Corbyn moves against Brexit! – towards government of national unity

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A no-deal Brexit holds no terrors for workers, as this demonstration outside Parliament shows

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has written to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill asking him to rule out a no-deal Brexit on October 31, reneging on Labour’s 2017 General Election manifesto pledge to support the ‘Leave’ result of the 2016 EU referendum.

This pledge saw Labour wipe out then-PM May’s parliamentary majority, and opened up the prospect of a Labour government coming to office.

Corbyn’s plea to Sedwill will be seen by millions of workers as a betrayal of this election manifesto pledge and also as an attempt to convince anti-Brexit Tory MPs to make him the leader of a ‘Government of National Unity’ to stop Brexit.

He wrote:

‘Dear Mark Sedwill,

‘You will no doubt be aware of press speculation that, even if Parliament votes that it has no confidence in the current Conservative government, the Prime Minister could attempt to force through a disastrous No Deal Brexit by scheduling a general election after the UK is due to leave the European Union on 31 October.

‘Forcing through No Deal against a decision of Parliament, and denying the choice to the voters in a general election already underway, would be an unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power by a Prime Minister elected, not by the public, but by a small number of unrepresentative Conservative Party members.

‘I am therefore writing to seek your urgent clarification on the proper application of “Purdah” rules in such a scenario and the constitutional implications of failing to abide by those rules.

‘As you will be aware, Purdah guidance makes clear that “decisions on matters of policy on which a new government might be expected to want the opportunity to take a different view from the present government should be postponed until after the election, provided that such postponement would not be detrimental to the national interest or wasteful of public money.”

‘As government assessments make clear, a No Deal Brexit would have a deeply damaging impact on the economy, with serious consequences for jobs, living standards and industry in this country. A Labour government will never support a No Deal exit, so would of course “want the opportunity to take a different view.”

‘I would therefore be grateful for your confirmation that, if the UK is due to leave the EU without a deal during a general election campaign, the government should seek a time-limited extension to Article 50, to let the electorate decide and the incoming government to take the next steps on the basis of the voters’ wishes.

‘As this is a matter of public interest, I am making this letter public.

‘Yours sincerely,

‘Jeremy Corbyn MP

‘Leader of the Labour Party.’