Brexit: Diane Abbott says she is voting against Johnson’s deal
Diane Abbott confirmed she will be voting down the Brexit trade agreement the Government struck last week despite Sir Keir Starmer whipping his MPs to lend their support to the Government. The former shadow Home Secretary said she will not back the deal despite in the past having repeatedly voted against the European Union over concerns of too much entanglement between the UK and the bloc. Addressing colleagues in the Commons, Ms Abbott said: “This is the most important and consequential piece of legislation on British-EU relations in over 30 years in this House.
“Let me say from the beginning that I will not be voting for this Tory Brexit deal today.
“I should also say that will not be because I don’t respect the results of the 2016 referendum.
“I think I have rather good eurosceptic credentials. I voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and I voted against most other pieces of further EU unification that have come in front of this House.”
She continued: “I voted against the Maastricht Treaty not because I was opposed to freedom of movement or because I had a fear and concern about EU migrants or because I had the notion that migrants drove down wages.
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“I voted against the Maastricht Treaty and other aspects of EU integrations because of the concern for fundamental issues of democracy and accountability.
“By driving this historic deal through Parliament in one day with no time for proper scrutiny, this Government is thrashing democracy.”
Sir Keir Starmer insisted the “thin deal” negotiated despite its “many flaws” is better than a no-deal scenario as he conceded there is “no better deal coming in the next 24 hours”.
Sir Keir added: “There’s only one choice today, which is to vote for implementing this deal or to vote for no deal.
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“Those that vote no, are voting for no deal.
“This is the nub of it: those voting no today want yes. They want others to save them from their own vote. Voting no, wanting yes, that’s the truth of the situation and that’s why my party has taken a different path.”
The Labour Party leader claimed he could have negotiated a “better” deal than the one Boris Johnson secured, adding: “When the default is no deal it’s not a mark of how pro-European you are to reject implementing this treaty.
“It isn’t in the national interest to duck a question or to hide in the knowledge that others will save you from the consequences of your own vote.
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“This is a simple vote with a simple choice: do we leave the transition period with the treaty negotiated with the EU or do we leave with no deal?
“And so Labour will vote to implement this treaty today to avoid no deal and to put in place a floor from which we can build a strong future relationship with the EU.”
Former Prime Minister Theresa May had previously hit out at Sir Keir, telling the Commons: “I welcome this deal and I will be supporting it today and I welcome the fact that the official Opposition will be supporting this deal, but I did listen with some incredulity to what the leader of the Opposition said.
“He said he wanted a better deal. He had the opportunity in early 2019 when there was the opportunity of a better deal on the table and he voted against it, so I will take no lectures from the leader of the Opposition on this deal.”
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