Labour Leader Starmer to Back Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal: Report

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in central London, on November 8, 2020. - Remembrance Sunday is an annual commemoration held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, November 11, the …
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The pro-Remain leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, will reportedly back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prospective trade deal with the European Union in an attempt to put the battle over Brexit behind the party.

The move to back Mr Johnson is widely seen as an attempt to mend ties with so-called “Red Wall” voters who abandoned the Labour Party in last year’s election, with many crediting their departure down to the Remain stance of the party.

While there has been no final decision by the Labour leadership on whether they will whip votes to support Mr Johnson, sources within the Shadow Cabinet said that Starmer would back “almost any trade deal” with the EU, according to The Sun.

On Monday night, Shadow cabinet office minister Rachel Reeves said in a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) that the leadership will scrutinise the deal before signing off, saying per HuffPost: “Keir and I will read the deal. We are not being bounced into this decision.”

However, following such scrutiny, Reeves said that the current position of the leadership is to support the prime minister’s deal.

Former Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery and general secretary of Unite the Union Len McCluskey have in the past blamed the party’s anti-Brexit stance for its historic defeat in the 2019 general election. This month, Mr Lavery, Jon Trickett MP, and ex-MP Laura Smith penned a joint opinion piece for HuffPost, saying the Labour Party must “apologise” for its Brexit position.

“To rebuild trust that has been lost and restore people’s trust in politics, Labour should say sorry,” they wrote.

“This is not only about Labour winning elections but restoring faith in democracy. We do not believe that the party can move on until it has put this issue behind us,” the Labour members concluded.

The decision to back Johnson is being criticised by backbenchers in the party, with one MP saying: “Every time we draw attention to the damage over the next four years the riposte will be ‘but you voted for it’. No one will thank us in four years’ time as they survey the wreckage.”

“Once Covid is over, Brexit and the inadequacies of the Johnson deal will come back to dominate,” the unnamed MP added.

On Wednesday, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen claimed that there have been “genuine progress” on issues such as fishing rights, saying that there is an “outline of a final text” of the deal.

“No one questions the UK sovereignty in its own waters, but we ask for predictability and guarantees for our fishermen and fisherwomen who have been sailing in these waters for decades, if not centuries,” the EU chief said.

The signal of support from the pro-Remain Labour Party may confirm what many in the Brexit movement have feared, namely that Johnson is preparing to “sell out” and capitulate to EU demands in favour of securing a deal.

On Tuesday, former Brexit MEP Martin Daubney said that according to insider sources, there is a “strong indication Boris will sell us a BRINO [Brexit in Name Only] next Tuesday.”

Daubney went on to predict that Johnson will “attempt to bury news under Dec 2 COVID lockdown lift” and that there will be “huge concessions” given to the bloc on issues such as fishing rights. He said that the deal will be “defeat dressed as [a] victory”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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