TORY PM May announced yesterday that a political declaration has been ‘agreed in principle’ between the UK and the EU outlining how trade, security and other issues will work. However, it is a non-binding declaration, a matter of opinion, which has no legality.
The political agreement admits that the issue of Gibraltar has not been resolved. May then tried to win over Parliament, making a statement in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.
‘It honours the vote of the British people,’ she claimed, ‘by taking back control of our borders, our laws and our money.’ She said to jeers: ‘It ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘These 26 pages are a testament to the failure of the Tories bungled negotiations: 19 extra pages, but nothing has changed. The only certainty contained within these pages is that the transition period will have to be extended or you will end up with a back-stop and no exit. It represents the worst of all worlds.’
He confirmed Labour will not vote for it and said: ‘It falls short of our Labour’s six tests. This is a vague menu of options, not a plan for the future and not capable of bringing our country together.’
Ex-Tory cabinet member Iain Duncan Smith said the northern Irish back-stop, now bound to the withdrawal agreement has become a ‘particularly toxic issue’. He then emphasised that what she has agreed was a political declaration and not the withdrawal agreement.
He said: ‘The Withdrawal Agreement will make it very clear, that should we even under these terms, struggle over a free trade arrangement and not complete that process we will fall into the Northern Ireland back-stop as it exists at the moment and that will mean simply that we will be bound by those restrictions that force Northern Ireland into a separate arrangement as us, into the Customs Union.’
SNP MP Ian Blackford said: ‘This government really is spluttering forward in a haphazard chaotic way … Scotland’s fishing communities are being used once again as a bargaining chip, used by a Tory government and Brussels.’
Tory MP Dominic Raab, who resigned as Brexit Secretary over the deal said: ‘The back stop ties the UK to the Customs Union and Single Market, removes our voice and is an EU veto over our exit … The top reason people voted to leave the EU was to take back democratic control over our laws. Isn’t it the regrettable but inescapable reality that this deal gives even more away.’
DUP MP for Lagan Valley, Jeffrey Donaldson said: ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer said last night that he does not like the back stop, that he does not think that the back-stop is a good arrangement for our economy, and he does not think that it is a good arrangement for our union. We agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer … I say to the Prime Minister, that if she wants to have the support of my party for the Withdrawal Agreement then we need to see an end of the back-stop.’
May responded: ‘He started off by reflecting the comments that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made, as I have said and others have said in this chamber, none of us want to see the back-stop being used. The best way to ensure that the back stop is not used is to get the future relationship into place.’