Let me press on.
A variety of commentators have criticised the Prime Minister’s proposals, none more scathing than Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England. Leaving aside his description of the Government’s handling of this issue as
“incompetence of a high order”,
overall he says:
“It simply beggars belief that a government could be hell-bent on a deal that hands over £39 billion, while giving the EU both the right to impose laws on the U.K. indefinitely and a veto on ending this state of fiefdom.”
“no need to give credit to negotiators I think, because it’s not a good deal.”
Let me move on to my third point, which is Labour’s alternative. I believe that the majority of hon. Members in this House agree that the Prime Minister’s deal is not a good deal. So over the next few days, and possibly—as was hinted at this morning—for even longer, Members will be searching for a way forward. I believe that Labour’s proposals for a new approach to our European relationship offer that way forward. Our European partners will have seen that the Prime Minister’s deal that they reluctantly endorsed has not proved to secure the support it requires in this House or in the country. I believe that they will see the need, now, for a constructive renegotiation if both their and our own economic interests are to be protected in the long term. Indeed, that is what has happened in the past.
Labour’s new deal will secure the economic interests both of ourselves and our European partners. It rests on three posts. Labour would prioritise a permanent and comprehensive customs union—yes, with a British say in future trade deals. We would deliver a strong, collaborative relationship with the single market—and yes, we would guarantee that the UK does not fall behind in rights for workers, consumers and the environment. Labour has always been clear: we respect the referendum result, but we have always said that we want a Brexit that puts jobs and the economy first—and that is exactly what Labour’s approach will do.