Sir Keir Starmer has written for the Sunday Telegraph to urge the Government to “get on with Brexit” so that the country can focus on defeating coronavirus. Sky News’ Sophy Ridge grilled Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Louise Haigh over whether the party leader was calling for the Government to “compromise” over the two outstanding issues that are preventing a trade deal. However, the Labour MP appeared to dodge the question as many as three times in the interview.
Ms Ridge asked: “Would Labour support the Government rolling over on fishing and state aid?”
Ms Haigh replied: “Keir Starmer has written to say Boris Johnson’s actions completely compromise progress towards securing a free trade deal with the EU.”
The Sky host interrupted to repeat her question, saying: “We know that things that are holding up the trade deal are on fishing and on state aid.
“So in order to get Brexit done, is Labour saying that the Government should compromise on those two things?”
The MP shot back: “The point is that these issues are not insignificant, and they’re important to swathes of our economy, but they’re certainly not insurmountable.
“What’s baffling about the Government’s approach is that there was every prospect that those issues were going to reach agreement in the joint committee this week.
“It’s really important that it is through that joint committee between the UK and EU that that is how the agreement in reached.
“That is what was put forward in the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol.”
Ms Haigh insisted that the protocol and state aid provisions had already been agreed by Boris Johnson in the withdrawal deal, and were therefore binding.
However, the Government is now making a bid to override these parts of the Brexit agreement with new legislation.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted that the Government’s plan would break international law, but claimed it would only be “in a very specific and limited way”.
The European Commission have demanded that the Government withdraw these measures by the end of the month.
They claim that the bill has “seriously damaged trust” between the EU and UK.