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THERESA MAY’s “empty” draft agreement on Britain’s future dealings with the European Union represents the “worst of all worlds,” Jeremy Corbyn said today.
In the Commons, the Prime Minister confirmed that the draft political declaration on the framework of this country’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU had been agreed, after it was leaked by Brussels earlier that day.
European Commission president Jean Claude-Juncker said it has been “agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders” at a summit on Sunday.
Labour leader Mr Corbyn’s response was scathing.
He said: “A little over a year ago, we were confidently told by the government that, by the end of the Article 50 period, we would have a trade deal.
“The International Trade Secretary said it would be the ‘easiest in human history’. Instead, we have 26 pages of waffle.
“This empty document could have been written two years ago. It is peppered with phrases such as ‘the parties will look at’ … ‘the parties will explore.’
“What on Earth has the government been doing for the last two years?
“They have managed less than one page per month since the referendum. Nineteen extra pages, but nothing has changed.
“The only certainty contained within these pages is that the transition period will have to be extended or we will end up with a backstop and no exit.
“It represents the worst of all worlds — no say over the rules that will continue to apply and no certainty as to the future.”
Ms May told MPs that a deal enabling Britain to “focus on big issues at home, like the NHS,” is “now within our grasp” and that she will “do everything possible” in the run-up to Sunday’s summit to deliver it.
The draft agreement’s key points are that the Northern Ireland backstop could be superseded by the use of technology, that there would be an end of freedom of movement between the EU and Britain and this country could have an independent trade policy.
It also says that Britain would be an “independent coastal state” and that issues surrounding Gibraltar still need to be resolved, as well as it referring to a role for European Court of Justice.
Mr Corbyn called on Ms May to “abandon her poisonous rhetoric” on immigration and accused the Tories of being more interested in “dog-whistling on immigration … about EU nationals jumping the queue” than negotiating with the bloc.
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