LABOUR Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has ordered Labour MPs to back the Bill that allows the government to trigger the Brexit process.
The Bill asks parliament to give government the right to evoke Article 50 triggering the process of leaving the European Union. After days of equivocation Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday: ‘It is clearly a three line whip. We will put out a statement today that we want them to vote for Article 50.’
Labour MPs who defy a three-line whip risk being forced to resign as shadow cabinet ministers and also deselection as MPs. Corbyn continued: ‘I fully understand the pressures and issues that members are under. Those who represent Leave constituencies, and those who represent Remain constituencies.
‘Labour is in the almost unique position of having MPs representing constituencies in both directions and very strongly … I am asking all of our MPs not to block Article 50.’
All Liberal MPs, some Labour MPs and a few Tory MPs have vowed to vote against the Bill, defying the will of the people, the majority of whom voted for Brexit. If enough MPs vote against and the House of Lords rejects it, Britain will face its greatest constitutional crisis since the 17th century civil war.
Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn and the shadow minister for Early Years, said: ‘Three quarters of my constituents voted to Remain and I will stand up for them. If it means stepping down from the front bench then that would be unfortunate – but it’s something which I’ve considered.’
Other shadow ministers including Dawn Butler, Catherine West and Clive Lewis have also indicated that they will oppose Article 50.
The Bill states: ‘A Bill to Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.
‘Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:–
‘1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU
‘(1) The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.
‘(2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.’
The Bill is due to be initially debated by MPs on Tuesday – in a sitting that may last until midnight. It will then be voted on in the House of Commons on February 8th, after which it will move to the House of Lords. There will be a large number of amendments. The House of Lords has over 100 Liberal peers, meaning it has the power to deliberately halt the process.
Meanwhile, Tory PM Theresa May vowed she will tell US president Donald Trump, ‘We have the opportunity to lead (the world), together, again,’ in her first meeting with him today. She will address Republican leaders at an event attended by the US president in Philadelphia.
She will say: ‘The UK is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world. And as we end our membership of the European Union, we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.
‘So as we rediscover our confidence together – as you renew your nation just as we renew ours – we have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to renew the special relationship for this new age.’