Peterborough’s MPs divided over new Brexit deal

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Peterborough’s MPs have given contrasting views on the Brexit deal agreed by the Government and the EU.

After days of intensive negotiations Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed today (Thursday) that the two sides had reached a “great” new deal.

Lisa Forbes and Shailesh Vara

Lisa Forbes and Shailesh Vara

He urged Parliament to get behind the plan and vote for it during a special Commons sitting this weekend.

The announcement came as Mr Johnson prepared to head to Brussels for a crucial EU summit during which he will hope to win the approval of other EU nation states.

The Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the two teams of negotiators had reached a “fair and balanced agreement”.

He said he would recommend that the EU Council - leaders of other nation states - get behind the deal.

The new deal sees the removal of the controversial backstop. Instead, the whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union.

There will be a legal customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain beind checked at ‘points of entry’.

Duty will be paid on items believed to be “at risk” of being transported into the Republic of Ireland.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has criticised the deal, and Labour MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes, whose constituency voted by more than 62 per cent to Leave the EU, has also promised to vote against it.

She said: “Instead of taking back control this sell-out deal hands it to US corporations looking to drag standards down in our food industry and privatise our NHS.

“Johnson can spin his deal as much as he wants, but the reality is that it is even worse than Theresa May’s deal and cannot even command the support of the DUP.

“It is evident that this deal will start a race to the bottom on rights and protections and is not something I can vote for in good faith.”

However, Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP for the North West Cambridgeshire constituency, which covers large parts of Peterborough, was much more positive.

The former minister, who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum but resigned from government over his opposition to Theresa May’s deal, said: “It has been a difficult three years of negotiations and as is always the case the European Union agrees matters at the very last minute.

“The EU has opened up the Withdrawal Agreement and got rid of the backstop which was a major issue for many of us.

“The deal also ensures that we will be in control of our borders, our money and our laws. Importantly, the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the European Union.

“Boris Johnson has had the courage to stand up for the UK and managed to get serious changes to the previous agreement.

“I will be voting for the deal.”

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, another Conservative who backed Remain but has aligned himself to leaving the EU, tweeted: “Very pleased that Boris has been able to secure this new improved deal. It’s now vital that MPs approve the deal, deliver Brexit and respect the referendum result. If passed this deal will provide a degree of certainty that has been lacking for so long.”

In the city of Peterborough, 60.8 per cent voted to Leave in 2016.