UK opposition Labour Party will back Brexit trade deal

FILE PHOTO: Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks during a session on COVID-19 situation update at the House of Commons in London, Britain December 1, 2020. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS T

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s opposition Labour Party will back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trade deal with the European Union when it is put before parliament next week, Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Thursday.

Earlier, Britain clinched a narrow Brexit trade deal just seven days before it exits one of the world’s biggest trading blocs in its most significant global shift since the loss of empire.

Parliament is due to be recalled on Dec. 30 to vote on the legislation which implements the deal.

“When this deal comes before parliament, Labour will accept it and vote for it,” Starmer said. “At a moment of such national significance, it is not credible for Labour to be on the side lines.”

But Starmer said he could only justify voting for the deal because it was better than the alternative - a disruptive break with the EU on Dec. 31 that would worsen the economic damage of leaving the bloc.

“The deal is a thin agreement,” he said. “It does not provide adequate protections for British manufacturing, our financial services, creative industries or workplace rights. It is not the deal the government promised.”

Reporting by William James and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by William Schomberg