The Labour Party has proposed an amendment to Theresa May’s Commons vote next week on her Plan B – lambasted by all asides as being remarkably similar to her Plan A for EU withdrawal.
Despite a record defeat for her EU withdrawal Bill last week, Theresa May insisted she will seek another reframing of the backstop uncertainty to make her Brexit deal more palatable.
Jeremy Corbyn welcomed Theresa May’s U-turn on charging EU citizens to confirm their settled status in the UK, but insisted yesterday that the Prime Minister “face reality, and accept her deal has been comprehensively defeated.”
He added: “This really does feel like Groundhog Day.”
Corbyn’s amendment to her “Plan B vote” next week could well unite many MPs in parliament and opens a path forward through the Brexit deadlock.
That said, it’s already being attacked by all sides.
But for MPs backing a Norway-plus Brexit as the least economically harmful it offers hope, as well as for those calling for the people to have the final say in a new referendum.
And importantly, it calls for more parliamentary time to deliver Brexit.
Today the Labour Leader made clear that the Prime Minister was not serious about negotiating with other party leaders as they all found her inflexible and she still refuses to rule out the threat of a no deal Brexit which her own government’s research found would lead to an economically devastating 8% GDP collapse and 7% unemployment.
The Labour amendment rules out a no deal Brexit.
Here it is in full. The amendment:
“requires ministers to secure sufficient time for the UK Parliament to consider and vote on options to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. Those options should include:
i) negotiating changes to the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration so as to secure a permanent customs union with the EU, a strong relationship with the single market underpinned by shared institutions and obligations, and dynamic alignment on rights and standards, in order to command a majority in the House of Commons
ii) Legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition that has commanded the support of the majority of the House of Commons.”
The amendment paradoxically was greeted by many supporters of a people’s vote with suspicion as it did not spell out a public vote with a no Brexit option, and was slammed by the right wing press for opening the door for a people’s vote and no Brexit.
“You simply can’t trust Labour to keep their promise to respect the result of the referendum,” said Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis, “they are more interested in playing political games than delivering in the national interest.”
But the amendment outlines perhaps the only two achievable ways forward. Parliament deciding on a Norway plus deal that many MPs believe is the only realistically achievable compromise that would deliver Brexit without damaging trade, business and rights, as well as giving MPs the chance to offer the public final say to break the current divisive impasse.
So it brings a realistic compromise on Brexit closer as well as opening discussions on the public having a second referendum to give people the final say.
The motion signed by Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer and other senior Labour figures appeared to finally unite their party and turns the tables on Conservatives who in contrast appear on the verge of implosion. According to Amber Rudd, 40 of her Tory colleagues will resign from the party if Theresa May bans them for voting for a plan to stop a disastrous Brexit with no deal whatsoever.
Labour believe their amendment is in line with the party’s conference motion agreed in September and should silence critics who have accused the party leadership of ignoring members.
The Labour Brexit proposal of a permanent customs union, relationship with the single market and alignment on rights and standards could command a majority in the House of Commons where May’s deal with its perpetual backstop failed to.
Jeremy Corbyn said: “Theresa May has shown today that she has no Plan B after the comprehensive rejection of her botched Brexit deal by MPs last week.
“The prime minister is both refusing to change her red lines or take the threat of a no deal exit off the table. MPs must now act to break the deadlock.
“Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a No Deal.
“It is time for Labour’s alternative plan to take centre stage, while keeping all options on the table, including the option of a public vote.”
Conservative hard Brexiteers will condemn Labour’s plan that puts seamless trade with the EU through the Customs Union and access to the Single Market first as preventing Britain exploring trade deals outside the EU.
But realistically, what other option is there apart from crashing out of the EU with no deal, losing access to all trade deals negotiated through the EU, the mere preparations for which are currently costing the UK £171,000 an hour.