Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson is 'all over the place' on Brexit

14 September 2020, 09:24 | Updated: 14 September 2020, 14:18

Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson is 'all over the place' on Brexit

By Megan White

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson is "all over the place" on Brexit and needs to "go back to the drawing board" over his controversial legislation.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari during Call Keir, Sir Keir said the Labour Party “will not go along with breaking international law” and said the Prime Minister should "get on with" finalising the Brexit deal.

The bill, which returns to the Commons on Monday, has garnered growing criticism after it was revealed it could break international law.

Read more: David Cameron expresses 'misgivings' over Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit bill

The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure to back down on plans to override elements of his own Withdrawal Agreement, with former leaders calling on Tory rebels to vote his bill down.

Asked who he thought was right over the legislation, Boris Johnson or Tony Blair, Sir Keir said: “Boris Johnson is all over the place.

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“Here he is, he’s signed a deal, either he even knew what he was signing, in which case how has he gotten himself into this position, or he didn’t know, and I think that’s probably even worse.

“It’s interesting you say we’re just back – I think the vast majority of the population would say what on earth is going on?

“You’re reopening things that we thought were closed, you said you’d get a deal, I don’t think that the outstanding issues can’t be resolved.

“My message to Boris Johnson is get on with it and actually focus on what most people are talking about this morning, which is how on earth do we defeat and deal with this pandemic – that’s what’s on people’s minds.

“They thought this was over, he’s reopening it, I think the nation would say to Boris Johnson get on with this, stop this, you’re wrong.”

When quizzed on whether the Labour Party was in part supporting Mr Johnson's position, the Labour leader said: "We are supporting the Prime Minister getting a deal, a deal is in the national interest.

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"He's making a mistake reneging on a treaty, that will have reputational damage for the UK.

"Here we are, on the world stage, for the first time in many years on our own, and what's the first thing we do? We break a treaty.

"It's basic stuff - if you say to other nations we agree something and then a few months later say we don't, the chances are they're not going to trust you going forward."

Sir Keir said we "do need legislation on an internal market," and said Labour would support that if the Government "took away the problems and didn't breach international law."

He added: "I'd say to the Prime Minister look, go away, go back to the drawing board, drop these problems, don't act in this reckless and wrong way, and we'll look again at the legislation."

The Labour leader's comments came after former Prime Minister David Cameron expressed "misgivings" over the bill.

The former Conservative leader said: "Passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate.

"It should be an absolute final resort.

"So, I do have misgivings about what's being proposed."

He added: "But, I would just make this point.

"So far what's happened is the Government has proposed a law that it might pass, or might not pass, or might use, or might not use depending on whether ... certain circumstances do, or do not appear.

Mr Cameron added: "And, of course, the bigger picture here is that we are in a vital negotiation with the European Union to get a deal and I think we have to keep that context, that big prize in mind.

"And that's why I have perhaps held back from saying more up to now."

Outrage at the Bill has come from across the political spectrum, including from Conservative former prime ministers Theresa May, Sir John Major and Lord Howard.

Sir John and fellow former PM Tony Blair united to urge MPs to reject the "shaming" legislation, saying it imperils the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK's integrity.