General election: Boris Johnson labels Jeremy Corbyn's claims Brexit would lead to customs checks as 'complete nonsense'

Boris Johnson has labelled Labour claims that his Brexit deal would lead to customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as “complete nonsense”.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 10:17 am
Updated Saturday, 7th December 2019, 10:19 am

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he had obtained a confidential government report that “drives a coach and horses” through the Prime Minister’s claim there will be no border in the Irish Sea under his plan.

The row came ahead of the final leaders head to head debate between the two men on the BBC last night which also saw clashes over Brexit and the NHS dominate.

Mr Johnson used the hour-long debate hosted by Nick Robinson to question how Labour could negotiate a new withdrawal agreement with the EU when Mr Corbyn is “neutral” and other frontbenchers are pro-Remain.

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The row came ahead of the final leaders head to head debate between the two men on the BBC last night which also saw clashes over Brexit and the NHS dominate.

The Prime Minister said: “Who is going to negotiate it because as far as I can see everybody on the Labour frontbench is campaigning to Remain apart from Mr Corbyn who is neutral on the matter?”

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He added: “How can you get a deal, a new deal from Brussels for Brexit, if you don’t actually believe in it? That’s the mystery that I fail to understand.”

The Labour leader said Mr Johnson wants a trade deal with the US which would take “seven years” to negotiate.

He added: “He knows he can’t get a deal quickly with the US because of the way in which the US political system works.

“And so what he will do is walk out of a relationship with the EU into a relationship with nobody.”

Labour has claimed that the Tories are planning to “sell off” the NHS in a trade deal with the US.

Mr Corbyn last night insisted that the proposed trade deal with the US after Brexit would allow access to public services and the extension of access to patents on medicines which would “increase medicine costs in this country”.

The Labour leader said: “Donald Trump has said many times that people pay too little for US medicines around the world. That’s the kind of agenda the Prime Minister wants to get involved with - that’s the kind of deal they’re trying to make with the US.”

But Mr Johnson branded this “pure Bermuda triangle stuff”.

“I use the NHS, I love it, it’s one of the most incredible things about this country. it’s admired around the world, this central idea that if any of us get sick all of us take care of them. It’s a fantastic thing.

“Now, we believe in an NHS free at the point of use. Under no circumstances will we sell it off to anybody.”

Mr Johnson also rejected claims of a leaked document released by Labour earlier in the day suggesting there will be no checks on goods going between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister insisted the claims were “not true”.

He added: “I do find it slightly curious to say the least to be lectured about the union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by a man who all his political life has campaigned to break up that union and actually supported for four decades the IRA in their campaign violently to destroy it.”

Mr Corbyn challenged Mr Johnson to show a “degree of honesty” about the arrangements he had made for Northern Ireland. He said: “He spoke at the DUP conference and said there would be no restrictions whatsoever. We now know there are restrictions. He could and should have said that at the time.”

Brandishing the document, titled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access To The UK Internal Market, at a press conference yesterday, Mr Corbyn said it was proof there would be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

“What we have here is a confidential report by Johnson’s own government, marked ‘official, sensitive’, that exposes the falsehoods that Boris Johnson has been putting forward,” he said.

“This is cold, hard evidence that categorically shows the impact a damaging Brexit deal would have on large parts of our country.”