a series of sweeteners on workers’ rights.
Speaking in Brussels last night, Boris Johnson said he would ‘gladly’ make a commitment to maintain the ‘highest possible standards’ on environmental and social protections.
And the Daily Mail understands that Downing Street is now offering to write them into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make them legally binding.
Behind-the-scenes talks have already taken place with rebel Labour MPs, led by Stephen Kinnock, who has previously said he would support a deal which honoured the referendum result.
Behind-the-scenes talks have already taken place with rebel Labour MPs, led by Stephen Kinnock (left), who has previously said he would support a deal which honoured the referendum result. Ruth Smeeth (right) yesterday said it was her ‘intention to vote for a deal’ unless rights were ‘undermined’ by the deal
Jeremy Corbyn made clear yesterday that he wanted Labour MPs to vote against the revised withdrawal agreement, saying it would lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ on workers’ rights.
The party has not said whether MPs who defy him would lose the party whip. Even so, as many as ten Labour MPs are reported to be considering voting for the deal if Mr Johnson’s pledges on workers’ rights are enshrined in law.
Ruth Smeeth yesterday said it was her ‘intention to vote for a deal’ unless rights were ‘undermined’ by the deal.
Labour MPs John Mann, Sir Kevin Barron and Jim Fitzpatrick are also understood to support the agreement.
Mr Johnson will be dependent on some Labour support now that the DUP has said it will vote against the deal on ‘Super Saturday’ tomorrow.
Yesterday, the PM reached out to Labour MPs, saying: ‘It is a good text, and it gets to the heart of what we want to achieve with the EU. It does also contain important provisions and commitments that this country gladly makes about our determination to maintain the highest possible standards on environment and social protection.’
The agreement, announced yesterday morning, provides for a ‘level playing field’ on workers’ rights and environmental protection and commits Britain to ‘maintain… standards at the current high levels’.
However, the promise is part of the political agreement that sits alongside the withdrawal agreement – not the withdrawal agreement itself.
Mr Johnson (pictured alongside president of the European Comission Jean-Claude Juncker (second-from-right), Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (left) and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (right) during a press conference on the Brexit deal in Brussels) will be dependent on some Labour support now that the DUP has said it will vote against the deal on ‘Super Saturday’ tomorrow
It is understood that Downing Street is offering to write these protections into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the legislation which enacts the Brexit deal, to make them legally binding and get the Labour rebels on side.
Mr Kinnock and 18 other Labour MPs wrote to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this month, declaring that they ‘wish to see the British EU referendum result honoured without further delay’.
One of the signatories told Huffington Post that around ten Labour MPs are now in the mood to vote for ‘any deal’.
On Wednesday night Mr Kinnock suggested that he could support the Brexit deal.
Speaking to Robert Peston on ITV, the MP was asked if he would back the deal. He said: ‘Yes, if the text meets Labour’s six tests… The level playing field is absolutely crucial.’
Yesterday Mrs Smeeth said: ‘It is my intention to vote for a deal unless Boris has completely undermined workers’ rights, environmental rights and consumer rights.’
Mr Mann said: ‘I will vote for this deal… We voted to leave, and I’m happier to leave with a deal that gives stability for businesses and jobs in this country, that’s what a deal does… I think the deal will get through.’
Another Labour backbencher told the Huffington Post he would consider voting for Mr Johnson’s deal if it enshrined workers’ rights. ‘If Boris can write all these things on to the face of a Bill, and bring that Bill forward pronto, we can vote for it,’ he said.
Labour MP Graham Stringer, who campaigned for Brexit, said he would back the Bill if it is ‘genuinely deal or No Deal’.
Despite the Prime Minister’s pledges Mr Corbyn said he would not support the deal. ‘These proposals risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections: putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover,’ he said.