Labour ‘will not back Brexit deal’

The Chronicle - - National -

LABOUR is un­likely to back any Brexit deal Theresa May se­cures from Brus­sels, a se­nior ally of Jeremy Cor­byn has warned.

Shadow for­eign sec­re­tary Emily Thorn­berry said she could not see the Prime Min­is­ter com­ing back with an agree­ment which would meet the six tests set by the party for sup­port­ing any deal.

In an in­ter­view with the FT Week­end mag­a­zine, she said they would not vote for a “flimsy bit of pa­per” sim­ply be­cause the Gov­ern­ment said the al­ter­na­tive was nodeal.

A Labour source said the party’s po­si­tion had not changed and that Ms Thorn­berry was sim­ply be­ing “scep­ti­cal” about the prospects of the Gov­ern­ment reach­ing an ac­cept­able agree­ment.

Nev­er­the­less her com­ments add to the pres­sure on Mrs May, who is fac­ing strong op­po­si­tion to her Che­quers blueprint for leav­ing the EU from hard­line Brex­i­teers.

With­out sup­port from some op­po­si­tion MPs, the Gov­ern­ment may strug­gle to get any agree­ment through Par­lia­ment.

Down­ing Street is hop­ing that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit will force crit­ics to fall in line be­hind the Che­quers plan.

The ef­fect of a no-deal Brexit on house prices was raised by the gov­er­nor of the Bank of Eng­land yes­ter­day. Mark Car­ney said that a worst-case sce­nario would see prices fall 35% over three years.

But Ms Thorn­berry has warned min­is­ters ap­peared to be head­ing to­wards a de­feat on a deal, paving the way for a gen­eral elec­tion.

“I can’t see them com­ing back with a deal that is go­ing to meet our six tests and I can’t see them com­ing back with a deal that will unite the Tory party, for heaven’s sake,” she said. “They are not ca­pa­ble of gov­ern­ing . . . We’re ei­ther go­ing to have a gen­eral elec­tion in the au­tumn or we’re go­ing to have it in the spring.”

Her com­ments will come as a set­back to Labour pro-EU cam­paign­ers – who want the party to back a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum in­stead.

How­ever, Ms Thorn­berry said the Che­quers plan, which would see Bri­tain main­tain a “com­mon rule­book” with the EU for trade in goods and agri­cul­ture, was too vague to work.

Mean­while, cam­paign­ers have won a High Court chal­lenge against the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion over spend­ing by Vote Leave in the run-up to the EU ref­er­en­dum.

The Good Law Project brought a ju­di­cial re­view against the com­mis­sion, ar­gu­ing it failed in its duty to reg­u­late the ref­er­en­dum process ahead of the vote in June 2016.

In a rul­ing yes­ter­day, Mr Jus­tice Leg­gatt said the com­mis­sion had “mis­in­ter­preted” the def­i­ni­tion of ref­er­en­dum ex­penses in re­la­tion to the Vote Leave cam­paign.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the com­mis­sion con­cluded in July, fin­ing Vote Leave £61,000 over the mat­ter, and re­ferred it to the po­lice.

Mr Jus­tice Leg­gatt said the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion’s find­ings were made on a dif­fer­ent le­gal ba­sis so the High Court pro­ceed­ings re­mained rel­e­vant.

Emily Thorn­berry

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