Keir Starmer, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, could support a Brexit deal if last-minute negotiations with the European Union succeed in the next few days, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The opposition leader is planning to impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to support the deal, subject to the detail, reports the Guardian citing “multiple Labour sources” but not naming any.
With less than five weeks before the UK’s transition period ends, Brexit negotiations are in their final stages. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, is returning to London to restart face-to-face talks this weekend. There are still major issues to be resolved around access to British fishing waters, security arrangements and competition.
If a deal can be agreed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to put it to parliament before Christmas. His majority of 80 in the house means any deal is likely to go through even if the Labour party abstains from voting. But Starmer believes the consequences of a no-deal Brexit from the transition period would be too dire for the party to simply abstain and stand on the sidelines, the Guardian said, without citing sources. The paper said Starmer is likely to avoid using language such as “supporting” the deal and will make a speech setting out more details of how Labour sees Britain’s future place in the world.
David Frost, who’s leading the UK’s Brexit negotiating team, was downbeat on the chances of securing a deal this week. “Some people are asking me why we are still talking,” Frost tweeted. “My answer is that it’s my job to do my utmost to see if the conditions for a deal exist. It is late, but a deal is still possible, and I will continue to talk until it’s clear that it isn’t.”