Keir Starmer says Labour will vote for Brexit deal

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a virtual statement from the Labour Party headquarters, Lond

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a virtual statement from the Labour Party headquarters, London, following the announcement of an agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal. - Credit: PA

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour will “accept it and vote for it” when the government’s deal with the EU reaches parliament.

Explaining his decision, he said it is not the best deal that was on offer.

He said: “It is not the deal that the government promised – far from it. A better deal could have been negotiated.

“But I accept that option has now gone.”

He added: “At a moment of such national significance, it is not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines.

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“That is why I can say today that when this deal comes before parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it.”

He denied the suggestion the decision to vote for the deal – which he described as “thin” – was to appease large swathes of Brexit-supporting Labour voters at the last general election.

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He said: “These are difficult and tough decisions. But in the end there is only one choice – a binary choice here.

“Either we support the deal or we support the alternative, which is no deal. We have always been against no deal and that is why we will vote for this deal.

“I think many people will see this as a tough but necessary decision on behalf of the Labour Party, the Labour movement and on behalf of our country.”

The Labour leader is at odds with pro-European members of his party who have urged the party to either reject it or abstain on the vote.

Former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell wrote for The New European: "I just cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone would want to co-own this enterprise. If they get a deal it doesn’t even need a vote as they have the mandate already and there will only be one so Johnson can do what he likes to do - theatre and game-playing politics.

"If he gets a deal it is almost certain to get through without Labour votes.

"So let them have it on those terms. Their Brexit. Their deal. Their Covid. And they have ballsed up the lot of it. Then get on with preparing a modern agenda for a better future and do not let them put an albatross that they killed around your neck."

Richard Corbett, former leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, meanwhile argued it puts the party "on the wrong side of public opinion". 

He said the move would create new tensions in the party and that endorsing the deal would be support for the same aspects of Brexit "that we so strongly criticised for the last three years."

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