Corbyn Condemns Pm Johnson Over Customs Union

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The pro-Brexit movement is getting stronger as this picket outside Parliament on Tuesday shows

IN THE House of Commons yesterday morning PM Johnson sought to persuade MPs to support his Brexit plan.

He said: ‘This government has moved. Our proposals do represent a compromise and I hope that the House can now come together in the national interest, behind this new deal.’

His proposal aims to replace the Irish border ‘backstop’ in the existing withdrawal agreement – which has been rejected three times by MPs.

He added: ‘I believe this is our chance and their chance to get a deal,’ but that the two sides were ‘some way from a resolution’.

Johnson added that the plan would mean there was no need for checks or infrastructure between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Under Johnson’s proposals, which he called a ‘broad landing zone’ for a new deal with the EU:

  • Northern Ireland would leave the EU’s customs union alongside the rest of the UK, at the start of 2021.
  • It would, with the consent of politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly, continue to apply EU legislation relating to agricultural and other products – what he calls an ‘all-island regulatory zone’.
  • This arrangement would, need the consent of Northern Ireland’s politicians every four years, implying the reconvening of the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • Customs checks on goods traded between the UK and EU would be ‘decentralised’, with paperwork submitted electronically with only a ‘very small number’ of physical checks that would take place away from the border itself, at business premises or at ‘other points in the supply chain’.

The government is also promising a ‘New Deal for Northern Ireland’ with financial commitments to help manage the changes.

Johnson told MPs: ‘This government has moved. Our proposals do represent a compromise and I hope that the House can now come together in the national interest, behind this new deal, to open a new chapter of friendship with our European neighbours and move on with our domestic priorities, including education, infrastructure and our NHS.’

His appeal was immediately rejected by Remain leaders Corbyn, McDonnell and the SNP’s Brailsford.

Labour leader Corbyn said – speaking up for the bosses and the Labour bureaucracy: ‘The current proposals reject any form of customs union, something demanded by every business and industry body in Britain and every trade union.’

He continued: ‘But what we have before us is a rehashed version of previously rejected proposals that put the Good Friday Agreement at risk and would trigger a race to the bottom on rights and protections for workers, consumers and our precious environment.’

He demanded: ‘Given the seriousness of this issue and the vagueness of proposals so far, can the Prime Minister tell this House if and when he plans to publish the full legal text he must submit to the EU?’

Corbyn added: ‘The Prime Minister signed up to the backstop in Cabinet and he voted for the Withdrawal Agreement as a backbencher.’

He added: ‘Deal or no deal, this government’s agenda is clear: They want a Trump Deal Brexit.’

He warned: ‘No Labour MP could support such a reckless deal that would be used as a springboard to attack rights and standards in this country.’

Corbyn demanded: ‘So can the Prime Minister give a clear answer to one question: If he doesn’t get a deal at the October Council summit, will he abide by the law of this country, the EU Withdrawal No.2 Act, and request an extension to avoid a disastrous no deal?’

John McDonnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, and a self-declared Remainer, responding to Boris Johnson’s conference speech, said: ‘The Brexit proposals reportedly being considered by Boris Johnson are neither credible nor workable. They are a cynical attempt to force through a No Deal Brexit.’

He concluded: ‘This crisis the Tories have plunged our country into can only be settled by letting the people decide. We need a general election, followed by a public vote, as soon as the threat of No Deal is off the table.’