JOHN McDONNELL, Labour’s shadow chancellor said yesterday that Labour will vote down May’s Brexit deal, will not accept No Deal, and instead will propose a deal with exactly the same relationship between the EU and the UK as now, in other words Remain.
He was speaking at a special session in Parliament on the economic effects of Brexit.
He proposed Labour’s ‘alternative deal’ saying: ‘Labour would prioritise a permanent and comprehensive Customs Union in which Britain has a say in future trade deals.
‘We will deliver a strong collaborative relationship with the Single Market and, yes, will guarantee that the UK does not fall behind in rights for workers, consumers and the environment.’
When asked by News Line how Labour is going to get their ‘alternative deal’, the Labour Party press office said: ‘If May fails to negotiate Labour’s deal, there should be a general election so that Labour can negotiate a deal with the EU.’
May called an ‘informal meeting’ at Downing Street to give her cabinet ministers a ‘Brexit update’ yesterday afternoon as the news broke that Stephen Lloyd had quit the Lib Dem group of MPs over Brexit.
Lloyd said that he has quit the party’s group in Parliament so he can vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Meanwhile, Graham Brady the chair of the Tories 1922 Committee said: ‘There is one point in the agreement which is on the table which causes a big difficulty for a lot of members of Parliament.
‘And that is, that if we were to enter the so-called “backstop arrangement” it is possible that the EU would keep us in that arrangement indefinitely even if we wanted to leave it.
‘So what I, and a great many members of Parliament would really like is just the reassurance that this is a mechanism for bringing that to an end. And we have been told that the other EU countries don’t like the backstop, that they wouldn’t want Britain to stay in the backstop.
‘We have been told by the Attorney General himself, that the backstop arrangement is illegal under EU law. So if it is illegal and nobody wants it, I can’t see why there would not be any objection to providing either an end date, you know, in three years time, or what ever it might be, where we would automatically leave that arrangement or some other kind of mechanism just to make sure that we could leave if circumstances demanded it.’
Asked by Sky News whether the PM should delay the vote on her Brexit deal, Brady answered: ‘I don’t think that there is any point in ploughing ahead and losing the vote heavily. What I would like is to have the reassurance necessary that will answer the concerns that colleagues have and let people come in behind it. Now if that can be be done by Tuesday that’s fine.
‘We can vote either for the government’s motion or maybe an amendment to it, that gives that extra reassurance. But, if that reassurance isn’t available by Tuesday then there really is no sense in proceeding to a vote and losing it heavily.’
On the question of how many MPs have handed in letters of no-confidence in May to The 1922 Committee, and whether there will be enough to trigger a leadership election, he would not be drawn, stating that that is ‘confidential’.