MIL-OSI UK: May snubs compromise as Labour moves to ‘third phase’ of Brexit policy

Source: Labour List UK

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Just days after the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal – the largest defeat of any government in modern history, let us not hesitate to repeat – Theresa May is expected to return to parliament with the same plan. In a conference call last night, the Prime Minister reportedly told her cabinet that she doesn’t intent to change course. Instead, she will aim to win enough Tory and DUP support to get her deal through by seeking assurances on the backstop. Sound familiar? Possibly because that’s exactly what she vowed to do over Christmas.

How will she do it? The EU hasn’t, as hoped, changed its mind on the backstop after watching MPs reject the deal – after all, Ireland is still a member, and the backstop was actually May’s demand in the first place, and it only survives as an idea due to her red lines. There are rumours that she’d like to amend the Good Friday Agreement, which is clearly not viable. Another scheme involves a bilateral treaty with Ireland, which the Irish government has already quashed.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to turn down May’s invite to Brexit talks last week? According to our latest survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, 60% of LabourList readers think he made the right call. It’s clear that the cross-party discussions were indeed a “stunt” and the PM had no intention of changing course until having at least one more go at convincing her party and confidence-and-supply partner. She knows that opting for customs union membership would split the Conservative Party, and why risk being that Tory leader? But, in her statement to the Commons today, May will no doubt place the blame on Corbyn for the failure of cross-party talks. Labour can only hope the public realise she is prioritising party unity above the national interest.

Over the weekend, Labour’s Brexit position developed when Keir Starmer gave a speech at the Fabians conference (read the full text here – note that LL gets a mention – and our key takeaways here). The headlines are that Labour is at the ‘third phase’ of its policy set out at conference, i.e. the alternative Brexit plan or backing a public vote. Again, the leadership won’t be moving swiftly onto the latter now that May has rejected compromise, but will instead wait to see how long her stubborn approach holds.

What’s clear is that Labour considers Article 50 extension “inevitable”, to quote Starmer, and this is important in deciding whether to support Yvette Cooper’s latest amendment. Although the opposition wants to make clear that responsibility for delaying Brexit lies with the government, Labour also wants to block ‘no deal’. Cooper’s move would give MPs a vote on whether to extend Article 50 if no agreement has been reached by the end of February, i.e. stop May running the clock down any further.

In what could become crucial in any future cross-party agreement, Starmer conceded on Marr the next day that “at this stage, any deal probably does require a backstop”. But if May does succeed in getting her ‘Plan B’ through with Tory and DUP votes, it is the Shadow Brexit Secretary’s other admissions that matter. “It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” he said of the key pledge about all options remaining on the table. The idea of another referendum, which has “significant support” among Labour members and some MPs, “has to be an option for Labour”, he added.

While answering audience questions, Starmer described himself as “a fan” of the Brexit citizens’ assembly idea, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”. These are all largely shifts in tone rather than substance, but many MPs like to point out that Starmer has succeeded in softening the Labour position at every crunch moment. Could his backing for a further “injection of democracy” in the Brexit process break the camel’s back, or ultimately – like the backstop and extending Article 50 – become inevitable?

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn right to refuse talks with May, say 60% of LabourList readers

Source: Labour List UK

Over 60% of our readers believe that Jeremy Corbyn was right to refuse “substantive” Brexit talks with Theresa May last week, the latest LabourList survey has found.

After the government suffered a historic defeat on its Brexit deal, then survived a no-confidence vote called by the Labour leader, the Prime Minister invited opposition party leaders to engage in talks.

But Corbyn said no “positive” discussions could be had unless she took ‘no deal’ off the table, which May refused to do. Labour MPs were divided on the issue, with some agreeing that talks were pointless without the assurance and others concerned about public reaction.

The results of the weekly LabourList survey, which attracted 5,625 responses, showed 60.3% of readers agreed with the Labour leader’s recent decision on the cross-party talks, while almost 34% said they disagreed with his position.

The poll also found that around 52% of readers believe the Labour Party’s priority should be to stop Brexit. 2,438 respondents, just over 44%, said alternatively that Labour should prioritise securing the best deal.

Below is a detailed breakdown of the questions and readers’ responses.

Was Jeremy Corbyn right to refuse “substantive” talks with Theresa May until she rules out ‘no-deal’ Brexit?

  1. Yes – 60.3% (3,333)
  2. No – 33.9% (1.871)
  3. Don’t know – 5.8% (323)

Other than force a general election, what should be Labour’s top priority?

  1. Try to stop Brexit – 52.1% (2,880)
  2. Secure the best Brexit deal –44.1% (2,438)
  3. Don’t know – 3.8% (209)

Who are your top three shadow cabinet members?

First choice:

  1. Keir Starmer – 2,171
  2. John McDonnell – 1,877
  3. Emily Thornberry – 519

Second choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,244
  2. Keir Starmer – 1,171
  3. Tom Watson – 1,023

Third choice:

  1. Emily Thornberry – 1,372
  2. Tom Watson – 855
  3. Keir Starmer – 713
1st 2nd 3rd
Andrew Gwynne 12 23 49
Andy McDonald 2 11 37
Angela Rayner 100 178 258
Barry Gardiner 65 158 211
Christina Rees 2 3 8
Dan Carden 2 15 25
Dawn Butler 9 29 90
Diane Abbott 137 505 482
Emily Thornberry 519 1,244 1,372
John Healey 8 20 48
John McDonnell 1,877 762 629
Jon Ashworth 37 52 120
Jon Trickett 4 11 23
Keir Starmer 2,171 1,171 713
Margaret Greenwood 1 13 20
Nia Griffith 21 74 245
Rebecca Long-Bailey 21 117 165
Richard Burgon 22 72 114
Sue Hayman 19 28 31
Tom Watson 495 1,023 855
Tony Lloyd 3 11 22

The aggregated results show that Keir Starmer, John McDonnell and Emily Thornberry were the most popular Labour frontbenchers among LabourList readers last week, with 4,055, 3,268 and 3,135 votes respectively.

A small number of readers got in touch to say that they did not notice the scroll bar when answering the third survey question. We will therefore aim to run the most popular shadow cabinet members question again this week in a different, clearer format.

The survey was open from 4.30pm on Thursday 17th January until 8pm on Sunday 20th January. Thank you to all 5,625 readers who took part.

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MIL-OSI UK: Sunday shows round-up: Starmer, Benn, Lammy and Cooper on Brexit

Source: Labour List UK

The Andrew Marr Show

Keir Starmer expressed many of the same views set out in his Fabians conference speech on Saturday, including that delaying Brexit by extending Article 50 is now inevitable and that Labour’s policy is in its ‘third phase’. He also conceded that any Brexit deal at this stage would “probably” require a backstop.

  • On Theresa May’s deal: “I have said for two years we will faithfully look at any deal that is brought back, which is what we did on Tuesday.”
  • On compromise and cross-party talks: “If she… said, my red lines have gone, I’m not going to hold a gun to your heads about no deal, that would shift the position incredibly.”
  • On the backstop: “At this stage any deal probably does require a backstop, and we’ve got to recognise that… There are problems with this backstop and we have got to recognise that. But because we are in this stage of the exercise, nearly two years in, the chances now of a deal that doesn’t have a backstop are very, very slim.”
  • On extending Article 50: “It’s extremely difficult to see how the Prime Minister can achieve what needs to be achieved in 68 days and therefore I think it is inevitable Article 50 is going to be extended. And the blame with that lies with the Prime Minister.”

Hilary Benn, Labour MP for Leeds Central and Brexit select committee chair:

  • On reports that in his office on Monday “backbench plotters” will meet to give control of the Brexit process to the Commons: “MPs doing their job are not plotters, they are trying to sort out the mess the Prime Minister has created. We are facing a national crisis and there are many MPs in the House of Commons whose first priority is to ensure that we do not leave without a deal. And therefore finding ways when we come to table amendments this week and debate on the 29th January how we stop that.”
  • On accusations that Commons officials have acted with bias: “To attack House of Commons clerks and suggest they’re part of a conspiracy is a disgrace. Our clerks are resolutely impartial.”
  • On breaking the deadlock: “I think we have to compromise because parliament is deadlocked and the Prime Minister can’t get around that.”
  • On indicative votes: “I’m in favour of parliament voting on a series of options to see if there’s one that can command majority support.”

Ridge on Sunday

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham:

  • On securing a Brexit deal: “I would prefer a soft Brexit, somewhere like Norway, to Theresa May’s botched deal… I could only vote for it on the basis that there was a final say referendum.”
  • On Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit position: “He’s moving the goalposts and I’ve been very clear on that… It seems to me there is no point in continuing with votes of no confidence, throwing darts and missing the board… I think that Jeremy has been hedging.”
  • On a Labour split: “There is a small group in our party who are so frustrated, who have so much grievance, the fear is that they are going to go off and form another party.  I personally reject that but the danger is, just like 1983, a new party built around basically a relationship with Europe keeps the Labour Party out of power for a generation.”

Pienaar’s Politics

Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish and Shadow Local Government Secretary:

  • On Labour talks with May: “In terms of opening the door to meaningful negotiations with us, all she’s got to do is give us a verbal commitment that she will do everything possible to prevent a no deal.”

Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley:

  • On the way forward for Brexit: “Get ‘no deal’ off the table, but get Remain off the table as well, so we can focus on what needs to be done. There’s too much shenanigans, too much process, not enough substance going on amongst politicians.”

Westminster Hour

Yvette Cooper, Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, who has a new bill and an amendment (with Nick Boles) to take ‘no deal’ off the table:

  • On her bill to allow parliament to demand an extension of Article 50: “If we’re still in this paralysis by the end of February, we just have to be sensible and recognise that we may need more time… The plan is to put forward a simple amendment to the Prime Minister’s Plan B motion that there was parliamentary time for [the bill].”
  • On the length of Article 50 extension: “It proposes an extension until the end of the year, but that’s amendable.”
  • On support for her bill: “I’ve talked to the [Labour] frontbench… My understanding is that there are government ministers who also want this bill to pull through.”

Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington and shadow Brexit minister:

  • On Labour supporting Cooper’s bill: “That’s a decision for Nick Brown and the shadow cabinet… I think there will be widespread for this in parliament.”

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MIL-OSI UK: What we learnt from Keir Starmer’s Brexit speech today

Source: Labour List UK

Keir Starmer delivered a 2,000-word speech and answered the questions of Labour activists at the Fabian conference this morning. The frontbencher covered the failures of the Tory government during the Brexit negotiations and the next steps for Labour policy. Here’s what we learned…

Labour will keep trying to force a general election.

“Wednesday’s no confidence vote was just the beginning of Labour’s efforts to secure a general election – not the end,” Starmer said in his speech. “Securing a general election is – and always will be – our priority as it’s the only way to deliver the radical change this country needs.”

After the government survived the no-confidence vote on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson did not rule out tabling another such motion at a later date, possibly before the Prime Minister has returned to parliament with a substantive ‘Plan B’ for Brexit.

“Motions of confidence can happen more than once,” the spokesperson said earlier this week. This was confirmed again as the Labour leader’s line in his Hastings speech: “We will come back with [a motion of no-confidence] again if necessary.”

Labour will keep its conference motion commitment.

At Labour conference in September, the Brexit composite motion unanimously passed by delegates pledged: “If we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.”

Following phase one (voting down Theresa May’s deal) and phase two (seeking an election), Starmer confirmed that we are now “at the third phase of our policy”. He went on to describe the key pledge about “all options remaining on the table” as “a very important commitment”.

“It’s a commitment to you, our members and our movement. And it is one we will keep,” Starmer promised in his speech today.

Four options have been ruled out: May’s deal, no deal, Canada model, hard Irish border.

Starmer ruled out two options today. First, supporting the Prime Minister’s deal, “or any tweaked version of it that may materialise”. The Brexit spokesperson explained: “The deal is so flawed, it is so far from meeting our tests, and the parliamentary opposition to is so great that this can no longer be considered a credible option. A majority of 230 speaks for itself.”

It is of some interest that he said “this can no longer be considered a credible option” – as if it were a credible option at one point. There had been rumours towards the end of 2018 that Labour could countenance backing a version of May’s deal, particularly as many argue (and Barry Gardiner has acknowledged) that only the non-legally-binding political declaration part of the divorce deal would need changing.

Second, leaving without a deal. This one came as no surprise, as the entire parliamentary Labour Party agrees (apart from Kate Hoey). “No deal simply is not acceptable to us – it never has been. The damaging impact of no deal to people across the country is so profound that no one should be casual about it,” Starmer said.

Third, the Canada model favoured by some Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. “A free-trade deal along the lines of CETA – the so-called Canada model – is not acceptable,” Starmer said. “A CETA-style deal would weaken workers’ rights, consumer and environmental standards. It wouldn’t protect supply chains which are vital for our manufacturing industry. And it wouldn’t prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.”

Finally, any Brexit deal that lead to a hard Irish border.

Two options remain: Labour’s alternative plan and a public vote.

Starmer clearly set out that after ruling out all of the above, there are only two options for Labour: “1) Instructing the Government to negotiate a close economic relationship with the EU” and “2) As our conference motion sets out, the option of a public vote”.

The Shadow Brexit Secretary conceded that Labour’s alternative plan is “far from perfect” and “involves trade-offs and compromises”. He also acknowledged that the other option, a fresh EU referendum, has “significant support” among Labour members and some Labour MPs. He emphasised that this “has to be an option for Labour”.

Responding to audience questions on a ‘people’s vote’, Starmer said: “We’re no longer in the position we were in two years ago. We’re asking a different question, which is how to crash out without a deal. In those circumstances, we have to consider the options laid out in my speech.”

Starmer thinks we probably won’t leave the EU on 29th March.

“We also need to recognise that – whichever of these options we pursue – the 29th March deadline looks increasingly unlikely to be met,” he said. Listing the pieces of legislation still needing MPs’ approval, Starmer concluded that Article 50 extension is “inevitable”.

Asked whether the EU elections taking place this year would affect that extension, Starmer replied: “It’s a pretty open secret that the EU have at least discussed extending until 1st July.” European Labour Party leader Richard Corbett has similarly advised in the past that extension until July would be feasible without the need to hold European parliamentary elections in the UK in May.

Starmer is interested in the idea of a Brexit citizens’ assembly.

Last month, Neil Lawson of Compass called for a Brexit citizens’ assembly, whereby a representative sample of the public would make a recommendation on the outcome. The idea has since been supported by MPs including Lisa Nandy and Stella Creasy. Starmer revealed today that he is “a fan”, saying: “We’ve got to bring people back into these discussions, whether it’s through citizens’ assemblies or other means”.

Keir Starmer reads LabourList.

We already knew that. But he has now also quoted a LabourList piece in a key Brexit speech. He said:

“But as Andrew Harrop pointed out in LabourList last weekend: “In this moment of national crisis, [Labour] has a responsibility not just to oppose but to offer a constructive path forward.” I agree. It’s now time for an open and frank debate about how we break the deadlock.”

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MIL-OSI UK: A new Brexit date, but no new Brexit plan

Source: Labour List UK

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We’ve got a new Brexit vote date: 29th January. But there’s no sign of a new Brexit plan from Theresa May, who engaged in cross-party talks yesterday that appeared to be purely performative. Jeremy Corbyn did his best to get some movement going. As discussed in yesterday’s email, the opposition leader has decided to snub substantive Brexit talks until ‘no deal’ is ruled out. In his Hastings speech, he told the Prime Minister to “ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future”. He followed that up with a letter that clarified his position: “Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But… these cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines.” Her response said ruling out ‘no deal’ was an “impossible condition”.

Was Corbyn’s boycott decision the right one? (This question isn’t hypothetical – you can tell us your view in our new survey.) The Labour MPs I spoke to were divided on the issue: some thought it was too nuanced and came across badly to the public (“we’re in primary colours now”); some agreed that the talks were pointless without that no-no-deal assurance (including Corbynsceptics such as Wes Streeting); others undecided (“we’ll see if it pays off”). Quite a few were irritated by Corbyn’s message to Labour MPs in which he urged them to refrain from government talks for now. Most did follow his lead. A few ignored the advice – John Mann, Yvette Cooper, Hillary Benn, Stephen Kinnock and other non-loyalists took a trip to the Cabinet Office – but, like other opposition party leaders, they seemed to find the government unhelpful and uncompromising.

With neither May nor Corbyn yet changing their Brexit position, we’re still at square one: how do we break the deadlock? Another referendum seems logical in some ways – admit our political class has failed, throw it back to the people – but it does risk killing off any idea that our elected representatives are competent enough to run the country, as well as presenting a whole host of other problems. Crucially, neither main party leaders want to do it and there is currently no parliamentary majority for it.

The Guardian today leads with a story that Corbyn would face up to a dozen frontbench resignations if he backed a fresh public vote. Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott might be alright with it, but it’s easy to imagine that Ian Lavery, Barry Gardiner and Jon Trickett, as well as a host of Leave-seat junior shadow ministers including Gloria de Piero, wouldn’t be without protest. Of course, Corbynsceptics (such as Luke Akehurst) are not best pleased about how the story was written up – they say there will also be resignations if he refuses to support the move.

Like everything else with Brexit, there are no easy answers. Tricky, tricky. I’m very interested to hear what you make of it all. Was Corbyn’s call on Brexit talks this week the right one? What should be Labour’s top priority now? And who are your favourite shadow cabinet members? Tell us by completing our new survey. Have a great weekend.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: Corbyn letter to May: Rule out ‘no deal’ and scrap red lines

Source: Labour List UK

Jeremy Corbyn has today written to Theresa May calling on her to rule out ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

In the letter, the Labour leader says he is “open to meaningful discussions”, but makes clear that they cannot take place on the basis of May’s “existing red lines”.

Corbyn argues that “no tweaks or further assurances” will win May’s Brexit deal the approval of MPs.

“I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union,” he writes.

“A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.”

In his Hastings speech on Brexit today, the opposition leader confirmed that his priority – the “first option” on the table mentioned in the conference composite motion – is to support a deal that aligns with Labour’s alternative plan.

Below is the full text of Corbyn’s letter.

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to follow up on my statement in the Commons last night on a point of order.

I wish to reiterate the points I raised at Prime Minister’s Questions and to formally set out the position of the Labour Party.

We are firmly of the opinion that the starting point for any talks about how to break the Brexit deadlock must be that the threat of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome is ruled out.

That is the position that Labour set out in our 2017 manifesto, at our 2018 party conference – and that we have consistently adhered to throughout.

I note that it is a position shared by all the opposition parties, including the DUP, and is the expressed will of Parliament. If you are serious about reaching a deal, then ‘no deal’ must be ruled out.

After the unprecedented and unnecessary delay to the meaningful vote last month, entering into talks while the clock continues to run down, and the threat of a chaotic ‘no deal’ increases, would be a reckless leap in the dark.

The Chancellor and the Business Secretary were both open to ruling out ‘no deal’ in the recent conference call with business leaders.

Therefore, on behalf of the Labour Party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome. The £4.2 billion currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of cash-starved public services on which people rely and could transform the lives of those struggling on Universal Credit.

Labour is open to meaningful discussions. But following the decisive rejection of the government’s deal by MPs on Tuesday, those cannot be on the basis of your existing red lines. It is clear that no tweaks or further assurances are going to win support for the government’s Brexit deal in Parliament.

We have set out an alternative framework for a better deal: based upon a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union; a strong Single Market deal; and guarantees that there can be no race to the bottom on rights and standards. That is the consistent position that Labour has outlined over the past year.

I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union. A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority of the House of Commons.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Leader of the Opposition

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MIL-OSI UK: Is Corbyn wrong to refuse Brexit talks until May rules out ‘no deal’?

Source: Labour List UK

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Last night, the government survived Jeremy Corbyn’s no-confidence vote with a majority of 19. With every Conservative MP still holding out hope that their version of Brexit (or lack thereof) has a chance, and the DUP keen to highlight their usefulness in this exact situation, Theresa May didn’t suffer any rebellions. She was also helped by ex-Labour MPs John Woodcock, Ivan Lewis and Fiona Onasanya, who abstained. After the result was announced, the Prime Minister invited the opposition party leaders for Brexit talks – but Corbyn called on her first to rule out ‘no deal’. And this stand-off dominates the news today.

As soon as the PM decided she was safe enough from the threat of a no-confidence vote, after being stubborn and unresponsive at PMQs, then having Michael Gove make personal attacks against the Labour leader during the confidence debate, she apparently extended an olive branch (without a hint of irony). But in calling for cross-party cooperation over the last few weeks, Labour has been consistent in its approach: stop blackmailing us with your no-deal threat, and relax your red lines so that we have something to talk about. As Richard Burgon confirmed this morning, Tory chair Brandon Lewis has told Labour that the government refuses to remove any red lines or rule out ‘no deal’. We are at a standstill.

Corbyn’s team has presented a nuanced argument for its ‘rule out no deal’ demand and the narrative will likely get lost in translation to the wider public, aided by coverage such as the Daily Mail’s “Wrecker Corbyn” splash. And despite supposedly speaking outside No10 last night as the Prime Minister, not a party political figure, May said she was “disappointed” by Corbyn’s decision and even had the cheek to ask others to “put self-interest aside”. So Labour’s no-deal demand as a “starting point” for “substantive talks” will be made to look unreasonable to voters. Why do it?

Well, for one, ruling out ‘no deal’ could lose May her DUP backing and bring down the government. And though keenly aware of the fragility of the confidence-and-supply deal, May does have to act soon. Every option – extending Article 50, conceding on customs union membership, no-deal – risks resignations. She is faced with the same choice as ever: keep the gridlock, or drop hard Brexiteers and scrap some red lines to reach a compromise deal (at which point Labour could win a well-timed no-confidence vote).

More than ever, Labour wants to show that it is ready for an election. After releasing a new party political broadcast last night, Corbyn will be making a speech in the very marginal Tory seat of Hastings this morning. On Amber Rudd’s turf, he is expected to set out Labour’s next steps for Brexit and flesh out his response to May’s talks invitation. We’re unlikely to be surprised by the speech content – no such luck, People’s Vote campaigners – but interest lies in whether Corbyn can convince the country he isn’t contributing to the mess in Westminster.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: 71 Labour MPs back a People’s Vote – but issues remain unresolved

Source: Labour List UK

84 Labour MPs and MEPs, including shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods, joined together today to declare their public support for a fresh referendum on the UK’s EU membership. Describing no-deal as a “catastrophe”, the elected figures signed a letter urging the government to seek Article 50 extension and Labour to give people a “final say”.

Although the list of signatories was assumed by many to be the definitive directory of (71) Labour MPs supportive of another public vote, LabourList has found that a total of 88 MPs so far have declared their endorsements. This amounts to around a third of the parliamentary party. The reasons for which 17 MPs who have publicly backed the idea did not sign the letter today are unclear.

It could be that some of the dozen MPs support a ‘people’s vote’, though not the letter. It explicitly contends, for instance, that “renegotiation is not a realistic prospect”, despite it being understood that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred way forward. This statement – as well as increased coverage of their viewpoint, and the possibility of being associated with Corbynsceptics – could explain why just one of the eight frontbenchers who have openly campaigned for another public vote signed the letter.

The letter also states that the public would offer “the option to stay and keep the deal that we have”. But the signatories aren’t all agreed on this issue. Seema Malholtra, who recently announced her support for the People’s Vote campaign in a joint Sunday Times article with Sir Nicholas Soames, confirmed to LabourList that she would like to see an “EEA/CU-based deal” approved by parliament before putting it to the country, along with ‘Remain’.

Her route would require breaking the parliamentary deadlock on Brexit, which goes against the arguments of some who suppose that a ‘people’s vote’ is a solution to the standstill in itself. And if MPs could come together behind a Brexit deal based on European Economic Area or customs union membership, many could be tempted to leave it at that – for now, at least.

Malholtra’s proposal gives rise to one of the questions to which the People’s Campaign hasn’t given a single answer: what would the ballot paper would look like? It has been widely assumed by campaigners that May’s deal would be included as an option for voters to choose in addition to ‘Remain’, as outlined in the letter. However, the crushing defeat of that deal in the Commons this week casts doubt over such a path.

Ultimately, the campaign launch this morning shows that Labour can only make a difference in the People’s Campaign if Corbyn lends his support. This is not only due to the leader’s own reservations, and the private polling done by his office that shows it would be electorally damaging. It is also because there is a significant level of opposition amongst shadow cabinet members and would lead to the resignations of key allies.

Below is the full statement and list of signatories published today.

This is an unprecedented and perilous moment in our history. With this Tory government in chaos and with the jobs and security of our constituents on the line – we strongly support the Labour decision to reject Theresa May’s “deal”.

We were appalled at her anti-democratic moves to prevent parliament having a vote, and to run down the clock by delaying it until mid-January. This was an utterly irresponsible decision, and gambling with the jobs and livelihoods of our constituents.

The Tory government approach has been disastrous since day one. Their plans would lead to more austerity, fewer jobs and less money for our public services. This is not what anyone voted for in 2016.

We represent hugely diverse constituencies from the North to the South, from Wales to Scotland. Many of our constituencies voted to Leave in 2016. We must listen to and respond to the reasons why people did so. But we now face a moment of national crisis, where the facts and the views of many people have changed – and are continuing to change.

It is now clear renegotiation is not a realistic prospect. No deal would be a catastrophe which we must resolutely oppose. The government should seek an extension to Article 50 to provide time for Parliament to find a way forward. Theresa May has failed to bring this country back together. Labour’s conference adopted a clear policy for this situation.

We must try and remove this government from office as soon as possible. But the removal of the government and pushing for a general election may prove impossible, so we must join trade unions, our members and a majority of our constituents by then unequivocally backing the only logical option to help our country move forward: putting the decision back to the people for a final say, in a public vote, with the option to stay and keep the deal that we have.

Defeat of the Tory deal in a public vote would give us all a chance to campaign for the anti-austerity policies and a Labour government that deals with the true causes of the Brexit vote, and a reformed Europe that works for all people.


Debbie Abrahams MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Tonia Antoniazzi MP
Luciana Berger MP
Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Karen Buck MP
Chris Bryant MP
Ruth Cadbury MP
Ann Clwyd MP
Ann Coffey MP
Neil Coyle MP
Mary Creagh MP
Alex Cunningham MP
Janet Daby MP
Geraint Davies MP
Stephen Doughty MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Louise Ellman MP
Mike Gapes MP
Kate Green MP
Lillian Greenwood MP
John Grogan MP
Rupa Huq MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Darren Jones MP
Maria Eagle MP
Susan Elan Jones MP
Julie Elliott MP
Graham Jones MP
Liz Kendall MP
Ged Killen MP
Peter Kyle MP
David Lammy MP
Chris Leslie MP
Seema Malhotra MP
Kerry McCarthy MP
Siobhan McDonagh MP
Pat McFadden MP
Conor McGinn MP
Alison McGovern MP
Anna McMorrin MP
Catherine McKinnell MP
Madeleine Moon MP
Stephen Morgan MP
Ian Murray MP
Albert Owen MP
Bridget Phillipson MP
Jess Phillips MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Rachel Reeves MP
Joan Ryan MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Barry Sheerman MP
Gavin Shuker MP
Tulip Siddiq MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Angela C. Smith MP
Owen Smith MP
Jo Stevens MP
Wes Streeting MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Stephen Timms MP
Anna Turley MP
Chuka Umunna MP
Matt Western MP
Martin Whitfield MP
Paul Williams MP
Phil Wilson MP
Daniel Zeichner MP


Richard Corbett MEP (Leader of EPLP / Shadow Cabinet)
Derek Vaughan MEP
Seb Dance MEP
Paul Brannen MEP
Catherine Stihler MEP
Wajid Khan MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Clare Moody MEP
John Howarth MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Jude Kirton Darling MEP
David Martin MEP
Mary Honeyball MEP

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MIL-OSI UK: May’s deal defeated, Corbyn’s confidence motion set to fail. What next?

Source: Labour List UK

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Theresa May suffered the worst defeat of any government in history last night. That’s no exaggeration. A majority of 230 MPs voted against her Brexit deal – bigger than anyone was expecting – with 248 Labour MPs, 118 Tories and all other parties opposed. Only three Labour MPs rebelled to vote for May’s deal – Ian Austin, Kevin Barron, John Mann – plus Frank Field, now sitting as an Independent, whereas 63% of Tory backbenchers voted against the government. After the meaningful vote, Jeremy Corbyn told MPs he had tabled a motion of no confidence in the government, which will be debated today and voted on at 7pm.

What has actually changed? Although the Prime Minister indicated that she would reach across the Commons to hold cross-party talks with a “constructive spirit” when speaking at the despatch box, the reality is far less encouraging. Her spokesman made clear last night that she would not seek talks with Corbyn, but “senior parliamentarians” only, and this was confirmed by Andrea Leadsom on Today this morning. This stance could dissipate after the confidence vote tonight, though it does align with May’s extraordinarily stubborn approach and her persistence in prioritising the Conservative Party over the country.

As expected then, May’s ‘Plan B’ will very closely resemble ‘Plan A’ – despite a staggering number of parliamentarians having just rejected that very deal. When it comes to the government, ‘nothing has changed’. And for Labour? The steps set out in its conference policy will be followed, though not in the way many party activists hope. John McDonnell says there’s a “febrile atmosphere” in Westminster and “anything could happen”, but the DUP and Tories will support the government today – which is laughable, of course. So once it is clear an election cannot be forced, will Corbyn back the People’s Vote campaign? Don’t bet on it.

“Motions of confidence can happen more than once,” the leader’s spokesman said last night. Plus, a fresh referendum isn’t the only option on that notorious table. Asked what the other options were, the spokesman replied: “The first is the alternative plan that we have laid out and that we believe can command a majority across the Commons, even without a general election… All options on the table means there is no hierarchy but this is our policy.” See what I mean? There are situations in which Labour could win a confidence vote: if a deal including the backstop passes, or if MPs find themselves staring off the no-deal cliff edge. The leadership doesn’t want to jump the gun.

The questions to ask now: How many MPs will go back on their votes and ultimately support May’s deal? If her Plan B fails, will May compromise on customs union membership? Or can she hold out for longer, and continue to threaten MPs with no deal/no Brexit? Will the Commons extend Article 50, and does this eventually mean another public vote? The answers are unknowable at this stage, but the next few sitting days in parliament promise to be exciting and decisive.

Sienna @siennamarla

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MIL-OSI UK: expert reaction to Parliament’s vote on Brexit

Source: United Kingdom – Science Media Centre

Reactions to Parliament’s meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, says:

“Yesterday’s unprecedented vote makes the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal even more likely. A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for British science and innovation and I urge our elected representatives to put the interests of the country first and get a new plan to prevent this catastrophic outcome.”

 Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:

 “In light of today’s vote to reject the Prime Minister’s deal, I am at pains to once again stress that leaving the EU without a deal is a grave threat to biomedical research and the patients and public who rely on our currently collaborative and world-class science.

“This isn’t speculation, no deal would lead to serious negative impacts for medical research, including the disruption to productive collaborations, lost access to funding, barriers to clinical trials and research into rare diseases, and a diminution in our ability to attract and retain researchers to the UK.

“It is somewhat encouraging to see that over the last week MPs have shown that Parliament will not support a “no deal” Brexit. But, time is running out and I urge Parliamentarians to have the need for a good outcome for science and medical research at the forefront of their minds in the coming days and weeks.”

Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, says:

“Following the vote, it’s critical that government does everything in its power to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Our scientists unanimously agree that no-deal would be a disaster.”

“International collaboration is crucial to modern science, and the UK has particularly close research links with the EU. For British science to hold onto its world-leading position after Brexit, scientists must be able to move easily across Europe, participate fully in EU programmes and work seamlessly with partners across the channel. The best way to do this would be to remain in the EU but, if we must leave, we urgently need a deal to provide certainty in these areas.

“The Crick is prepared for the short-term impacts of no-deal. We are covering the costs of the EU settlement scheme for our European staff and their families, who make up 40% of our scientific workforce, and we have measures in place to ensure that our science can continue uninterrupted if our supply chain is disrupted.

“However, the long-term impact of no-deal on science and society would set back scientific progress significantly. We need a deal that not only allows the best scientists to come and work here but also encourages them to stay and makes them feel welcome. While the Crick is still attracting world class scientists in spite of Brexit, we are beginning to see European scientists planning to return to their home countries after they finish their PhDs or postdocs at the Crick.”

*Case studies of researchers planning to leave the UK for their next position are available

Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  So we did not ask for interests to be declared, as they are implicit in the affiliations.