Cleverly takes aim at Starmer ‘he doesn’t know how to negotiate’

James Cleverly quizzed by Kay Burley over NI deal

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James Cleverly took aim at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer this morning saying “he doesn’t know how to negotiate” as bad tempers began to leak out after yesterday’s Brexit deal announcement.

The Foreign Secretary was on Sky News with Kay Burley where she quoted the Labour leader saying that the deal was “just a compromise.”

Mr Cleverly hit back: “Well he doesn’t know how to negotiate if he thinks it was just a compromise.”

He insisted: “It’s a very good deal.”

The Foreign Secretary pointed to Northern Ireland being able to enjoy UK tax rates and the end of almost all checks.

However, with the DUP still to decide whether to support it he was asked nine times by Kay Burley whether they “can scupper the deal” and refused to answer.

She added: “Are they not as powerful as they were before? Why won’t you answer?”

The Foreign Secretary responded: “I think your second question gives it away when you ask if they are not as powerful anymore.”

He insisted he wanted to give the Unionists time to “consider the details.”

Later, Mr Cleverly told Times Radio that there had been heavy engagement with the different communities in Northern Ireland.

He said: “We took the voices from both the communities, the businesses, and of course, the elected representatives in Northern Ireland very, very seriously, when we negotiated this deal. And the seven tests from the DUP were very much in our mind as we put the proposals together.”

He went on: “I’m confident that what we have done has addressed those important issues, it protects Northern Ireland’s place within the UK, it makes sure that goods travelling within the UK that’s from GB to Northern Ireland can do so effortlessly. And that the tax treatments that we decide in the UK Government apply to the whole of the UK, not just bits of it, that products can flow within the UK’s internal market effortlessly.

“Those are the things that we wanted to achieve. And ultimately, one of the things that really, really mattered, was to make sure that the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives had a genuine say in the rules that affected them. And through the Stormont brake, that’s exactly what we’ve put in place.”

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