LONDON - (Labour Buzz) On Thursday, Boris Johnson secured the agreement of EU leaders at a special summit in Brussels. Hitherto, some Labour MPs have indicated they will support the withdrawal agreement with a view to get Brexit done, ending the stalemate.
The Labour front bench was united in their opposition to the deal. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor tweeted “The more people examine the text of [the] Johnson deal, the more you realise what a sell out deal it is. It’s not just the DUP, he’s sold out virtually very sector of our economy & all those who may have voted to leave believing a deal could be secured that protected their jobs. #Sellout.”
Boris Johnson will only be able to secure a majority in the Commons if the 21 expelled Tories support the deal, plus enough Labour MPs, with some expressing the will to do so. In what is expected to be an extremely close vote, perhaps the tightest vote of its kind in decades, all parties are preparing for the Saturday showdown, with no one quite sure how it will conclude.
Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that Labour MPs who support the Prime Minister will not have the whip withdrawn. However, Jon Lansman, Chair of the Corbyn supporting group, Momentum and Labour NEC member tweeted, “Johson’s deal will be a wrecking ball through the lives & well-being of ordinary people across Britain. Labour MPs cannot and must not vote for it. If they do, the NEC will have no choice but to replace them with a new, socialist Labour candidate at the next election.”
19 Labour MPs wrote to European Commission President Juncker, indicating that they would support a negotiated deal. Lawmakers from leave voting constituencies such as Ronnie Campbell MP, Jim Fitzpatrick MP and former Labour MP, John Mann have all said they will vote for the deal. Boris Johnson will need more of the group of 19, led by Stephen Kinnock to back his proposals if the agreement is to pass.
If the agreement does not succeed on Saturday, then under the Benn Act, the prime minister will be forced to seek an extension from Brussels. The extension must be until January the 31st 2020. Some EU leaders, including President Macron have indicated that a further extension might not receive the unanimous support of EU leaders.
Adding to the PMs woes, Oliver Letwin, a former Tory MP who had the whip withdrawn has tabled an amendment. It defers the decision to back the agreement until additional legislation is brought forward to implement the withdrawal agreement. MPs will debate this if the Commons Speaker, John Bercow supports the amendment. Labour and the SNP have indicated they will support the amendment.
If the amendment passes, it makes leaving the European Union on October 31 less likely and may pave the way for another EU referendum.
(Written by Brendan Chilton, edited by Michael O’Sullivan)