Brexit: Labour MPs tempted to vote for a Boris Johnson deal warned it will be 'stuff of right wing dreams'

It ‘would be the culmination of a decade-long project which is of the right, by the right and for the right’, Tom Watson tells colleagues

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 19 September 2019 19:35 BST
Countdown to Brexit: How many days left until Britain leaves the EU?

Labour MPs planning to vote for any Brexit deal secured by Boris Johnson have been warned by party big-hitters that it will be the “stuff of right-wing Tory dreams”.

Senior Labour officials pointed to a new dossier from the People’s Vote campaign that highlights the risks – to the NHS, worker rights, food safety, the Irish border and internet regulation – of trusting the prime minister.

The warning comes after two Labour MPs tried to rescue an agreement by meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, in Brussels, having claimed up to 50 colleagues could lend their support.

Stephen Kinnock, who made the trip with Caroline Flint, called for “a compromise that can pass in the Commons”, based on worker and environmental protections.

But Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, seized on the dossier to urge the party’s MPs to recognise that any deal signed by the prime minister would be “of the right, by the right and for the right”.

And Margaret Beckett, the former Labour foreign secretary, said: “Any MP who might be tempted to back it needs to recognise the likelihood that a Johnson Brexit will destroy jobs, undermine public services and usher in the kind of offshore deregulated pirate economy which is the stuff of right-wing Tory dreams – and our nightmares.”

The People’s Vote report argues that a Johnson deal would mean:

* A “race to the bottom” on tariffs and standards – forcing British firms to cut their own standards to avoid being put out of business by foreign competitors.

* Dependency on the US – it is argued that the trade deal Mr Johnson seeks with Donald Trump would bring in chlorinated chicken, and open up the NHS and other public services to private US firms.

* Power is handed to unelected officials – because “unaccountable” officials, not MPs, would decide the details of free trade agreements.

* “Hands tied” on internet giants – if a US trade deal leaves the UK unable to tax and regulate the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook effectively.

* A “bonfire of workers’ rights” – highlighting Mr Johnson’s previous comments that “the weight of employment regulation is now back-breaking”.

* A hard border in Ireland – because even the proposers of so-called “alternative arrangements” to avoid border checks, outside the EU customs union and single market, acknowledge the solutions are years away.

Mr Watson, a strong supporter of a Final Say referendum, added: “A Boris Johnson Brexit deal would be the culmination of a decade-long project which is of the right, by the right and for the right. I hope Labour MPs will stay united in defence of our values.”

And Ms Beckett said: “Boris Johnson’s supporters would love to claim Labour support – and blame us afterwards for the consequences.”

The MPs for a Deal group wants the prime minister to revive ideas drawn up by Theresa May in cross-party talks in the spring, including plans for consumer protections and a vote on a customs union.

But No 10 has already scoffed at the move – and is instead seeking to back away from “level playing field” commitments in its talks with the EU.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in