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June 13, 2019

Labour MPs rebel to block efforts to stop no-deal

World

P
Pa
June 13, 2019

LONDON: Eight Labour MPs ignored party orders to support efforts to stop a no-deal, despite warnings of a Tory “arms race” to promise the most damaging Brexit.

Abstentions also dented Labour’s bid to allow MPs to take control of the Commons agenda on June 25 as part of an attempt to block the UK leaving the EU without a deal on October 31. But the motion was defeated by 309 votes to 298, majority 11, despite 10 Conservative MPs rebelling to support it.

Those Labour MPs who rebelled to oppose the motion included Sir Kevin Barron (Rother Valley), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Caroline Flint (Don Valley), Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow), Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), John Mann (Bassetlaw) and Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had earlier urged MPs to support the measures in order to introduce a “safety valve” into the Brexit process given some of the promises being made by Tory leadership candidates.

This includes some of them refusing to rule out proroguing Parliament in order to force the UK’s EU departure on October 31, with Sir Keir arguing the Opposition was trying to “make sure Parliament cannot be locked out”.

He also said of the Tory leadership race: “It’s become an arms race to promise the most damaging form of Brexit or to make the most absurd or undeliverable promises. No wonder (Boris Johnson) is the frontrunner against that criteria.”

He criticised former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab for suggesting Parliament could be temporarily shut down to allow a no-deal Brexit, and later joked his campaign website said on Tuesday: “Access to dominicraab2019.com is denied because it belongs to a category that we blocked to protect customers using the parliamentary network.”

Sir Keir added: “Quite right too.” Conservative former minister Steve Brine joked: “I always knew parliamentary ICT people would get it right in the end.” Tory Sir Oliver Letwin had urged colleagues to back the motion, warning it was the only opportunity they would have to stop a no-deal Brexit as there was potentially only four weeks in September and October in which Parliament will be sitting.

He said of those hoping to succeed May: “They know they only have to occupy four weeks of doing nothing and we’re out. Although it isn’t a fast burning fuse, it is a bomb the fuse of which is already burning. If we don’t put the fuse out now, we won’t be able to dissemble the bomb in September or October, and that’s why it is wrong to say this is premature.”

But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay accused Labour of pushing a “blind motion”, which lacked detail about the potential legislation it could enable to come forward. Barclay also said Sir Keir suggested a new Tory prime minister would be limited and unable to secure a change to the backstop, adding: “His own position is under a Labour prime minister of course a new prime minister would be able to go to Brussels and secure (changes). So within (Sir Keir’s) remarks one can see contradictions inherent within this motion.”

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