Politics

Even I back Boris! Remainer Labour MP breaks party rank to declare support for Brexit deal

Brexit: Michel Barnier says 'we will see' as he leaves UK

Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, has said he would vote with the Government if a trade agreement is struck with the EU. The 58-year-old has not been shy in voicing his anti-Brexit views in the past and is the only Labour MP left in a Leave constituency who voted against triggering Article 50 – a treaty which began the exit process.

Mr Bryant does expect the UK to eventually agree a “minimalist” trade deal rather than a comprehensive free trading relationship, and stated he would reluctantly urge his party to support it as a no deal outcome would have worse consequences.

He said: “If the Prime Minister does what I expect him to do, namely negotiate some kind of minimalist trade deal with the EU at the very last minute, I expect I will vote for it and I would encourage all my Labour colleagues to do the same.

“Not that I will support it with great enthusiasm. It won’t be the comprehensive deal we were promised and it will be far less than we need to safeguard our economic prosperity.

“Yet the alternative is even worse.”

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Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Bryant highlighted concerns a no deal exit could bring, including disruption to food exports and security cooperation with Europe.

He added if a deal comes to the Commons it will also be met with a number of amendments to ensure those issues were addressed.

He said: “I’ll try to strengthen that deal. I’ll table amendments to improve it. It won’t be my deal and it won’t be Labour’s deal.

“But if it prevents tariffs on UK produce and guarantees security cooperation, I don’t see how, in good conscience, I could set about trying to stop it at the eleventh hour.”

This week Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer indicated the party would back any forthcoming agreement and insisted a deal was in the “national interest”.

Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth, he also acknowledged there were “different opinions” within the party.

Several Labour MPs are thought to be uneasy about backing a deal and being responsible for a so-called hard Brexit.

Sir Keir said: “We don’t know there will be a deal. I hope there will.

“As soon as there’s a deal, we’ll look at it. But if the choice is a deal or no deal then a deal is obviously in the national interest.”

Speaking this morning before boarding a train from London back to Brussels, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier remained coy on the chances of an agreement.

He said: “We keep calm, as always, and if there is still a way, we will see.”

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Brexit negotiators agreed to pause talks on Friday evening after failing to find a breakthrough on key issues including fishing, governance and the so-called level playing field on competition.

Boris Johnson will hold an emergency call this afternoon with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to try and end the impasse.

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