Masked Theresa May moans MPs didn't back her 'better' Brexit deal

The lone rager: Masked Theresa May vents fury at MPs for failing to back her ‘better’ Brexit deal last year while branding Boris Johnson’s agreement ‘disappointing’ – but says she WILL vote for it

  • Theresa May was lone figure wearing coronavirus mask in House of Commons
  • The ex-PM complained that MPs failed to back her ‘better’ Brexit deal last year
  • Branded Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement ‘disappointing’ but will vote for it 

Theresa May donned a coronavirus mask in the Commons today as she raged at MPs for failing to back her ‘better’ Brexit deal last year.

The ex-PM was a lone figure using a face covering as she joined the debate over Boris Johnson’s trade agreement with the EU.

And she only ditched the mask to deliver an excoriating rebuke to Sir Keir Starmer for playing games when she had a package in place that would have kept the UK more closely aligned to Brussels.

Mrs May said the pact Mr Johnson had struck gave the EU what it wanted with no tariffs or quotes on goods, but ‘disappointingly’ lacked any provision for the UK’s critical services sector.

However, she confirmed that she will be voting for the deal, citing ‘very important’ security arrangements. 


Theresa May was a lone figure wearing a mask in the Commons chamber, but took it off to deliver her assessment of the deal

Mrs May delivered an excoriating rebuke to Sir Keir Starmer for playing games when she had a package in place that would have kept the UK more closely aligned to Brussels

As the one-day Parliamentary process for the Brexit legislation began this morning, Mrs May was wearing a distinctive mask – in contrast to other MPs who were bare faced, albeit socially distanced.

In her speech she said: ‘I welcome this deal and I will be supporting it today and I welcome the fact that the official opposition will be supporting this deal, but I did listen with some incredulity to what the leader of the Opposition said.

‘He said he wanted a better deal. He had the opportunity in early 2019 when there was the opportunity of a better deal on the table and he voted against it, so I will take no lectures from the leader of the Opposition on this deal.’

‘Central to this deal the PM has said is the tariff free and quota free trade arrangements subject of course to rules of origin requirements. It would have been unforgiveable for the EU not to have allowed tariff free and quota free access given that they signed up to that in the political declaration signed with my Government in November 2018.

‘One of the reasons for supporting this deal is the security arrangements that have been put in place which are very important.’

Mrs May said she was ‘disappointed’ about the deal’s approach to services, telling the Commons: ‘It is no longer the case that UK service providers will have the automatic right of access to provide services across the EU – they will have to abide by the individual rules of a state.

‘I understand if you’re a lawyer advising on UK law in the Czech Republic you will have to be resident, and in Austria you will have not to be resident – just as an example of the difference of those rules.’

Mrs May said the ‘key area’ is financial services and she pledged in 2018 to work to get a ‘truly ground-breaking’ deal for this sector, adding: ‘Sadly it has not been achieved.

‘We have a deal in trade which benefits the EU but not a deal in services which would have benefited the UK.’

Mrs May said the treaty is clear future negotiation on these points are possible, adding: ‘I hope the Government will go to that negotiation with alacrity and vigour.’

Opening the Commons debate, Mr Johnson insisted that Britain had ‘taken back control’ by cutting ties with the bloc, urging an end to the ‘rancour and recrimination’ that have soured the past four years since the referendum.

Sir Keir has ordered his MPs to support the plan as it is better than No Deal – even though dozens of his own side are expected to rebel

Opening the Commons debate, Mr Johnson insisted that Britain had ‘taken back control’ by cutting ties with the bloc, urging an end to the ‘rancour and recrimination’ that have soured the past four years since the referendum

He said now decades of tensions with the EU had been ‘resolved’ Britain can be its closest friend, a free-trading power, and a ‘liberal, outward-looking force for good’. He suggested far from trade being hit by leaving the single market and customs union it should mean ‘even more’ business being done.

‘Having taken back control of our money, our borders, our laws and our waters by leaving the European Union on January 31, we now seize this moment to forge a fantastic new relationship with our European neighbours based on free trade and friendly co-operation,’ Mr Johnson said.

‘At the heart of this Bill is one of the biggest free trade agreements in the world.’ 

The rallying cry came as legislation implementing the historic deal is being rushed through the Commons and Lords in just one day, ahead of the end of the transition period at 11pm tomorrow. 

The agreement’s passage is assured with Tory Eurosceptics – who lavished praise on Mr Johnson, saying Churchill and Thatcher would be ‘proud’ – fully on board.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir is ordering his MPs to support the plan as it is better than No Deal – even though dozens of his own side are expected to rebel.

In a tough message in the Commons, Sir Keir said: ‘Those that vote ”no” are voting for No Deal.’ 

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