A Labour peer has warned Boris Johnson against dodging democratic scrutiny of his Brexit deal as MPs complain there is not enough time to scrutinise it.
Former Tony Blair aide Lord Andrew Adonis said Johnson was “spinning” negotiations “out to the last minute” in order to avoid democratic scrutiny of his new deal.
Reports have emerged that Johnson and EU president Ursula von der Leyen secured a trade agreement Wednesday evening following a major concession from the British on fishing rights.
The deal, reported to be 2,000 pages long, could be brought before parliament next week, giving MPs less than five days to scrutinise it before Britain leaves the Brexit transition period on December 31.
Lord Adonis told LBC radio on Thursday that “big democratic issues” remained over enacting the new treaty.
He told host Nick Ferrari: “As you and I know, there is a week to go and most of that is Christmas.
“There is a big issue over how we’re actually going to scrutinise this and I think that was deliberate on Boris Johnson’s part. He wanted to go as close to the wire as possible.”
He claimed Johnson was never serious about pursuing a no-deal outcome.
“Just look at the scenes at Dover over the last 48 hours,” he said. “That would have been replicated next week if there had been no-deal and Boris Johnson knew it.
“He was always spinning this out to the last minute so he there wouldn’t be the democratic scrutiny that would expose the fact that this going to be, inevitably – and everyone is being open and honest about this – a trade reduction treaty.
“It will inevitably lead to less trade and more unemployment afterwards because there will be new trade barriers compared to what we had in the single market and customs union in the European Union.”
Asked why the EU would go along with Johnson’s ploy, Lord Adonis added: “What the EU hasn’t wanted, and it’s because they’ve acted responsibly all the way through, was a no-deal.
“Being responsible – not wanting to create mass unemployment, the massive trade disruption that there would be, as we’ve seen in the last 48 hours, if there was going to be no-deal – they’ve been continuing the negotiations all the way through.”
Johnson’s own backbenches have have expressed similar concerns.
Brexiteer and Tory MP Andrew Bridgen called on Johnson to give members more time to scrutinise the deal.
Speaking on talkRADIO, Bridgen said: “If we signed up to a deal that wasn’t what we thought it was, I don’t think the nation would ever forgive us.
“People need to remember that a long-term treaty like this isn’t just for Christmas and, if you legislate in haste, you’ll always regret it.”
Up to 20 Tory MPs have signalled they could vote down a Brexit deal when it comes to the House of Commons’ next vote.
Allies of prime minister have calculated that a significant proportion of the backbenchers would vote against any deal, regardless of the content in the agreement.
Among the ERG ‘Spartans’ that Number 10 fears will vote against will include Mark Francois, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, Peter Bone, and Bridgen.