Labour’s Gardiner hints at referendum on Corbyn Brexit deal

Daniel Fowler
January 7, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated that a delayed parliamentary vote on her widely maligned Brexit deal will go ahead later this month and warned the United Kingdom would enter "uncharted territory" should it be rejected by MPs.

The vote, pencilled in for Jan 15 or 16, was pulled at the last minute in December when it became clear more than 100 Conservative Party lawmakers were going to opposite it. She also, again, ruled out any possibility of taking the issue back to the electorate.

Both the Labour and Conservative parties" 2017 General Election manifestos ran on pledges to respect the referendum vote and leave the European Union; while Mrs May has been pushing MPs to accept her Withdrawal Agreement, a "no deal' Brexit - the default legal position if the lower house votes down May's agreement - is fulfilling the referendum result as Tory MP Peter Bone told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

Labour's current policy is to push for a general election if Mrs May fails to get her Brexit deal through Parliament next week.

However, May denies reports that she is planning to delay the vote for a second time.

She also promised parliament would have a greater say in the rest of the Brexit process and warned that rejecting her deal could prevent Britain's exit.

"There was no question, that I remember, on the referendum about a "deal" or not; it was "leave" or 'remain.' And the way you leave is to come out on the 29th of March".

"I don't think anybody can say exactly what will happen in terms of the reaction we'll see in parliament".

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

But parliamentary opposition to her deal remains fierce, with the main sticking point being the safety net "backstop" measure - which would guarantee no hard border is erected on the island of Ireland in the event that post-Brexit trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and the bloc prove unsuccessful.

A senior Government source added that Ms Cooper's amendments would be "the first of many" attempts to stop a no deal Brexit should MPs vote down Mrs May's unpopular EU Withdrawal Agreement in the week beginning January 15th.

But she admitted she had no way of knowing what might happen if MPs rejected her deal, adding that the country would be in uncharted territory. The MPs say that the move is meant to remove the threat of a no-deal Brexit by making clear no government could function effectively in such a scenario.

"There are some MPs who are looking for an excuse to back the deal and so, something tokenistic and declaratory from the European Union on the backstop clause would work for them, but I don't understand how that would work for the DUP, and that's where the action is", he added.

"We are pretty much where we were before Christmas, with the proviso that there's less time left".

The survey of more than 25,000 people, commissioned by the People's Vote campaign, found that 75 per cent of Labour voters supported the idea of another referendum.

Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP for Gower, said: "I feel particularly strongly that this stasis, this logjam that we are in is making the public extremely frustrated".

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