TORY Justice Secretary David Gauke indicated yesterday that besieged PM May will seek to put her Withdrawal Agreement with a permanent Customs Union tagged onto it to the House of Commons for a fourth ‘meaningful vote’ later this week or early next.
Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson said that he believed that Labour MPs would vote for it ‘if it’s underpinned by a People’s Vote’.
Today, MPs are holding more ‘indicative votes’ on their anti-Brexit alternatives which were all voted down last week, with a Customs Union with the EU thought to be the most likely preference.
Appearing on the BBC’s Marr Show, Gauke said it would ‘not be sustainable’ to ignore MPs if they voted for ‘a softer Brexit’.
He said: ‘I think we need to see precisely what the will of Parliament is. That hasn’t yet been determined. At the moment all we’ve seen is Parliament voting against things, but I think we have to work out what the choices are for us.’
Marr said: ‘If the Commons votes for a Customs Union should the prime minister try to negotiate that?’
Gauke replied: ‘I think she would need to look very closely at that.
‘But to give you an example, if Parliament is voting overwhelmingly against leaving the European Union without a deal, but is voting in favour of a softer Brexit then I don’t think it’s sustainable to say well we’ll ignore Parliament’s position and therefore leave without a deal. I don’t think that’s a sustainable position for the government to take.’
Marr interjected: ‘Legally the default option at the moment is to leave with no deal.’
Gauke went on: ‘The prime minister has been very clear that when the will of Parliament is so clear, with the overwhelming majority of Parliament voting against leaving without a deal, that Parliament is not going to allow us to go down that route and that is not the course of action that she will take.’
Interviewing Watson, Marr said: ‘It looks as if MPs are going to gather round some form of softer Brexit and vote that through perhaps tomorrow…
‘If the Speaker selects Ken Clarke, the Father of the House’s version of a common market customs union-based arrangement, will Labour MPs vote in numbers for that?’
Watson replied: ‘Whatever the deal looks like – and we understand there has to be compromises – if it’s underpinned by a People’s Vote that is the way we can bring the country back together.’
Asked: ‘Are you saying today, another referendum will be in Labour’s Manifesto?’ Watson replied: ‘It seems to me inconceivable that if there’s a General Election tomorrow… that the people’s vote will not be in that manifesto.’
Asked: ‘Is the party now preparing for European elections as well as for a General Election imminently?’ Watson replied: ‘Yes, I’ve spoken to Jeremy last night. He’s putting us on election footing. I’m going to be talking to our NEC members later today, because obviously we need to reselect our sitting MPs ready for a General Election.
‘And if there are European elections, and it seems to me whatever the outcome of Brexit we’re going to go beyond that trigger date on the negotiations, we will be ready for European elections and we want our members to decide who our candidates are.’
Marr then interviewed former Tory PM Sir John Major who called for a national government.
He said: ‘We are going to need a government that has a clear majority or we’re going to have the sort of constitutional chaos we have at the moment stretching for a very long time ahead.
‘Now there are only two ways to get such a government. One is a General Election that produces a clear working majority for one of the parties. Not impossible, but very unlikely that it would produce a clear working majority. The other alternative is to have some form of unity or national government.’