Wednesday, March 27, 2019

MPs Stage 'Indicative Votes' as May's Government Clings On
Parliamentary Reporter
Morning Star, UK

JEREMY CORBYN urged the Prime Minister to say whether she would have a “Plan B” for Brexit to include a customs union to protect jobs and business, in advance of indicative votes in the Commons last night.

MPs voted on eight motions that were selected by Speaker John Bercow – ranging from no-deal to another public vote – after the Star went to print.

Tory MPs were given a free vote by Theresa May in order to prevent more resignations after three ministers quit this week to vote against the government.

Mr Corbyn’s motion supports Labour’s “alternative plan” for Brexit.

Labour MPs would also be whipped to support motions for a “common market 2.0” moved by Tory MP Nick Boles, a “customs union” by former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke and a “confirmatory public vote” by Labour MP Margaret Beckett, a party spokesman said.

MPs would vote again on Monday to whittle down the remaining options. Ms May said government would not be bound by the votes.

Hours before the vote at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), the Labour leader pressed Ms May to say whether she had drawn up an alternative plan after her Withdrawal Agreement failed to get through Parliament twice.

Mr Corbyn said that the “scale of the crisis” is evident after the TUC and bosses’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry wrote a joint letter calling on Ms May to back a customs union.

He said: “It is a bit strange when a Conservative Prime Minister says she does not want what the business community wants. These are indeed strange times.”

The PM replied that her deal “delivers the benefits of a customs union, while enabling us to have an independent free trade policy.”

Earlier, shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner warned that Labour would have difficultly backing the plan for a “confirmatory” referendum.

He said Labour was “not a Remain party” and that supporting the Beckett motion would imply Labour did not accept the Leave vote.

The motion’s wording meant that voters could be faced with a choice between accepting Ms May’s unpopular deal – which Labour opposes – or Britain staying in the EU, he added.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Gardiner’s remarks were “exactly in line” with party policy.

He said: “We have got to prevent a bad deal, advocate for our own policy, try to get a general election if we can, but failing that, if there is a logjam, yes, we will if necessary go back to the people.”

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