Defiant MPs should re­sign – Cor­byn

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS - An­drew Atkin­son

UK OP­PO­SI­TION leader Jeremy Cor­byn de­fended his de­ci­sion to force Labour Party law­mak­ers to vote for trig­ger­ing Brexit, say­ing any mem­bers of his top team who defy him will be ex­pected to re­sign.

Cor­byn is bat­tling a grow­ing re­volt over his or­der that party mem­bers in par­lia­ment back a bill that in­vokes Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Lis­bon Treaty, the le­gal no­ti­fi­ca­tion that the UK is leav­ing the EU. Two of his team have al­ready quit in protest.

“It’s ob­vi­ously im­pos­si­ble to carry on be­ing in the shadow cabi­net if you vote against a de­ci­sion made af­ter a very frank and very long dis­cus­sion of the shadow cabi­net,” Cor­byn told the “Pe­ston on Sun­day” show on ITV tele­vi­sion.

Cor­byn, who backed re­main­ing in the EU, said the re­sult of the June ref­er­en­dum had to be re­spected, but Labour MPs rep­re­sent­ing ar­eas that voted strongly to re­main in the EU fear a back­lash from con­stituents if they back Ar­ti­cle 50 af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said she wants to leave the sin­gle mar­ket.

Jo Stevens, Labour’s spokes­woman for Wales, an­nounced on Fri­day she was quit­ting the shadow cabi­net.

Ter­ri­ble mis­take

May “is now lead­ing our coun­try to­wards a bru­tal exit with all the dam­age that will cause to the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties we rep­re­sent,” Stevens told Cor­byn in a let­ter. “I be­lieve that leav­ing is a ter­ri­ble mis­take and I can­not rec­on­cile my over­whelm­ing view that to en­dorse the step that will make exit in­evitable, is wrong.”

Stevens quit af­ter Tulip Sid­diq, a Labour law­maker with north Lon­don con­stituents, said she was giv­ing up her post as shadow ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter. Four other mem­bers of Cor­byn’s team have also threat­ened to defy his or­ders.

May was forced to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion af­ter the Supreme Court ruled last week that she doesn’t have the au­thor­ity to ini­ti­ate Brexit with­out the per­mis­sion of law­mak­ers.

The gov­ern­ment sub­mit­ted a bill with 137 words in an at­tempt to limit the scope for amend­ments and al­low her to pull the trig­ger by her self-im­posed March 31 dead­line.

Labour is putting for­ward an amend­ment re­quir­ing the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide par­lia­ment with up­dates on the ne­go­ti­a­tions ev­ery two months.

Labour is cur­rently cam­paign­ing for elec­tions in two ar­eas that sup­ported Brexit. Its elec­toral base is split. A to­tal of 149 Labour con­stituen­cies across Eng­land and Wales voted “Leave” and 83 sup­ported “Re­main,” ac­cord­ing to re­search by Chris Han­retty of the Univer­sity of East Anglia.

“Leave” won 52 per­cent in the June ref­er­en­dum“I’m very well aware of the views of mem­bers,” Cor­byn said. But “I think we would be do­ing our­selves a dis­ser­vice if we said, ‘well ac­tu­ally, we know bet­ter than the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum’.”

The Scot­tish Na­tional Party, the third-largest bloc in the House of Com­mons, plans to vote against trig­ger­ing Ar­ti­cle 50.

The Lib­eral Democrats, the fourth largest, vowed to op­pose it un­less the pub­lic are given a vote on the fi­nal deal that May ne­go­ti­ates with the EU.

‘I can­not rec­on­cile my… view that to en­dorse the step that will make exit in­evitable, is wrong.’

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