Shadow Brexit Secretary: Johnson's Deal Is A Massive Step In The Wrong Direction

17 October 2019, 20:18

Boris Johnson's deal is a "massive step in the wrong direction" and is a "paving stone to a decade of deregulation," Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told Eddie Mair.

Eddie Mair asked Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer how he will stop Boris Johnson's deal on Saturday at the Parliamentary vote.

"We're going to vote against it. If you look at it, it's worse than Theresa May's deal. Our concern has been less about the backstop issue and much more about the future relationship. Having analysed the document, any hope of a close economic relationship with the EU is gone.

The level playing field that protects working people, environments and consumers - that's all to come to an end at the end of 2020, and so this is really a paving stone to a decade of deregulation. That's a massive step in the wrong direction.

Eddie asked: "Are you attending to attach a referendum to your rejection of the deal?"

The Labour MP replied: "That depends. We've won a vote this morning that says we can put amendments down on Saturday and that we can put more than one. So there are all sorts of amendments going down.

Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson's deal is a paving stone to a decade of deregulation
Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson's deal is a paving stone to a decade of deregulation. Picture: PA

"Today has been about analysing the deal - most Parliamentarians here want to know what does the deal actually say? Is it better, is it worse, why is it worse. So we're in that territory.

"There are discussions about what amendments will go down and what we'd support but we're not at the stage of signing off on any of that yet."

"Are you worried that if you do attach a referendum amendment and it loses, all bets are off, that's it?" asked Eddie.

"Saturday's going to be a big day and the main focus on Saturday is whether the deal gets through or not. That's the big question because then you've got this issue of whether an extension follows if it doesn't get through.

"On a referendum, the numbers I think have improved. In the past we haven't had a majority for a referendum - I think we're close to it, there's a lot of discussion going on. That needs to be a discussion in our party, with other parties, and other people who are sympathetic.

"But at the moment our focus has been on the deal and we feel we haven't lifted up our heads to have those further discussion yet.

Eddie asked whether the Labour MPs will be whipped and told how to vote.

"Yes, we'll have a three line whip against this deal on Saturday, that's for sure."

Sir Keir Starmer will try to prevent Johnson's deal on Saturday by voting against it
Sir Keir Starmer will try to prevent Johnson's deal on Saturday by voting against it. Picture: LBC

Eddie referred to Damian Green who said now was Keir Starmer's time to step up to the plate.

Starmer said: "He knows very well I've spent the summer working cross-party to draft and then put forward a piece of legislation that if this deal doesn't go through Boris Johnson must ask for an extension. That takes no deal off the table on Saturday and that's a good thing."

"This is about the future of our country and just putting it up against a threat to do something even worse is ridiculous. We've got past that and Damien knows it. This wasn't just a Labour initiative. We've taken no deal off the table, we've now got the thinking space to decide is the deal good enough?"

Eddie asked if he worries if we come to a general election before a referendum, many voters will look at Jeremy Corbyn and think of him the same way Louise Ellman did. Labour MP Louise Ellman quit the party over anti-Semitic concerns.

When Starmer avoided the question, Eddie asked it again.

Starmer said he spoke to Louise Ellman today and it was a "low moment for our party to lose another Jewish MP and a woman MP. I'm very mindful of that."

He said the Labour party have done a lot to change the way they deal with this and they will "redouble their efforts". He also said he'd raise the issue at Shadow Cabinet.

He said: "The big question of the country is how do we get passed this fractured inequality that we've got across the country that has been hard-wired by austerity, and the sooner we get to that territory, the better."