Theresa May says Sir Keir Starmer should have voted for her 'better' Brexit deal

30 December 2020, 13:17 | Updated: 30 December 2020, 13:56

Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons
Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Theresa May has criticised Sir Keir Starmer for not voting for her Brexit deal after the Labour leader said Boris Johnson’s agreement was “thin”.

The former prime minster told the Commons she had listened “with some incredulity” to Sir Keir’s assessment of Mr Johnson's agreement.

“He said he wanted a better deal,” she said. “He had the opportunity in early 2019 when there was the opportunity of a better deal on the table and he voted against it, so I will take no lectures from the leader of the opposition on this deal.”

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Mrs May added during Wednesday’s Brexit debate: “Today is the time, as I have said before, to put aside personal and party political interests which sadly too many have followed in the past, vote in the national interest of the whole UK and support this bill.”

Speaking after the Prime Minister had introduced the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill, Sir Keir said the "thin deal" had "many flaws" and insisted he would have negotiated a “better” agreement.

He went on to warn British businesses will face "an avalanche of checks" under the deal.

But he said supporting the agreement was better than a no-deal scenario and there was "no better deal coming in the next 24 hours", as he issued a warning about the consequences of not supporting legislation.

He said: "When the default is no deal it's not a mark of how pro-European you are to reject implementing this treaty.

"It isn't in the national interest to duck a question or to hide in the knowledge that others will save you from the consequences of your own vote.

"This is a simple vote with a simple choice: do we leave the transition period with the treaty negotiated with the EU or do we leave with no deal?

"And so Labour will vote to implement this treaty today.”

However these orders are not universally supported among his MPs, with some expected to vote against the bill later today.