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Sir Keir Starmer says Labour will back Boris Johnson's Brexit deal
24 December 2020, 17:17 | Updated: 24 December 2020, 18:34
Sir Keir Starmer has said a "better Brexit deal could have been negotiated", but confirmed the Labour Party will vote for it when it is put before Parliament.
The Labour leader added that although it is a "thin agreement", he believes it is better than a no deal and accepts that this was the final chance the UK had to secure a formal arrangement with the bloc.
"It is not the deal that the Government promised - far from it," he said.
"A better deal could have been negotiated.
"But I accept that option has now gone."
He added: "At a moment of such national significance, it is not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines.
Read more: Brexit deal done
"That is why I can say today that when this deal comes before Parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it."
Sir Keir denied the suggestion the decision to vote for the deal - which he described as "thin" - was to appease large swathes of Brexit-supporting Labour voters at the last general election.
He said: "These are difficult and tough decisions.
"But in the end there is only one choice - a binary choice here.
"Either we support the deal or we support the alternative, which is no deal.
"We have always been against no deal and that is why we will vote for this deal.
"I think many people will see this as a tough but necessary decision on behalf of the Labour Party, the Labour movement and on behalf of our country."
Boris Johnson earlier declared “we’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny” after a Brexit deal was struck on Christmas Eve following months of intense talks.
Negotiators from the UK and European Union had been locked in discussions over the terms of agreement between the bloc and a newly independent Great Britain.
The deal brings to an end four years of bitter wrangling with Europe that saw off two Prime Ministers.
Parliament will be recalled on the 30th December to vote on the deal, it has been confirmed.
Mr Johnson had hailed his "oven ready" deal months ago, but a final agreement has taken longer to get onto the table ahead of the transition period coming to an end on 31 December with 'significant gaps' on several key issues.
Speaking shortly after the news was announced, Mr Johnson said that for the first time since 1973 the UK "will be an independent coastal state with full control of our waters", with the UK's share of fish in its waters rising "substantially from roughly half today to closer to two-thirds in five-and-a-half years' time".