LABOUR COULD VOTE WITH MAY SAYS THORNBERRY – who helped draw up Universal Credit

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Demonstration outside Parliament against Universal Credit
Demonstration outside Parliament against Universal Credit

LABOUR’S Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry confirmed on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning that Labour could vote along with PM May on the Brexit issue, and that she was not opposed to Universal Credit in principle.

She was asked: ‘And if Theresa May is relying on the Labour Party to save her bacon in this forthcoming vote she can think again.’ Thornberry replied: ‘No, Theresa May must come back with a deal, as we have been saying for the last two years entirely consistently, that you have to come back with a deal that will pass our six tests. ‘If it does, then fine, we will vote for it, but if it doesn’t meet our tests we will not.’

Earlier Marr said: ‘Let’s turn to Brexit. It seems quite likely – we don’t know yet – it seems pretty likely that the Prime Minister is going to come back to the House of Commons with a deal which would involve staying inside the Customs Union for some considerable time, until we resolve the Irish border problem. Would Labour back that?’

Thornberry responded: ‘We said that we wanted to have a meaningful vote and we cannot see why we should have, on the one hand, the Theresa May nonsense and on the other hand no deal, because that’s what they’re threatening us with. ‘We said a meaningful vote, we want to have a meaningful vote, and frankly, if she comes back with something which is just a fudge that she’s cooked up with Brussels and it doesn’t meet our test we’re not going to vote for it.

‘The British people are not stupid, we’re not stupid, we’re not voting for something which is essentially a bridge to nowhere. ‘We need to know what our future relationship with Europe is going to be, and a fudge won’t fix it… we need to be perfectly clear that we have to remain in a Customs Union which includes services.

‘On top of that we need to be able to negotiate a free trade deal with them which means that we can start talking about what the rules and regulations are that will be applicable, and then that way we can start negotiating on things like immigration and the other elements which are important.’

On Universal Credit, Thornberry who helped draw up the measure, was asked: ‘Are you going to replace Universal Credit entirely as a party?’ She responded: ‘We need to have a root and branch reform of Universal Credit I was on the committee – I was the person in charge of the committee when Universal Credit was being brought in and we warned them. ‘I know because it’s my words – we warned them about all the problems there were going to be.’

When informed by Marr that ‘John McDonnell announces it has to go. No ifs, no buts, the thing has to go,’ she responded: ‘We have to have a fundamental reform of it. ‘I mean, this is – the principle of having a simpler benefit is fine. There are things that are fundamentally wrong with Universal Credit. The principle is one that we don’t have a problem with, but it has always been how it works.’