Sir Keir Starmer: Labour will vote for ‘thin’ deal in the national interest

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the party will vote in favour of the Government's "thin" EU deal, saying that no deal is simply not an option.

The fervent pro-European said it was "in the national interest" to support the agreement despite concerns over the terms negotiated by the Government.

Sir Keir said: "At a moment of such national significance, it is just not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines.

"That is why I can say today that when this deal comes before Parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it.

"But let me be absolutely clear – and say directly to the Government – up against no deal, we accept this deal, but the consequences of it are yours."

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UK and EU reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal
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UK and EU reach agreement on post-Brexit trade deal
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "PIPPA FOWLES / No10 DOWNING STREET / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson calls President of European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen via video link from the Cabinet room, in London, United Kingdom on December 24, 2020. (Photo by Pippa Fowles/No10 Downing Street/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 24: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "ANDREW PARSONS / No10 DOWNING STREET / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen via video link from the Cabinet room after completing the Brexit deal, in London, United Kingdom on December 24, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The media gathered outside 10 Downing Street, London, ahead of a briefing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prepares to address a media conference on Brexit negotiations at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on December 24, 2020. - Britain said on December 24, 2020, an agreement had been secured on the country's future relationship with the European Union, after last-gasp talks just days before a cliff-edge deadline. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANCISCO SECO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a media conference on Brexit negotiations at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
Larry the cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office catches a pigeon as journalists await results of the Brexit trade deal in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. European Union and British negotiators are closing in on a trade deal with only a disagreement over fishing remaining, After resolving a few remaining fair competition issues, negotiators were dealing with EU fisheries rights in U.K. waters Wednesday as they worked to secure a deal for a post-Brexit relationship after nine months of talks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Larry the cat, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office catches a pigeon as journalists await results of the Brexit trade deal in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. European Union and British negotiators are closing in on a trade deal with only a disagreement over fishing remaining, After resolving a few remaining fair competition issues, negotiators were dealing with EU fisheries rights in U.K. waters Wednesday as they worked to secure a deal for a post-Brexit relationship after nine months of talks. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Journalists put their heads together in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year chaos for cross-border traders and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Journalists report in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year chaos for cross-border traders and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, right, and European Commission's Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom Michel Barnier address a media conference on Brexit negotiations at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, Pool)
Police speak to anti-Brexit protestor Steve Bray, at the gates of Downing Street, London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Negotiators from the European Union and Britain worked through the night and into Christmas Eve to put the finishing touches on a trade deal that should avert a chaotic economic break between the two sides next week. Trade will change regardless come Jan. 1, when the U.K. leaves the bloc’s single market and customs union. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
The media gathered outside 10 Downing Street, London, ahead of a briefing from Prime Minister Boris Johnson the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Prime Minister, Boris Johnson holds a press conference on reaching a Brexit trade deal in Downing Street on December 24, 2020 in London, England. Four and a half years after British voters elected to leave the EU, and mere days before the latest and presumably final deadline, UK and EU leaders have announced a trade deal defining the terms of the breakup. (Photo by Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on the agreement of a post-Brexit trade deal.
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He said no deal would lead to "devastating" social, economic and political consequences, and said it was not right for Labour to abstain.

Sir Keir denied the suggestion the decision to vote for the deal was in response to appease of large swathes of Brexit-supporting Labour voters at the last general election.

He said: "These are difficult and tough decisions.

"But in the end there is only one choice – a binary choice here.

"Either we support the deal or we support the alternative, which is no deal.

"We have always been against no deal and that is why we will vote for this deal.

"I think many people will see this as a tough but necessary decision on behalf of the Labour Party, the Labour movement and on behalf of our country."

The Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "Whichever way you slice it, there is no doubt that this deal falls short of what's best for London, the UK and our economy. It does not come close to the benefits we enjoyed as members of the EU.

"However, this is the deal now on the table. While we still need to see the detail, we now have a direct choice between this agreement or a catastrophic no-deal Brexit."

Mr Khan later criticised a "costly, red tape mountain" he said would be imposed from January 1.

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