Former Ipswich MP Sandy Martin calls for Labour to drop EU deal support

Sandy Martin

Sandy Martin signed the letter urging Labour to oppose the Brexit trade deal. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Former Ipswich MP Sandy Martin is one of a number of leading Labour figures to sign an open letter urging party leader Sir Keir Starmer not to back the EU trade deal.

Mr Martin, a pro-European who lost his seat to Conservative Tom Hunt in last year's general election, is one of a number of current MPs, former MPs and other leading Labour figures to sign the letter from the pressure group Another Europe is Possible.

Among the other signatories are Norwich South MP Clive Lewis and Suffolk county councillor Kathy Bole.

The list of signatories is headed by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former Labour cabinet minister Lord Adonis.

Mr Martin said he was urging the party not to support the deal because it would damage key industries and lead to higher levels of unemployment. 

He said: "If we support this deal, then every time we criticise its effects, we will have the government turning around to us and saying: 'You supported the deal,' and that is not good for us.

"The deal is going to get through anyway - the government is going to get support from all, or almost all, of its MPs and we are not calling on the party to vote against the deal but to abstain.

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"But we don't know what effect the new trade deal will have on Axa in Ipswich or on the insurance and financial services industry in general. We don't know how it will affect the British motor and aircraft industry and manufacturing as a whole."

He emphasised he was still a loyal supporter of Sir Keir's leadership - and that this letter should not be seen as a challenge to his authority.

Mr Martin said: "If you look at the signatories this is backed by MPs and other figures from across the party. (Exeter MP) Ben Bradshaw has signed it as has (former leader of Labour MEPs) Richard Corbett."

If the deal were to be rejected by the House of Commons, it would mean the UK would leave without any deal - but Mr Martin said that would not happen if Labour abstained.

"It is usual for the opposition to vote against budget even though its members know it has to be passed to allow government to continue - that is the position we are in with this EU trade treaty."

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