I've had a reply from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who happens to be my MP, to my criticisms of Labour's reply (see my post of 23 January) to my original criticisms of Labour's policy on Brexit. I attach this latest reply below, and you will see it bears an extraordinary resemblance to Labour's original reply (see my post of 17 January), which I had already demonstrated to be completely unsatisfactory.
It is almost as though Labour has a standard pro forma response to anyone who raises anything that casts doubt on the Great God Brexit. Personally, I don't see how determinedly ignoring the Brexit disaster can win the next election for Labour, but what do I know? I'm only a voter. Anyway here's the letter:
Thank you for writing to Keir to share your thoughts on Britain’s exit from the EU. He has asked me to respond on his behalf.
I am sorry that it has taken us so long to get back to you, the constituency office has received a huge amount of correspondence recently and we have had to prioritise urgent Covid-19 related casework. That said, I would like to assure you that we have still been reading and monitoring policy inquiries throughout this period and ensuing that Keir is fully briefed on the issues which are being raised by local residents. Your strong views, arguments and observations have been duly noted and shared with the relevant policy teams.
The old divides of Remain and Leave are over. At the end of December, Labour had two options: Johnson’s flawed trade deal with the EU, or the chaos of ending the transition period with no deal, which would have meant substantial tariffs and barriers to trade. Neither one was ideal. Neither one would deliver for jobs, business or the economy.
We have always said that to crash out with no deal would be unthinkable. It would have created enormous uncertainty, endless negotiations and inflicted huge damage to businesses in highly exposed sectors, including manufacturing and farming.
With no option of renegotiating left, we voted in the national interest by rejecting no deal.
Voting for this deal did not mean that we welcomed it. However, compared with the alternative, this is the better option for business, supply chains, the economy and jobs. This deal will provide some stability and certainty for businesses. Without it, we would have faced no deal which would have meant investment and jobs lost across crucial sectors.
But, this is Johnson’s deal. He and his Government will own it and they must take full responsibility for their slowness and lack of preparedness – and for the promises they make and break. There was no reason that a deal this unambitious for the UK had to be left until the final days of the transition period. The decision to delay this deal has done unnecessary damage to businesses and the economy.
Moreover, this deal falls far short of what the Government promised. It neglects services, which account for 80 per cent of our economy, and weakens our security measures. There was very little time for Parliament to scrutinise the deal properly because of how quickly it had to be passed. So much for ‘taking back control’ – this Government is arriving at the last minute with a deal that is more ‘be grateful you’ve got anything’.
More holes will be exposed in the coming weeks and months which must be mended in the future. This Tory Government must now get into action and properly support British industries with adjusting to new trading rules, building up local supply chains and expanding in to new markets.
The biggest challenges facing our country and our planet require co-operation and international solutions, and a Labour government will work with others with shared values to tackle those.
Now that a trade deal has been agreed, the task of securing the economy, protecting the NHS, and rebuilding the country will only have just begun. A Labour government will build on the foundations of this deal, stand up against any Tory attempts to dilute workers’ rights and environmental standards, and make the United Kingdom the best place to grow up and the best place to grow old.
Thank you once again for your email. Please do not hesitate to get back in touch if there are any further points that you would like to raise.
Research and Communications Officer
Office of Keir Starmer QC, MP
Member of Parliament for Holborn & St Pancras
Leader of the Opposition