Starmer: Labour won’t support “the blindest of blindfold Brexits”

Sienna Rodgers

Keir Starmer told the British Chambers of Commerce conference today that Labour would refuse to back the “blindest of blindfold Brexits”.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary was responding to the news that the government planned to separate the withdrawal agreement from the political declaration.

There will be a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow on the legally-binding part of Theresa May’s Brexit deal only, rather than the whole agreement.

This complies with the Speaker’s recent ruling, which ruled out another vote on the same motion, as it is a substantially different proposal from the one considered in the second meaningful vote.

But many MPs – including Keir Starmer – have raised concerns about the move, concluding that it doesn’t comply with UK law and will therefore be a non-binding vote.

Starmer said: “Following the Prime Minister’s commitment yesterday to resign before the next phase of negotiations begin, it’s even more of a blindfold Brexit – because we now know that the outcome of our future relationship with the EU is not going to be determined by her.

“My biggest fear is that unless Parliament takes a stand now, the outcome of the negotiations is going to be determined by the outcome of next Tory leadership contest.

“It could be a Boris Johnson Brexit. A Jacob Rees-Mogg Brexit. Or a Michael Gove Brexit. That should give anyone considering supporting May’s deal on Friday serious concern. 

“Equally, if the Prime Minister tries to separate the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration altogether, that only makes matters worse. We would be leaving the EU, but with absolutely no idea where we are heading. That cannot be acceptable and Labour will not vote for it.”

On the Prime Minister wanting to split her deal, he said: “The truth is, you can’t separate the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. And the Prime Minister knows it.

“On 14th January – when pleading with MPs to back her deal the first time round, she told the Commons there was “absolute clarity on the explicit linkage between the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration.”

“The PM continued, saying that “the link between [the two documents] means that the commitments of one cannot be banked without the commitments of the other. The EU has been clear that they come as a package.”

“And she was right. Because the joint letter from President Juncker and President Tusk on 14th January said: “As for the link between the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration… it can be made clear that these two documents, while being of a different nature, are part of the same negotiated package”.

“The Prime Minister and the EU know these documents cannot be separated. Yet now she may ask the Commons to pretend they can.

“But I want to clear – Labour will not support this latest desperate attempt by the PM.

“To now to split the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration would leave us with the blindest of blindfold Brexits. Labour will not countenance that.”

Starmer latest tweeted a thread setting out four reasons for which the separation does not work:

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