Corbyn calls for Customs Union and Single Market

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‘IT IS TIME for Parliament to take control,’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday, responding to Tory PM May’s statement to Parliament on the Brexit crisis.

He confirmed that Labour will be backing the amendment calling for a number of indicative votes.

Corbyn began his speech by thanking her for meetings with him over the last few days.

He said: ‘Given that the Prime Minister admitted that she has does not have the numbers for her deal, will she accept today that her deal is dead and that the House should not have its time wasted getting the same answer for a third time.

‘The Prime Minister has succeeded in unifying two sides against her deal. The CBI and the TUC unprecedented joint statement last week demanded a plan B which protects jobs, workers, industry and communities. Has the Prime Minister got a plan B?’

He concluded: ‘Will she agree to abide by the outcome of these indicative votes, if they take place on Wednesday?

‘On behalf of the Labour Party, we will continue cross party discussions to find a way forward.

‘I believe there is support in this House for a deal, based on an alternative that protects jobs, the economy, through a Customs Union and full Single Market access and allows us to continue the benefit from participation in vital agencies and security measures.

‘If the government refuses to accept this we will support measures for a public vote to stop a no deal or chaotic Tory deal.’

May replied: ‘The right honourable gentleman ended by saying it is now time for the House to decide, but up until now the House has not decided, the House has had many chances to put amendments down.

‘The House has voted twice on the right honourable gentleman’s plans on the future and rejected them, it has voted to reject no deal, it has also voted to reject a second referendum.

‘He asked whether the government would commit to abide by the indicative votes. My statement clearly said that I cannot commit the government to delivering the outcome of any votes delivered by this House.

‘You just think about this for a moment, first of all we don’t know what the options are going to be before they are tabled, secondly we don’t know what will be selected.

‘But there is another point I think that is important, that no one would want to support an option which contradicted the manifesto on which they stood for election to this House.’

In her statement she outlined the EU’s position on an extension of Article 50 and the plan for Parliament this week.

She told the House of Commons: ‘Extending Article 50 always required the unanimous agreement of the other 27 member states.

‘As I have made clear before, it was never guaranteed that the EU would agree with the extension or the terms on which we requested it, and they did not.

‘Instead the council agrees that, if the House agrees, the Withdrawal Agreement this week, our departure will be extended to 11pm on 22nd of May.

‘This will allow time for Parliament to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill which is legally required for the deal to be ratified.

‘But if the House does not approve the Withdrawal Agreement this week, our departure will instead only be extended to 11pm on 12th of April.

‘At this point we would either leave with no deal or we would indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council. If this involved a further extension it would certainly mean participation in the European Parliamentary elections.’

Tory William Cash, MP for Stone in Staffordshire, questioned the legality of not leaving on March 29th as it is written in law.

He said: ‘The statutory instruments for extension of time were made just one hour ago.

‘There is grave concern that there was no lawful UK authority for the decision on March 22 to extend the exit date.

‘Did the Prime Minister seek the Attorney General’s advice beforehand which is clearly required by both the Ministerial Code and the Cabinet Manual and will she publish that advice?

‘Why did she not evoke the commencement order for section one of the Withdrawal Act, repealing the European Communities Act 1972?’

Avoiding the question, May replied: ‘This House has supported an extension of Article 50. People are saying to me that I have not listened to the House, the House was clear that an extension of Article 50 should be sought and an extension was agreed.’