Should Labour back a deal?

Simple (ha!) question.

Assuming Johnson agrees a deal with the EU and brings it back to parliament to ratify - should Labour support it or not?

Should Labour support a deal>
  • Hell no
  • Abstain
  • Yes

0 voters

It does depend on what the deal is - but in reality if voted against in parliament there is no time for further negotiations.

A very thin FTA which probably removes tariffs & quotas on most goods but does not cover services.

I actually think it is quite a difficult question, because there is no good answer.

Its a no win really, if they vote for it Doris will say well you voted for it, if they dont, then Doris will say its your fault for not supporting it.

Good subject Paul, I was going to raise it myself.

I think Starmer is at risk of a tactical win and a strategic error. His short term goal seems to be to show the Red Wall that voted Tory last time out that Labour has listened. You wanted Brexit, so here is, we support it.

I’m not much of a shot but I do know you should aim for where a moving target will be, not where it was. Given the negative impact Brexit is going to have, by the next election many of those that voted for it will have changed their minds. The polls show that has already happened to a significant extent. They will be looking for somebody to lead them out of the mess, not somebody who rolled over and voted for it.

So, IMO, no matter how unpopular it may be now, in order to position itself for the next General election, Labour should vote against the deal.

Plus, IMO the difference now between a deal and no-deal is marginal. One way or the other negotiations are set to continue for years, if not decades. As you point out, the most important issue was/is Financial Services. The “deal” might sort out fish (<1% of the economy) but leave the City dangling.

The EU could echo the dolphins fleeing the doomed Earth “goodbye, and thanks for all the fish”. Douglas Adams RIP.

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There’s three options listed above - For, Against and Abstain, but you’ve overlooked Starmer’s fourth and to my mind most pragmatic option - for the sake of party unity, give Labour MPs a free vote.


I voted no, only because there is no possible deal I could think of that would be a good one - for anyone.

Especially since I saw Johnson make a deal on the Irish/Border/Sea question that was obviously nonsense at the time and is seen be Johnson to be nonsense now, to the extent that he is prepared to renege on it.

That alone, if I was an EU negotiator, would put me off even discussing anything with him at all, knowing his perfidious track record.

Interesting that the EU has had one lead negotiator and the UK has had four. No plan and no consistency. Olly Robbins was the only one I thought brought pragmatism to the discussions.

Yes, that would get Starmer off the hook but it would not help define Labour policy on the matter.

It is certainly true that any deal which could be done in the time available and in the current political climate will not be a good one - but it will be better (just) than no-deal.

This is Starmer’s dilemma, he has already tried to put distance between Labour under his leadership and the mess Corbyn left with his endless prevarication by making it clear that Labour accepts the 2016 result and does not wish to position itself as a Rejoin party.

Unfortunately after that he is a bit stuck.

If he votes against the deal there is a chance that it will be defeated (that would need “help” from the ERG of course - but they don’t want a deal so quite likely).

Then if, as is almost certain, things go pear shaped next year he will be accused of blocking the deal and Johnson will try to attach the blame on Starmer.

If he supports the deal and things go pear shaped next year (almost as likely as without a deal) then Labour gets tainted by association with a poor deal.

If he abstains, or allows a free vote, then he opens himself up to accusations of ignoring the biggest political issue facing the UK. He’s just about got away with keeping quiet on Brexit so far this year on the grounds that we had Covid to deal with and the fact that “Johnson promised us a deal so he should go out and get the best possible” - I don’t think he can keep quiet much longer without incurring damage politically.

The trouble is we are in a situation where neither party can or will admit Brexit is a very bad idea and we should re-join the SM and CU at the very least.

PS: some analysis here as to why abstain is the best option:

Labour aren’t going to be in power for at least another four years. No one yet knows what the situation will be in a month’s time let alone further ahead. There’s plenty of time for Labour to shape their future policy.

Agree - but the worst case scenario is that things get very ugly very quickly next year. I think it is a certainty that Johnson will not last until 2024 as PM but I think it quite possible the Tory government will not last until 2024 either.

I’ll give it about 50:50 at the moment (and Johnson 90:10 against fighting the GE in 2024 as party leader).

At the moment I think the least worst is to abstain while quickly ramping up the attacks on whatever deal emerges comparing it with the promises leading Leavers (including Johnson) made.

Starmer should be able to attack the Tory record fairly easily while not committing Labour to anything concrete for a while yet.

But (as so often with Brexit) all available options are sub-optimal.