Cor­byn to ta­ble no-con­fi­dence mo­tion against May ‘soon’

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Peter Walker Po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent

Jeremy Cor­byn yes­ter­day pledged that Labour would call a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion in Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment “soon”, while again in­di­cat­ing that he would pre­fer to ne­go­ti­ate his own Brexit deal rather than call a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum if he be­came prime min­is­ter.

The Labour leader again re­fused to con­firm that an im­me­di­ate chal­lenge to the gov­ern­ment would take place if May, as ex­pected, loses to­mor­row’s key vote on her Brexit plan.

“We will ta­ble a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the gov­ern­ment at a time of our choos­ing, but it’s go­ing to be soon, don’t worry about that,” Cor­byn told BBC One’s The An­drew Marr Show. Pressed on the tim­ing, he added: “We’ll have the vote and then you’ll see.”

Un­der the Fixed-term Par­lia­ments Act, Labour can call a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion which would most likely prompt a gen­eral elec­tion if May lost.

Labour’s plan on Brexit, as de­cided at the party’s con­fer­ence, is to seek a gen­eral elec­tion first. Only if this can­not hap­pen would it look at the pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

While a large ma­jor­ity of party mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to polling, want Cor­byn to ac­tively seek a new ref­er­en­dum, he has pre­vi­ously said it is more likely he would push to take the UK out of Europe with a dif­fer­ent deal.

Cor­byn de­clined to say whether a Labour man­i­festo in a snap gen­eral elec­tion would prom­ise to de­liver Brexit, ar­gu­ing that this would be up to party pro­cesses, but strongly in­di­cated his pref­er­ence would be to de­part with a deal that keeps the UK in a cus­toms union and with ac­cess to the sin­gle mar­ket.

Asked what he would want to de­liver on Brexit if there was an elec­tion and he be­came prime min­is­ter, Cor­byn said: “At the very min­i­mum, a cus­toms ar­range­ment with the Euro­pean Union that gives us a say of what goes on but also avoids the whole is­sue of the prob­lems of North­ern Ire­land, which this deal does.

“What I’m say­ing is we’re cam­paign­ing for a coun­try that is brought to­gether by in­vest­ment. [Peo­ple are] very, very an­gry about the way they’ve been treated in their dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try.”

Pressed on whether he was cam­paign­ing to leave, Cor­byn said: “We’re cam­paign­ing for a cus­toms union.”

Asked later whether Labour would push for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum if there was no gen­eral elec­tion, Cor­byn said: “We’re then into that con­sid­er­a­tion at that point. My own view is that I would rather get a ne­go­ti­ated deal now if we can to stop the dan­ger of a no-deal exit from the EU on 29 March, which would be cat­a­strophic for in­dus­try, cat­a­strophic for trade.”

He in­sisted his Brexit plan, con­demned by some crit­ics as un­re­al­is­tic as it would con­tra­vene ba­sic EU in­ter­nal rules, was vi­able. “The EU is well known for its abil­ity to be flex­i­ble, for its abil­ity to de­lay things,” he said.

He re­jected the idea that one of Labour’s six tests for Brexit – that a deal should repli­cate the ben­e­fits of mem­ber­ship – went against the EU’s ba­sic tenets.

“We’re not tear­ing up the treaty of Rome any more than the EU wants to tear up the treaty of Rome,” he said. “What we’re say­ing to the EU is: ‘This is the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Bri­tain, where we have a coun­try that’s di­vided on this is­sue. We want to bring them to­gether, a trade re­la­tion­ship helps to bring peo­ple to­gether.’ I think they un­der­stand that.

“I think you will find that when you get into se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions as a gov­ern­ment, de­ter­mined to have that good re­la­tion­ship with Europe, that there will be an abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate.”

Labour has sent mes­sages to its MPs to en­sure they are present for to­mor­row’s mean­ing­ful vote and also on Wed­nes­day.

Mean­while, some se­nior Labour fig­ures are con­tin­u­ing to push for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum.

Lon­don’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he would step up his cam­paign for a sec­ond vote if an elec­tion was not called im­me­di­ately. “A pub­lic vote would not only al­low us to move be­yond the cur­rent stale­mate but would ac­tu­ally start the des­per­ately needed process of heal­ing the deep di­vi­sions that have opened within our so­ci­ety,” he wrote in the Ob­server.

Roy Hat­ter­s­ley, the vet­eran Labour politi­cian, also threw his weight be­hind the plan, say­ing the “vast ma­jor­ity” of Labour mem­bers wanted the party to cam­paign for a new ref­er­en­dum.

Jeremy Cor­byn wants a gen­eral elec­tion

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