Shadow justice secretary David Lammy has broken official Labour Party ranks to call for a Brexit extension on Question Time.
Lammy urged Downing Street to seek an extension while it “works out” the economic mess caused by the coronavirus.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly vowed not to extend the transition period which is set to end on December 31.
Speaking on Question Time, Lammy criticised Johnson’s handling of Brexit negotiations.
He said: “We were told by Boris that we would have an oven-ready deal, we have no deal.
“We have Boris putting the Good Friday Agreement on the table that jeopardises that deal.
“We have the chief executive of the port of Dover saying a no-deal Brexit could cost us £1 billion a week and that traffic flows could be down 40 to 60 per cent.
“The clock is ticking. We are running out of time. It is now looking worrying that we will have no deal with the EU and then no deal with the US either.”
He added: “It is desperately important that we get a deal that has frictionless trade, that doesn’t involve tariffs, that we have food safety and health safety, and no queues backed up in Kent.
“I suspect a lot of people in an area like Dover are really worried because a lot of promises were being made. We wait to see what will happen. Now we know we have just days to deliver this against the backdrop of the coronavirus.
“This is tough. We have all European countries dealing with this pandemic, all European countries dealing with the economic consequence.
“Let’s have a little extension while we work this out.”
Reacting to a clip of Lammy’s speech, one Twitter user wrote: “Wouldn’t normally RT #BBCQT. However, a good summary from @DavidLammy. Equally interesting, watch @MattHancock ‘s face. He knows Lammy is right and the country is totally buggered.”
Hancock's expression offers no reassurance. He knows you're right, the Cabinet knows you're right and Johnson knows you're right. Game over.
— llyoungster (@Lyoungster2) November 13, 2020
Former breakfast radio presenter Geoff Steambuff posted: “David Lammy telling it like it is, but it is actually much worse when you realise there is no financial services deal either. An economic disaster is weeks away.”
Others disagreed. Conrad Gerrard said: “It’s easy for the opposition to be critical of govt as they are not the ones making the decision.”
“We had an oven-ready deal, Boris can’t be blamed if EU keeps moving the oven! They offered us a Canada deal repeatedly when May was PM, now they refused to deliver,” wrote one user.
Another replied: “Nothing will replace the loss of EU membership. The loss of future potential jobs, friends and family. Nothing.”
Nothing will replace the loss of EU membership. The loss of future potential jobs, friends and family. Nothing.
— Anton 🇪🇺 🇬🇧 🏴 #FBPE 🏳️🌈🌹 (@AntacsB) November 13, 2020