A boost for workers’ rights that could win Labour round: Boris Johnson pledges set ‘highest possible standards’ into LAW – despite Jeremy Corbyn saying deal is a ‘race to the bottom’
- Talks have already taken place with rebel Labour MPs, led by Stephen Kinnock
- He has previously said he would support a deal which honoured the referendum
- Ruth Smeeth on Thursday also stated that it was her ‘intention to vote for a deal’
Moderate Labour MPs could be persuaded to back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal after he offered a series of sweeteners on workers’ rights.
Speaking in Brussels last night, Boris Johnson said he would ‘gladly’ make a commitment to maintain the ‘highest possible standards’ on environmental and social protections.
And the Daily Mail understands that Downing Street is now offering to write them into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make them legally binding.
Behind-the-scenes talks have already taken place with rebel Labour MPs, led by Stephen Kinnock, who has previously said he would support a deal which honoured the referendum result.
Behind-the-scenes talks have already taken place with rebel Labour MPs, led by Stephen Kinnock (left), who has previously said he would support a deal which honoured the referendum result. Ruth Smeeth (right) yesterday said it was her ‘intention to vote for a deal’ unless rights were ‘undermined’ by the deal
Jeremy Corbyn made clear yesterday that he wanted Labour MPs to vote against the revised withdrawal agreement, saying it would lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ on workers’ rights.
The party has not said whether MPs who defy him would lose the party whip. Even so, as many as ten Labour MPs are reported to be considering voting for the deal if Mr Johnson’s pledges on workers’ rights are enshrined in law.
Ruth Smeeth yesterday said it was her ‘intention to vote for a deal’ unless rights were ‘undermined’ by the deal.
Labour MPs John Mann, Sir Kevin Barron and Jim Fitzpatrick are also understood to support the agreement.
Mr Johnson will be dependent on some Labour support now that the DUP has said it will vote against the deal on ‘Super Saturday’ tomorrow.
Yesterday, the PM reached out to Labour MPs, saying: ‘It is a good text, and it gets to the heart of what we want to achieve with the EU. It does also contain important provisions and commitments that this country gladly makes about our determination to maintain the highest possible standards on environment and social protection.’
The agreement, announced yesterday morning, provides for a ‘level playing field’ on workers’ rights and environmental protection and commits Britain to ‘maintain... standards at the current high levels’.
However, the promise is part of the political agreement that sits alongside the withdrawal agreement – not the withdrawal agreement itself.
It is understood that Downing Street is offering to write these protections into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the legislation which enacts the Brexit deal, to make them legally binding and get the Labour rebels on side.
Mr Kinnock and 18 other Labour MPs wrote to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker earlier this month, declaring that they ‘wish to see the British EU referendum result honoured without further delay’.
Mr Johnson (pictured alongside president of the European Comission Jean-Claude Juncker (second-from-right), Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (left) and European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (right) during a press conference on the Brexit deal in Brussels) will be dependent on some Labour support now that the DUP has said it will vote against the deal on ‘Super Saturday’ tomorrow
One of the signatories told Huffington Post that around ten Labour MPs are now in the mood to vote for ‘any deal’.
On Wednesday night Mr Kinnock suggested that he could support the Brexit deal.
Speaking to Robert Peston on ITV, the MP was asked if he would back the deal. He said: ‘Yes, if the text meets Labour’s six tests... The level playing field is absolutely crucial.’
Yesterday Mrs Smeeth said: ‘It is my intention to vote for a deal unless Boris has completely undermined workers’ rights, environmental rights and consumer rights.’
Mr Mann said: ‘I will vote for this deal... We voted to leave, and I’m happier to leave with a deal that gives stability for businesses and jobs in this country, that’s what a deal does... I think the deal will get through.’
Another Labour backbencher told the Huffington Post he would consider voting for Mr Johnson’s deal if it enshrined workers’ rights. ‘If Boris can write all these things on to the face of a Bill, and bring that Bill forward pronto, we can vote for it,’ he said.
Labour MP Graham Stringer, who campaigned for Brexit, said he would back the Bill if it is ‘genuinely deal or No Deal’.
Despite the Prime Minister’s pledges Mr Corbyn said he would not support the deal. ‘These proposals risk triggering a race to the bottom on rights and protections: putting food safety at risk, cutting environmental standards and workers’ rights, and opening up our NHS to a takeover,’ he said.