Keir Starmer has announced Labour will back a bill designed by Yvette Cooper to stop a No Deal and extend Article 50.
The bill would extend Article 50 to allow the government more time to negotiate the withdrawal deal with the EU and prevent the government from running down the clock and delivering a No Deal Brexit.
Cooper hopes to force a vote on an amendment on the 27th February that will force the government to give time to debate her bill. The bill would give May until 13th March to get her deal through Parliament. If this does not occur MPs would vote between a No Deal Brexit and extending Article 50.
It would be up to the government to decide how long the extension is. This is in contrast to Cooper’s last amendment that had it set at 9 months.
Cooper is proposing the amendment and the bill with Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin. Caroline Spelman (Tory) who did not vote for the Cooper amendment 2 weeks ago has announced she will back the bill.
14 Labour MPs voted against the amendment two weeks ago ensuring it passed despite Tory rebellions.
In a statement Cooper said;
This bill would require the prime minister and parliament to take crucial decisions by the middle of March at the very latest on whether the UK is leaving with a deal, without a deal or seeking an extension to article 50. It forces the prime minister to tell us whether she wants to leave with no deal or to extend article 50 if she still hasn’t got a deal in place by the middle of March. This bill creates a parliamentary safeguard to prevent
usdrifting into no deal by accident, and to prevent those crucial decisions being left until the final fortnight.
The bill would be a major blow to May who hopes to use the threat of No Deal to get her own deal through Parliament. It will find support from Europhillic Tory MPs but Labour will need to do a better job at whipping it MPs in leave constituencies if it wants the bill to pass.
Other amendments that have been proposed include Geraint Davies’ bill that would see Labour MPs back the deal if it is put to a referendum. The referendum would be between Remain and May’s deal. Strangely this is not backed by the People’s Vote campaign. Latest polling says remain would win a referendum against May’s deal by a safe margin. It also includes an extension of Article 50.
Jeremy Corbyn has also tabled an amendment to the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan which would force the Government to hold a fresh vote on her deal by the end of February. This will be tabled on Thursday.
In a statement Corbyn said:
This amendment would stop the Government from running down the clock on the Brexit negotiations, hoping Members of Parliament can be blackmailed into supporting a botched deal.
“This is an act of gross irresponsibility. The Prime Minister is playing for time and playing with people’s jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry.
Labour will hope that May will switch to backing their Brexit deal that includes a comprehensive customs union with the EU post-Brexit.
Reports say Government officials have started planning for a customs Union deal for Brexit in a similar style to the proposals put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, despite Theresa May publicly denouncing the plans last week.