Labour sister party in Northern Ireland accuses Jeremy Corbyn of aping DUP on Brexit
Labour’s sister party in Northern Ireland has accused Jeremy Corbyn of “taking the DUP line” on Brexit.
In a strong rebuke, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) said Mr Corbyn had been “disingenuous” in his claim that Theresa May's draft withdrawal agreement would mean a border down the Irish Sea.
The party, which lost its remaining MPs at last year’s snap election, have backed Mrs May's deal, which they say will avoid the need for a hard border in Northern Ireland.
But at Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn accused Mrs May of reneging on the commitment to avoid a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland through her agreement - echoing similar comments by the DUP.
Following the Commons clash, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said it was "strange" that Mr Corbyn, a long-standing supporter of a united Ireland, had taken the stance of the hardline Ulster unionists.
The intervention comes as Mrs May struggles to shore up support for her deal, with opposition parties including the DUP - which she relies on as part of the confidence and supply agreement - and many on her own benches having vowed to vote it down at the meaningful vote stage.
In a later statement Mr Eastwood said the Labour leader's claims were “false” and his position was “extremely bizarre and strategically poor”.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s continued opposition to the draft Withdrawal Agreement, based on the myth that it would create a border down the Irish Sea, is not only wrong, it is disingenuous,” he said.
“To be clear, this deal does not involve a customs border in the Irish Sea. There will be additional regulatory checks for some goods coming to Northern Ireland from Britain.
“There will be none going from Northern Ireland to Britain. This hardly constitutes a 'border in the Irish Sea'. The business community in Northern Ireland agree that this deal protects them.
"Jeremy's position on this doesn't add up. He says he wants to protect Ireland from a hard border but refuses to support the backstop that will prevent it from being necessary.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said of the SDLP chief's comments: “Labour has been pushing for a new comprehensive customs union, with a British say in all future trade deals, along with a new single market deal to ensure no hard border in Northern Ireland.