Brexit: Angela Eagle grilled on whether Labour will back deal
Frontbenchers fear the Labour leader’s plan to support a deal negotiated by Boris Johnson will spark outrage among members. It is thought at least eight members of Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet are uncomfortable with the decision.
Time for a trade deal between the UK and EU to be agreed is tight, with just weeks to go until the end of the transition period.
If an agreement is not in place by December 31, Britain will trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms.
Any deal that is struck will need to be voted on by MPs before it comes into effect.
Sir Keir Starmer believes abstaining or rejecting the trade deal will be seized upon by the Tories as proof Labour does not support Brexit.
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But some members of his top team fear backing a deal would be to fall into the Government’s “trap”.
A shadow cabinet source told the Guardian: “Until now it has felt like a fait accompli but now the discussion is out in the open.
“This is a trap that we can avoid, we are not going to get credit from the rightwing media for it.
“But it is a hard conversation to have because no one wants to make life any more difficult for Keir.”
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, who is a former MEP and represents the ultra-Remain seat of Oxford East, is understood to be among those nervous of supporting a deal.
Labour lost dozens of seats in the midlands and north of Elgnad at last year’s general election.
Polling indicates as much as a fifth of those who switched their votes from the Labour Party to Tories did so because of Mr Johnson’s pledge to ‘Get Brexit Done’.
Labour’s manifesto at the last election promised to negotiate a Brexit deal before holding a second EU referendum.
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Sir Keir must win back life long Labour voters in so-called Red Wall seats at the next election if he is to have a chance of entering No10.
He sees backing any deal agreed by the Government as important to make a clean break from the past.
However, the outcome of negotiations remains far from clear.
The Prime Minister will head to Brussels later this week to try and secure a last minute trade deal with the EU after negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost were unable to clinch an agreement.
After a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last night, it was agreed that face to face talks between the two should take place to try and overcome the issues standing in the way of a deal.
A joint statement said: “As agreed on Saturday, we took stock today of the ongoing negotiations.
“We agreed that the conditions for finalising an agreement are not there due to the remaining significant differences on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries.
“We asked our Chief Negotiators and their teams to prepare an overview of the remaining differences to be discussed in a physical meeting in Brussels in the coming days.”
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