Jeremy Corbyn was left humiliated in the House of Commons today as he was jeered by Tory MPs for claiming Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will result in maggots in orange juice and rat hairs in paprika.
Mr Corbyn said the UK would have to ‘slash food standards’ in order to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the US as he said Labour will not vote for the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
But he was rounded on by Conservative backbenchers who dismissed the claims and delighted in pointing out that Mr Corbyn had been ‘slaughtered’ by voters at the general election last week.
Mr Corbyn made his claims as Mr Johnson urged MPs to finally ‘come together’ and back his divorce accord as he put the UK firmly on course to leave the EU by the end of January.
The Prime Minister said now was the time to ‘reunite our country’ after years of division over the UK’s split from Brussels and to ‘begin the healing’.
He called for people to ‘discard the old labels of Leave and Remain’ which have dominated since the 2016 referendum in order to ‘break the deadlock’ once and for all and ‘finally get Brexit done’.
The Commons is expected to approve the second reading of Mr Johnson’s WAB – the legislation needed to make an orderly Brexit on January 31 happen – this afternoon in its final act before the Christmas break.
With Mr Johnson now commanding a majority of 80 following his thumping election win last week, the WAB is expected to sail through after every Tory MP was required to sign up in writing to support it.
Mr Johnson told the Commons this morning: ‘If this House comes together now to support this bill as I hope it will, history will record that the first act of this new parliament in its earliest days was to break the ice flows and find a new passage through to unsuspected oceans of opportunity.
‘And so now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story, to forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world, to begin the healing for which the whole people of this country yearn.’
Boris Johnson today urged MPs to ‘come together’ and back his Brexit deal to allow the UK to move past its departure from the EU
Mr Johnson said the time had come to ditch the labels of Leaver and Remainer and for the country to reunite
Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal is ‘terrible’ and that Labour would not be supporting it
Despite, Mr Johnson’s plea, Labour will vote against the WAB amid fury over Mr Johnson’s decision to remove some concessions made by the government during the last hung parliament on refugees and workers’ rights.
Those concessions were added in a bid to win over Labour backbenchers and persuade them to support the PM’s deal.
Mr Corbyn said Mr Johnson’s divorce accord is ‘terrible’ and predicted it would kick off a ‘race to the bottom’ on standards and rights as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.
The Labour leader said the deal ‘points to a complete realignment towards the far weaker protections and standards that operate in the United States’.
He predicted that the UK would have ‘precious few bargaining chips’ during negotiations with US President Donald Trump and that ‘the brutal reality is Britain will have to lower its standards’.
‘The choice we now face is between keeping the highest environmental and food standards in order to get a future trade deal with the European Union or slashing food standards to match those of the United States where there are so-called acceptable levels of rat hairs in paprika, maggots in orange juice,’ he said.
Mr Corbyn was immediately jeered by Tory MPs after he made the food claims, prompting him to desperately insist that they were not a ‘piece of imagination’ but ‘absolutely’ the reality.
Tory MP Mark Francois intervened on Mr Corbyn and said: ‘You put your policy to the British people in as much as anyone could discern it in a general election. He was slaughtered.
‘What bit of that message does he not understand?’
The concessions removed from the WAB include plans to retain parity with the EU on workers’ rights, and the so-called Dubs Amendment that would have compelled the government to do a deal to allow unaccompanied child refugees into Britain if they have family here.
Number 10 has insisted both will be introduced in separate legislation, but Mr Corbyn said the changes were ‘nothing short of an absolute disgrace’.
On the removal of the refugee children pledge, he said: ‘Shame on this government for abandoning children in this way.’
Lisa Nandy, the Labour MP for Wigan, echoed a similar sentiment as she said the WAB had ‘changed for the worse’.
Intervening on Mr Johnson in the Commons this morning, Ms Nandy conceded that the PM had ‘a mandate to get Brexit done’ following the election.
But she accused him of introducing ‘measures that are a direct attack on some of the most vulnerable children in the world’.
She added: ‘If he thinks that people in towns like mine, who believe that we deliver Brexit, want to see us turn our backs on decency and tolerance and kindness and warmth and empathy, he is wrong.’
The terms of the refugee deal – pushed for by Lord Alf Dubs, who fled the Nazis as a boy – had been accepted by Theresa May when she was in Number 10 but her successor Boris Johnson looks to have watered down the commitment to simply requiring a minister to ‘make a statement’ to Parliament.
Boris toughens up WAB after crushing election win mans he no longer needs Labour support
Boris Johnson has made a raft of changes to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the wake of his crushing election win.
Some measures designed to appease Labour would-be rebels in a hung parliament have been stripped out and others designed to toughen it up have been added.
- Protection for workers rights designed to keep parity with EU standards after Brexit. Number 10 insists similar measures will be introduced in a separate law at a later date.
- A commitment to allow unaccompanied child refugees in to Britain to be reunited with family members living here legally. The so-called Dubs Amendment would have given ministers powers to do a deal with the EU and is named after Labour peer Lord Dubs. Number 10 last night insisted: ‘The Government’s policy on child refugees has not changed.’
- MPs’ ability to veto any extension to the transition period beyond December 2020.
- Parliament’s role in deciding the colour and shape of the Future Relationship with the EU.
- A ban on extending the transition period beyond December 2020. Mr Johnson made this part of his re-election campaign as a sign of his determination to complete severance from Brussels in a year’s time.
The change has been made in Clause 37 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, stating that a minister will ‘make a single statement to Parliament within two months’ of it passing to explain progress on the arrangements for child refugees seeking their families in the UK.
The PM’s spokesman told journalists after the Queen’s Speech on Thursday that the Government was ‘committed to reaching that agreement’ with the EU.
But Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said the Brexiteer European Research Group (ERG) is ‘quite happy’ and joked that they are now the ‘manifesto support group’ following the general election that saw an increased Conservative majority.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘It was the Remainers that wrecked Boris Johnson’s ability to get the agreement through Parliament.
‘Every member of the ERG supported Boris Johnson’s agreement, so we’re generally quite happy about how all this is proceeding.
‘It’s a compromise deal.’
The Prime Minister will use his sizeable majority in the Commons to break the deadlock that prevented Britain’s divorce from Brussels going through this year.
The Conservative Party leader said his Brexit Bill, along with his plans for Government, announced in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday, would bring about a ‘new dawn’ for Britain.
Once the second reading vote is passed today, MPs will return to the Commons on January 7, with plans in place to have the plan enshrined in law by the middle of the month.
This will allow the EU to ratify it in time for the UK to leave on January 31.
The bill delivers by putting into law the deal done with EU leaders last year – this includes new Northern Ireland arrangements, the divorce bill and rights of EU citizens.
It now also rules out an extension of the ‘transition’ period beyond December 2020 to focus minds in Brussels on getting a trade deal done.
Mr Johnson said in a statement issued overnight: ‘Today we will deliver on the promise we made to the people and get the Brexit vote wrapped up for Christmas.
‘Now MPs will start the process of passing the Bill. Then, at the beginning of the new decade, at the beginning of a new dawn for our country, our parliamentarians will return to Westminster to immediately finish the job, take us out of the EU on January 31 and move this country forward.
With Mr Johnson (pictured today) enjoying a majority of 80 following his thumping election win the WAB is expected to sail through – as all his MPs have already signed up in writing to support it
A smiling Boris Johnson walks through Parliament with a downcast Jeremy Corbyn yesterday ahead of the Queen’s Speech yesterday – today his Brexit Bill will be voted through
‘After years of delay and rancour in Parliament, we will deliver certainty and hard-working businesses and people across this country will have a firm foundation on which to plan for the future.’
But critics on the opposition benches said Mr Johnson had ‘binned’ his pre-election compromises on protections for workers and child refugees now that he had been ‘unbridled’ by his crushing win at the polls.
The government, as part of a re-drafted Brexit Bill, looked to have rowed back on an original commitment to strike a deal with the EU so child refugees in Europe can continue to be reunited with their families in the UK, even after free movement ends.
Clause 37 of the Bill replaces the pledge with a watered-down vow for ministers to ‘make a statement’ on the progress of the talks once the divorce with Brussels is complete.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, told the Guardian: ‘The Tories have torn-up the protections for workers’ rights and child refugees – and watered-down Parliament’s role in the next phase of the Brexit negotiations.
‘It was a bad Bill before the election, and it is even worse now.’
Acting Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Ed Davey, added: ‘Barely days away from the election and this Withdrawal Agreement reveals exactly what an unbridled Boris Johnson will do with the country.
‘Every compromise made before the election, from workers’ rights to protections for unaccompanied refugee children, have been binned just as we warned they would.’
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has criticised the changes made to the Brexit Bill
Mr Johnson wants to crash the WAB through Parliament in the first two weeks in January to allow his government to move onto its domestic priorities with Dominic Cummings, his top aide pictured arriving at No10 this morning, leading the reforming charge
Downing Street said forthcoming legislation would show the Government’s commitment to upholding rights and protections after exit day.
‘Our commitment to continue the highest standards on workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer protections will be honoured by provisions in separate legislation, including the Employment Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech,’ said Number 10.
A host of other changes were made to the Brexit Bill since it was last before the Commons in October.
Mr Johnson has inserted a clause that will legally prohibit his Government from extending the transition period – the 11-month buffer during which his team will look to negotiate a trade deal with Brussels – beyond 2020.
The legal text will also boost the power of UK courts, giving judges the ability to overrule judgments made by the European Court of Justice.
If passed by MPs, the Brexit Bill will return for its final stages in both the Commons and the House of Lords in the New Year before achieving Royal Assent.
The timetable paves the way for the UK to leave the EU by the January 31 deadline and for trade talks to commence.
Bill by bill, JACK DOYLE examines the new laws that will shape the UK after Brexit
Get Brexit Done was promised by Boris Johnson, and this bill delivers it by putting into law the deal done with EU leaders last year. It includes new Northern Ireland arrangements, the divorce bill and rights of EU citizens. Rules out an extension of the ‘transition’ period beyond December 2020 to focus minds in Brussels on getting a trade deal done.
Bills setting out key policy decisions for after Brexit. Free movement is replaced by Australian-style points-based immigration and an NHS worker visa. Common Agricultural Policy replaced by a more environmentally-friendly system, while fisheries will be repatriated. Powers to set trade policy will be returned to London from Brussels.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn pictured ahead of the State Opening of Parliament following the 2019 General Election
The new money – all £33.9billion extra of it – is going in anyway in the next four years, but a new law sends a signal to voters about the importance of the NHS to Mr Johnson, as well as making any funding cuts unlawful. Now begins the hard work of getting the Health Service to spend it effectively, improve output and fulfil other pledges on 50,000 more nurses and 40 hospitals in the next decade. A separate bill will establish a new patient safety watchdog.
Helping more people get on the housing ladder is a key focus for the next five years. As well as more affordable homes, a ‘first homes’ scheme will offer local people and key workers a 30 per cent discount on new properties. Government sources have also hinted at changes to planning law to encourage development while protecting the Green Belt.
Law to stop restaurants keeping staff tips, give extra £1billion for childcare, set up a body to protect workers’ rights, and ensure unpaid carers have a statutory right to take a week off will help Mr Johnson show he is determined to help millions of blue-collar workers who voted for him for the first time.
No bill because there isn’t a plan to solve the social care crisis yet. Instead, there is more money in the short term and a pledge to create a cross-party commission to produce a solution. But Downing Street officials know this big reform can’t be kicked into the long grass for years.
Forces web giants to clear terrorist material and child abuse images from their sites by putting them under a ‘duty of care’ enforced by a powerful new regulator.
Two bills will bring in longer jail terms. The first for terrorists will ensure those behind the worst offences will serve at least 14 years, ending release at the halfway point by ensuring all serve at least two-thirds. The second will also move the release point from half to two-thirds for the most serious and violent offenders.
As well as putting the ‘police covenant’ into law – rules that protect officers – this will give them new powers to tackle unauthorised encampments by criminalising trespass. Lets officers seize property of travellers who occupy land without permission.
An assault on the power of the RMT, whose rail strikes brought misery to millions of commuters. In future, all rail unions will be obliged to offer a minimum service level, even during a strike – and those that don’t will be liable for damages.
Foreign spies would have to register with the Government or face jail to make it harder for them to operate in this country.
All new homes to have fast internet, and the £1.8billion rollout of gigabit broadband across the UK.
Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn walk through the Commons Members Lobby during the state opening on Thursday 19 December
Reverse some Beeching cuts, build Northern Powerhouse Rail between major cities and a Midlands Rail hub. Likely to include HS2 after a review of costs has been published.
New powers that allow ministers to scrutinise and block takeovers of major British businesses to protect national security.
Brings in legally binding targets for air pollution and an environmental regulator, and bans plastic waste exports.
Will prevent murderers and paedophiles being released if they refuse to disclose details about their victims – such as the location of their bodies or the names of those they attacked.
…And the rest
Building Safety Bill; Fire Safety Bill; Pensions Scheme Bill; Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill; Windrush Compensation Bill; Thomas Cook Compensation Bill; Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bill; Domestic Abuse Bill; and the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill.
Boris Johnson hints he DOES want to build a BRIDGE between Northern Ireland and the UK mainland as he tells MPs: ‘Watch this space’
The Prime Minister previously raised the idea of the huge infrastructure project, saying it would show the commitment to keeping the Union together after Brexit.
However, engineers are deeply sceptical over whether it would be feasible to build such a transport link.
They have pointed out that the depth of the water and abandoned munitions in the area where the bridge would likely be placed would make it incredibly complex and astronomically expensive.
Boris Johnson, pictured in the House of Commons this afternoon, has signalled his support for a bridge to be built between Northern Ireland and Scotland
But asked by the DUP’s Ian Paisley today during the debate on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons about building a ‘Boris bridge’, Mr Johnson suggested he was in favour of the idea.
He told the Northern Irish MP: ‘It is a very interesting idea. I advise him to watch this space, and indeed watch that space between those islands.
‘What you have said has not fallen on deaf ears.’
Mr Johnson apparently told officials in September this year to look at the viability of building such a bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Staff at the Treasury and Department for Transport (DfT) were ordered to advise on the costs and risks of such a project.
The idea was originally put forward by Mr Johnson last year, when he was foreign secretary.
The suggested route of the bridge would see a 28 mile link between Larne in Ulster and Portpatrick in Scotland.
Documents revealed that the PM wanted to know where money for the new scheme could come from and the risks which appear to include ‘WW2 munitions in the Irish Sea’.
The DfT produced a paper on the subject after talks between the DUP and former transport secretary Chris Grayling.
A spokesman for the government told Channel 4 News: ‘This PM has made no secret of his support for infrastructure projects that… [could] strengthen the Union.’
A bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland has previously been floated by Mr Johnson and the DUP. The suggestion was to link the 28 miles between Larne in Ulster and Portpatrick in Scotland, pictured on a map
They added: ‘Government regularly commissions work to examine the feasibility of projects.
‘During the leadership campaign candidates spoke about a number of issues which resulted in Number 10 commissions ahead of a new Prime Minister taking over.’
Mr Johnson has previously been linked to unsuccessful infrastructure projects such as the Garden Bridge which was planned for London.
In 2011 the Prime Minister, who was then Mayor, also backed plans for a Thames Estuary airport. This idea was nicknamed ‘Boris Island’.