Shadow ministers prepare to resign after Keir Starmer instructs them to vote for Brexit deal

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a virtual speech

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a virtual speech - Credit: PA

Members of Labour's frontbench are preparing to rebel and resign over Keir Starmer's instruction to vote for Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

The Labour leader is facing a revolt after he said on Christmas Eve he will back the agreement even though he has doubts about the deal.

His party is maintaining its stance on voting for the deal despite the IPPR think tank warning it may risk the erosion of workers’ rights and environmental protections.

"We seem to be making a stand over a Conservative project. It is deeply uncomfortable for some MPs," one MP told the Guardian.

Another said: “We are being asked to support a Boris Johnson deal that is full of holes, on issues of security, fishing rights or level playing fields. Plus, it is going to go through anyway on Tory votes alone. I do not understand Keir’s position.”

Some Labour MPs have lobbied for the party to instead abstain on the vote so it can effectively hold the Conservatives to account for any financial harm caused by Brexit.

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But Sir Keir, who campaigned to remain within the EU, argued “it is not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines”.

On the backbenches those including Rupa Huq, Kevin Brennan, Neil Coyle, Clive Efford and Geraint Davies have all signalled they would not be prepared to follow the whip's instruction to vote for the bill.

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One MP told the newspaper: "It was claimed that we were all needed to ensure the deal passes, but we know that this is not going to be a meaningful' vote. 

"It's a straw man argument and I found it patronising to have it put up as a defence of the party's position."

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said MPs must support the deal in order to give certainty to businesses ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period.

Asked about a possible Labour rebellion, she told BBC Breakfast: “I obviously don’t want to see that, I want to see a situation where we have as much certainty for businesses as possible.

“We’ve heard for example that there may well be some members of the European Research Group on the Conservative side who are saying that they are going to be voting against this implementing legislation – I don’t think that’s sensible.

“I’m not going to say to you that this is the deal that Labour would have secured because it really isn’t – this is a thin deal – but we don’t want to create more problems for businesses right now by preventing the implementation of what the government has achieved.”

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