Group of Tory Brexiteers gives support for EU trade deal

Politics

A group of influential Conservative Brexiteers has declared its support for the EU trade deal agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The European Research Group (ERG) said the agreement, struck with Brussels on Christmas Eve, “preserves the UK’s sovereignty as a matter of law”.

The ERG’s backing provides a significant boost for Mr Johnson, after a number of their members previously withheld their support for ex-prime minister Theresa May’s divorce deal last year.

MPs are due to vote on the deal on Wednesday, with the government hoping the 1,246-page deal can be ratified by parliament in a single day.

If approved, the trade agreement will come into force on 1 January – following the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of this year.

Mr Johnson should see the deal pass through the House of Commons with few problems, after Labour said they would vote in favour of the agreement.

The party’s shadow business minister, Lucy Powell, told Sky News on Tuesday the trade deal was “not as comprehensive a deal as we would like or the country was promised”.

More from Brexit

But she said MPs now faced a “binary choice” between approving the trade agreement or the UK leaving the Brexit transition period with the “catastrophic consequences” of no deal being in place.

Ms Powell added she understood the vote would be a “difficult issue” for her fellow Labour MPs, amid signs a number of them might rebel and vote against the deal.

Former shadow cabinet ministers John McDonnell, Clive Lewis and Ben Bradshaw are among a list of Labour figures to have signed a statement urging the party not to support the trade agreement.

The DUP will vote against the deal as they continue to register their discontent with the provisions for the Irish border – known as the Northern Ireland Protocol – that Mr Johnson signed up to last year.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats have also said they will vote against the deal.

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