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Analysis

Now PM’s deal is defeated, everyone must stop wasting time

by Luke Lythgoe | 16.01.2019

Following Theresa May’s record-breaking defeat in the Commons last night, and with a vote of no confidence due today, it is essential that MPs now move quickly to back a People’s Vote before this crisis deepens any further. There can be no more foot-dragging or time-wasting. That applies to everyone: government, Labour leadership and soft Brexiters.

Jeremy Corbyn is sticking doggedly to his goal of forcing a general election. Even if, as is likely, today’s vote doesn’t go the opposition’s way, Labour could table multiple votes of no confidence in repeated bids to oust May, reports The Times.

This tactic is just as much about the battle raging inside the Labour party. Talk of more votes helps the leadership avoid calls to back a People’s Vote. And those calls are getting louder from Labour MPs and the party’s supporters across the country.

It’s time Corbyn and his allies faced reality. There is no good Brexit deal. We have a much better deal inside the EU, and it’s what the overwhelming majority of Labour members and voters want. Thanks to the sheer scale of May’s defeat yesterday, the only way Brexit goes through now is if Labour whips for it and, most likely, walks through division lobbies with the Tories. Labour will own the Brexit mess – and they’ve seen how that is playing out for their rivals.

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The prime minister is also playing for time. As she often does in tight spots, May has offered to “hold meetings” with those who disagree with her. But her promises of a “constructive spirit” immediately after the vote were soon shot down by Number 10, who insisted the prime minister would stick to her “core principles” on Brexit, reports The Times. That meant a trade policy independent of the EU – and therefore no hope of staying in a customs union.

This stance instantly burns bridges with Labour and the soft Brexiters pushing for Norway-style solutions. Corbyn has also said today that he hasn’t even been invited to hold talks with the prime minister. What it boils down to is more can-kicking.

May’s intransigence is not the only problem for the so-called “Norwegians” in Parliament. The 432-202 drubbing the government’s deal received last night doesn’t bode well for their plan to join the EEA. “Norway Plus” has many of the same flaws as May’s deal: even more rule-taking with no say, paying similar sums to the EU as we do now. If MPs hate May’s deal, they’re likely to hate the Norway model even more.

That arguably leaves the only options left as “no deal” and “no Brexit”. Does anyone really believe that either Cabinet or Parliament will vote for the chaos of a no-deal crash out? MPs will have lots more opportunities to reject it in the coming weeks.

Now, as before yesterday’s historic vote, it is clear that a People’s Vote is the only way to break the deadlock in Parliament. MPs cannot find an answer to the Brexit riddle posed to them in 2016 – only a democratic decision by the people can sort this out.

This article was updated after publication to note that Jeremy Corbyn has not be invited to hold talks with the prime minister. 

Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Now PM’s deal is defeated, everyone must stop wasting time”

  • Revoke A50 now. Continuing to waste time trying for a new referendum means the money being wasted by the Tories continues, their damaging policies go on and worst of all it gives the public opinion manipulators an opportunity to work their evil magic.

    The anti EU groups have a lot of money and power not to mention owning virtually all the news media, and they have shown no interest to fight honestly and with honour.

    Revoke A50 and get back into the Union that will protect us against these ant EU groups who have only their own interests at heart.

  • Isn’t it only fair that Labour start sharing responsibility for Brexit with the Tories by taking over the mantle and show respect for the will of the people? Go Corbyn!

  • I agree with Burton Schrader, but MPs lack the political courage to withdraw Article 50 notice and cancel brexit, so another referendum is the next best thing provided it is regulated strictly, despite the risk.