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Labour’s mistake in backing the Brexit bill | Letters

Readers respond after Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels passed into law

By supporting the Brexit bill, Labour has given Boris Johnson’s government a massive majority and made itself look even weaker than it did already (Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit trade deal passes into UK law, 31 December). When it was clear that the Conservatives would achieve a majority on the bill, Keir Starmer should have given a speech setting out the pros and cons of the bill (the first part should not have taken too long) and then given his MPs a free vote, with the advice to abstain. The majority would have been much smaller. And Starmer would be free to say what he liked in response to future issues. So your editorial (30 December) was wrong to say Starmer was “right to judge that Labour could not afford to be associated … with … ‘no deal’” – that was not even on the table. What was on the table was being associated with a bad deal.
David Mills
Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, East Riding of Yorkshire

• Regarding Labour’s decision to whip support for the Brexit bill, consider a simple thought experiment. A benighted government – not hard to imagine – decides to restore public hanging for petty larceny. After much debate and protest, a “listening” government proposes deportation to South Georgia instead. Right, says lawyerly Sir Keir, deportation is better than hanging, so we’ll support the South Georgia option as the lesser of two evils. That way we can “look to the future” and recoup the law-and-order vote. Wrong: you will have abdicated responsibility, abandoned principle, and alienated progressive voters. And you will have walked into another obvious Tory trap. So much for “under new management”.
Alan Knight
St Antony’s College, Oxford

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