Corbyn: PM has ‘completely and utterly failed’ to ease concerns on Brexit deal

Jeremy Corbyn has warned that Theresa May has “completely and utterly failed” to ease MPs’ concerns about her Brexit deal.

The Labour leader added that MPs would “not be fooled” by last-ditch assurances over the Irish border and said letters from the EU and the Prime Minister were “nothing more than a repetition of exactly the same position that was pulled more than one month ago”.

His remarks came after Mrs May updated the Commons and urged MPs to back her “compromise” Withdrawal Agreement or risk being viewed as having “let the British people down”.

But Mr Corbyn said of the latest EU letter: “It categorically does not give the legal assurances this House was promised and contains nothing but warm words and aspirations.

“The truth remains that by the end of 2020 the UK will face a choice of either extending the transition period, which comes at an unknown financial cost, or we will fall into the backstop which the Attorney General said endures indefinitely until such time as an agreement supersedes it.

“Given the Prime Minister has failed to secure the promised changes, there can be no question of once again ducking accountability and avoiding tomorrow’s vote.

“No more playing for time, no more running down the clock to scare people into backing this damaging shambles of a deal.

“I’m sure members across the House will not be fooled by what has been produced today. It’s clear what we are voting on this week is exactly the same deal we should have voted on in December.”

(PA Graphics)

Mr Corbyn said the only thing which is “undermining faith in our democracy is the Government itself”.

He added: “I can think of no greater example of democracy in action than for this House to reject a deal that is clearly bad for this country.

“If this deal is rejected tomorrow, and I hope it is, the blame will lie firmly with the Government and firmly at the feet of the Prime Minister.”

He later reiterated his demand for a general election if the deal is rejected, which prompted Mrs May to reply: “Here I think we saw yesterday that (Mr Corbyn) isn’t thinking about the national interest, he is merely playing politics – because yesterday, when asked whether there was a general election he would actually campaign to leave the European Union, he refused to answer that question five times.

“We know where we stand – we’re leaving the European Union and this Government will deliver it.”

Pro and anti-Brexit demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mrs May later said she “did not believe the date of March 29 should be delayed” after Conservative former minister Ken Clarke said the Brexit date should be pushed back.

Mr Clarke earlier said the Prime Minister had got “rather further” than he believed with assurances from the EU, adding: “I fear it will do no good because she’s up against two bodies of opinion – one, of hardline Brexiteers on this side and the Leader of the Opposition and his front bench who think if they cause crisis and deadlock it will result in no deal, and the other is a lot of hardline Remainers largely on the back bench of the Labour Party who think if they cause chaos and deadlock it will lead to a second referendum.

“One of them is wrong – the problem is she’s up against both of them.”

– Press Association