Brexit: PM will fail on election promise if there is No Deal, Starmer says

11 December 2020, 21:11

The Labour leader said it would be a “complete failure of statecraft" if there was no deal.
The Labour leader said it would be a “complete failure of statecraft" if there was no deal. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Boris Johnson will “fail on the only” promise he made at the last election if there is a No Deal Brexit, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Using the PM’s own words against him, the Labour leader said it would be a “complete failure of statecraft, particularly from a PM who told us there was absolutely no chance of a No Deal Brexit”.

During a visit to Dublin in September 2019, Mr Johnson said No Deal would be a failure of statecraft "for which we would all be responsible".

Mr Starmer’s comments come after the Prime Minister said on Thursday that it is “very, very likely” that the UK will fail to strike a post-Brexit deal with the European Union.

Speaking from Blyth in Northumberland, the Prime Minister commented: "From where I stand now... it is looking very, very likely that we will have to go for a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK, and we'd be able to do exactly what we want from January 1.

“It obviously would be different from what we'd set out to achieve but I have no doubt this country can get ready and, as I say, come out on World Trade terms."

Read more: Foreign Secretary plays down suggestions port delays caused by Brexit

Labour have criticised the Conservatives for attempting to “dress up” a No Deal as an “Australian-style agreement”.

"There's no point dressing it up as an Australian deal. You might as well call it a Mongolian deal,” Sir Keir said.

Locking onto the PM’s “get Brexit done” 2019 election message, he told the Mirror: "This is the PM who made one promise to the British people going into that election, that he would get Brexit done.

"It looks like he's going to fail on the only promise he has made to the British people."

During a visit to Dublin in September 2019 as he was working to secure a Withdrawal Agreement, Mr Johnson said No Deal would be a failure of statecraft "for which we would all be responsible".

Read more: Government '90 per cent of the way' to securing Brexit deal, Culture Secretary tells LBC

Earlier on Friday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told LBC that the Government is "90 percent of the way" to securing a deal.

Amidst reports that Labour is split over whether to vote for a deal or abstain, Mr Starmer said: "We haven't got a deal yet... But if it is a straight choice between a deal and no deal then I'm in no doubt that a deal is in the national interest."

However, whether any deal will be agreed ahead of the end of the transition period, on 31 December, remains to be seen.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of a two-day European Council summit in Brussels, Mrs von der Leyen said: "I briefed the leaders on the negotiations with the United Kingdom: positions remain apart on fundamental issues.

"On the level-playing field, we have repeatedly made clear to our UK partners that the principle of fair competition is a pre-condition to privileged access to the EU market.

Read more: Congestion at UK ports 'out of control' ahead of Brexit

Read more: MPs' pay frozen after backlash over proposed £3,000 hike

"It is the largest single market in the world and it is only fair that competitors to our own enterprises face the same conditions on our own market.

"But, this is not to say that we would require the UK to follow us every time we decide to raise our level of ambition, for example in the environmental field.

"They would remain free, sovereign if you wish, to decide what they want to do. We would simply adapt the conditions for access to our market according to the decision of the United Kingdom, and this would apply vice versa."