Mandelson: May’s Brexit plan would bring ‘national humiliation’

Labour peer’s intervention shows even the most ardent remainers in British parliament find blueprint unacceptable

Lord Mandelson supports a ‘people’s vote’ on a final Brexit deal. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

Lord Mandelson supports a ‘people’s vote’ on a final Brexit deal. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

 

Former British trade commissioner in Brussels Peter Mandelson has said Theresa May’s latest Brexit blueprint would bring “national humiliation” and leave the country in a worse position than if it turned its back on the European economic system.

In making common cause with hardline, anti-EU Tories, the Labour peer says the plans would deliver “the polar opposite of taking back control”, and would mean “the EU would ultimately call the shots, not just now but indefinitely”.

His extraordinary intervention shows that even the most ardent remainers in parliament find the plans unacceptable.

Writing in the Observer – as a new poll shows support for the Tories has slumped and backing for Ukip has soared since the plans were agreed by the cabinet 10 days ago – Lord Mandelson writes: “Britain, in effect, would be entrapped and the more you think through the implications the more the whole thing looks less like a soft Brexit than a national humiliation.

“Not only would it fail to secure all the trade we have presently but it would severely compromise our ability to negotiate future trade agreements with other countries.

“Inevitably you are drawn to the conclusion that it would be better to be fully in the economic structures of the EU or out of them all together, and if you are in them, better to stay in the EU itself as this provides a seat at the table where the rules are made.”

The comments from Lor d Mandelson, who supports a “people’s vote” – another referendum – on a final Brexit deal, are in line with the latest thinking of Remain-minded Labour MPs, whose outright opposition to Ms May’s proposals would appear to kill off any hope the government might have of relying on opposition supporters of a soft Brexit to force her plans through parliament in the autumn.

On Saturday night, the pro-Remain Labour MP Chuka Umunna said there was no way even the most pro-EU Labour supporters of a soft Brexit would back May’s plans.

“There is no Labour Remainer who would support May’s Chequers deal or prop up her sorry excuse for a government – full stop,” he said.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has written to the prime minister telling her to change course or risk doing untold damage to the City.

Mr Khan said her plans “would open the door to our competitors, who are already actively working to attract UK-based businesses to export jobs to Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and other secondary financial hubs”.

He added that “under the kind of Brexit that you are offering, the risk is that these would be the tip of the iceberg. While London’s fundamental strengths, as an open, cosmopolitan and global city will always remain, jobs and investment that could have been ours might in future go elsewhere in Europe.” – Guadian