Labour split over Brexit as MPs back rebel amendment

49 rebel Labour MPs backed a call to stay in the single market

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Thursday 29 June 2017 18:34
Chuka Umunna proposes rebel backbench motion that would keep Britian in EU if May failed to get deal

Dozens of Labour MPs have backed a rebel backbench motion that would keep Britain in the EU were Theresa May fail to negotiate a deal.

The amendment to the Queen’s Speech, proposed by MP Chuka Umunna, is at odds with Labour’s front bench, which says leaving the EU is settled as an issue.

49 Labour MPs voted for the backbench motion, which also says the UK should stay in the single market and Customs Union. The amendment was defeated by 101 votes to 322, with 34 SNP, 12 Lib Dem, 4 Plaid Cymru, 1 Green and 1 Independent MP also backing the motion.

The result of the vote emphasises the split in the opposition party about how to deal with Britain leaving the EU.

Labour’s manifesto says the party “accepts the referendum result and will put the national interest first”.

It says it would “prioritise jobs and living standards, build a close new relationship with the EU, protect workers’ rights and environmental standards, provide certainty to EU nationals and give a meaningful role to Parliament throughout the negotiations”.

The party’s leadership wants Parliament to be given a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal and says Britain should negotiate a deal that provides exactly the same benefits of staying in the single market.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna proposed the amendment, which was defeated with 101 votes

However the backbench amendment proposed by Mr Umunna goes further and wants the Government to “rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal”, and “set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market”.

The full text of the amendment suggests that the House of Commons “respectfully regret that the Gracious Speech does not rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal, guarantee a Parliamentary vote on any final outcome to negotiations, set out transitional arrangements to maintain jobs, trade and certainty for business, set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market, set out clear measures to respect the competencies of the devolved administrations, and include clear protections for EU nationals living in the UK now, including retaining their right to remain in the UK, and reciprocal rights for UK citizens”.

The motion was backed by Labour MPs including John Woodcock, Luciana Berder, Ben Bradshaw, and Mike Gapes.

Liberal Democrats including Sir Vince Cable and Tim Farron signed the motion, as well as SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs support it.

Theresa May said at the start of the year in her Lancaster House speech that Britain will be leaving the single market and customs union.

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