“This is a vague menu of options, not a plan for the future” – Corbyn’s response to latest Brexit statement

Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s response to Theresa May’s latest Brexit statement.  

I thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of her statement.

These 26 pages are a testament to the failure of the Tories’ bungled negotiations. 19 extra pages, but nothing has changed.

The only certainty contained within these pages is that the transition period will have to be extended or we will end up in the backstop with no exit.

It represents the worst of all worlds: no say over the rules that will continue to apply and no certainty for the future.

There is no change to the Withdrawal Agreement no unilateral pull out mechanism, no concessions on the backstop which would create a new regulatory border down the Irish Sea.

Mr Speaker, did the EU not receive the amendments and improvements promised by the Leader of the House?

A little over a year ago we were confidently told by the Government that by the end of the Article 50 period we would have a trade deal. The International Trade Secretary said it would be the “easiest in human history”.

Instead, we have 26 pages of waffle.

This empty document could have been written two years ago. It is peppered with phrases such as “The parties will look at” … “The parties will explore”. What on earth has the government been doing for the last two years?

They have managed less than one page per month since the referendum.

The Prime Minister said: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. It’s clear from this document that indeed nothing is agreed.

This is the ‘blindfold Brexit’ we all feared – a leap into the dark. It falls far short of our – Labour’s – six tests.

This government could have negotiated a new and comprehensive customs union, giving certainty to business and securing manufacturing industry and jobs.

Instead, they are more interested with dog-whistling on immigration.

I hope the Prime Minister will abandon the sort of poisonous and divisive rhetoric about “EU nationals jumping the queue”.

EU nationals have contributed to this country across all industry and public services, while it is this government and this Prime Minister as Home Secretary who built a “hostile environment” for non-EU migrants.

Chequers has been chucked. There is no common rulebook and no mention of frictionless trade. Our participation is downgraded in a number of European agencies or we are out of them entirely.

After more than two years of negotiations, Mr Speaker, there is no clarity over our status with a range of European-wide agencies.

The Erasmus scheme, the Galileo project, Euratom, the European Medicines Agency, the European Chemicals Agency, and the European Aviation Safety Agency. On none of these do we know our final status.

Take for example space: in section 107 of the document it says “the parties should consider appropriate arrangements for cooperation on space”. Well, what a remarkable negotiating achievement that is.

This is waffle. The blindfold Brexit of a government that spent more time arguing with itself than negotiating for Britain.

Mr Speaker, on Fisheries the Prime Minister and the Environment Secretary have been saying Britain will leave the common fisheries policy and become an independent coastal nation.

Yet this agreement sets an aspiration to establish a new fisheries agreement on access to waters and quota shares by summer 2020.

Mr Speaker, that sounds to me like we are replacing membership of the commons fisheries policy with a new common fisheries policy.

It’s clear that during what will now inevitably be an extended transition period, there will be no control of our money, our laws and our borders, or indeed our fishing stocks for a very long time.

The Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and said a deal has been agreed between the UK and the European Commission and it was now up to the EU 27.

Mr Speaker, until this Parliament has debated and voted there is no UK agreement.

This half-baked deal is the product of two years of botched negotiations in which the Prime Minister’s red lines have been torn up, Cabinet resignations have racked up, and Chequers has been chucked.

This is a vague menu of options. It is not a plan for the future and is not capable of bringing our country together.

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