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Analysis

Corbyn must whip 3 times to stop ‘no deal’ on Tuesday

by Hugo Dixon | 26.01.2019

If Labour is serious about avoiding the Brexit “no deal” abyss in two months, backing Yvette Cooper’s amendment on Tuesday won’t be enough. It must also support Dominic Grieve’s even more critical amendment – as well as one from Caroline Spelman.

Jeremy Corbyn is likely to whip his MPs to support the amendment proposed by Cooper, a backbench Labour MP, according to the Guardian. This would ram through emergency legislation requiring the government to ask the EU to delay Brexit if MPs don’t approve a deal within a month (see amendment (b)).

While this is an important amendment, it doesn’t on its own do the trick. Even if Cooper gets her law through both Houses of Parliament, the other EU countries will not agree a long delay of perhaps nine months unless we have a good reason.

Labour mustn’t think Cooper’s law is enough to stop “no deal”. MPs have to work flat out over the next month to find a viable way forward. Otherwise, they will still be clueless what to do – and the EU will, at most, give us a short delay of a few months.

This is why Grieve’s killer “take back control” amendment is essential. The Tory former attorney general wants MPs to wrest control of the parliamentary timetable from the government for six days between now and Brexit day on March 29 (see amendment (g)).

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Even this doesn’t guarantee that MPs will find common ground. But, if Corbyn is serious about pursuing Labour party policy – namely to explore all remaining options including a People’s Vote – there will almost certainly be an agreement.

The Labour leader isn’t supporting a new referendum yet. But it’s hard to see any other option, given that the party is opposed to both the government’s deal and “no deal”. Even if he could persuade enough Tories to back his own incoherent version of Brexit, it would take years to negotiate – and since he wouldn’t be prime minister, there’s no way the deal could stick.

So it’s vital Corbyn backs the Grieve amendment – giving MPs the time to explore all the alternatives, see why they don’t work and finally get to the right place.

He should also back one other amendment, which simply says we shouldn’t leave the EU without a deal. The government has virtually given up on winning this, according to The Times.

Although it wouldn’t compel the prime minister to do anything, it would be a powerful demonstration of Parliament’s will. So it needs to win big – and that means it needs Labour’s support (see Spelman’s amendment (i)).

Corbyn has got to get his whip out no fewer than three times on Tuesday. If he doesn’t and we end up crashing out of the EU, he will share the blame.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

2 Responses to “Corbyn must whip 3 times to stop ‘no deal’ on Tuesday”

  • Jeremy ignores somewhat his Marxist roots. In Marxist or neo-Marxist terms the problems of the backstop could be analysed as the result of imperialistic colonialism on the island of Ireland with the oppression of the native population by agents of the colonial power, suppression of religious and political freedoms and dispossession of the proletariat of their labour and means of production. Instead we are getting anodyne meaningless statements; stand up for the cause Jeremy or pass on the baton to the competent members of the front bench not the blatherers.

  • Why is the option to withdraw A50 not front and centre in all of these discussions about what we could do?

    Withdraw A50 and immediately renter the world of (relative) sanity. Our industry remains, supply lines of all goods are restored and all the problems that are never addressed (euratom for example) will not become impossible obstacles to a functioning healthy country.

    The government has been unable to make any headway during the past 2 years and it is ludicrous to suggest that, by some miracle, a working solution be created, agreed and implemented in a matter of months before crashing out to ruination.

    When we choose to remain we do not forfeit the right to withdraw at some future date. Better prepared and with a better plan that could be an option. But not this time around.

    Withdraw A50 immediately and use the millions being poured down the bottomless drain (to find and convince us of a brexit solution) would instantly become available for the NHS, for example.