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Analysis

Labour MPs can’t fall for May’s ‘my deal or no deal’ line

by Luke Lythgoe | 08.10.2018

To get a miserable deal through Parliament, Theresa May will probably need the votes of Labour MPs. Cue a charm offensive by government whips targeting 25 potential Labour waverers, reported in both the Guardian and Telegraph.

May needs Labour votes to offset a hardcore of maybe 20 Tories such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, who have vowed to reject anything that turns us into a rule-taker. She also can’t rely on a handful of pro-European Conservatives, who are worried that her proposals would damage our economy. Finally there are the 10 DUP MPs propping up her government, who ominously describe any regulatory checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a “blood red” line.

Given that May has a working majority of just seven, she could need 25 opposition MPs or even more to back her.

One target are Labour MPs worried about crashing out of the EU with no deal at all. But Chris Bryant and Rachael Reeves, rumoured to be on the Tories’ hitlist, have already rebuffed the government’s advances.

These Labour MPs presumably aren’t falling for May’s “my deal or no deal” ruse. Not backing the prime minister does not mean chaos. There’s a third way: a People’s Vote, which might well result in no Brexit at all.

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Another target are Labour MPs, such as Caroline Flint or Gareth Snell, who are worried about seeming deaf to the concerns of their Leave-voting constituents over immigration. But we don’t need to leave the EU to get a better migration policy. There is plenty we can do to control migration from the EU as members. What’s more net migration from outside the EU at 235,000 is now treble net migration from inside the EU – and being a member doesn’t stop us controlling that.

Labour MPs being wooed by the Tories should realise that Brexit will hurt their constituents. There won’t be a Brexit dividend to invest in the NHS and local services starved of cash by years of austerity. It’s a myth. By contrast, if we stay in the EU, there will be a “no-Brexit” dividend which can and should be used to tackle the problems that led many to vote for Brexit in the first place.

What’s more, the kind of “blindfold” Brexit May is likely to strike means more uncertainty and energy-sapping negotiations with the EU post-Brexit. That will mean low investment and a sagging economy. The rich Brexiters can shift their capital offshore; but workers will be stuck in dead-end jobs if they are lucky to keep them.

If these arguments from principle don’t keep Labour MPs in the fold, there are two others that might: do they really want to let down their tribe; and, if they do, are they sure Labour members, who are strongly pro-European, will still want them as their candidates at the next election?

Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “Labour MPs can’t fall for May’s ‘my deal or no deal’ line”

  • Having just seen the atrocious way in which the GOP pushed Brett Kavanough into position on the Supreme Court of the USA, I think we can expect some foul and wholly anti-democratic actions from the Brexit brigade. Certainly looking at the way the PM is unwilling to give in to any request that the changing and more pro-EU orientated “will of the people” would suggest is the right course. Sad to see rampant Victorian capitalism taking over.