Politics update: May moves to allow vote to delay Brexit, as Labour backs second referendum

Theresa May compressor

May moves to allow vote on Brexit delay

Theresa May

Theresa May will allow for a vote to delay Brexit, in an effort to appease Remainer Tories, with EU leaders giving their backing to an extension, according to reports by the Evening Standard.

Reports say the prime minister has made time for a vote to held in a fortnight, which would allow for a two-month delay to Brexit beyond 29 March, in exchange for Remainer Tory rebels’ support.

Earlier this, it was reported that rebel MPs – including work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, justice secretary David Gauke and business secretary Greg Clark – were threatening to back a plan on Wednesday which would see the Commons seize control of the Brexit process, including a delay.

Asked about the prime minister’s plans on Monday, her spokesperson said: “She said that’s not something she wants to do. She wants to leave the European Union on 29 March.”

European Council president Donald Tusk said on Monday that an extension would be a “rational decision”, adding that he had tried to convince the PM of the benefits of the move.

“I believe that in the situation we are in, an extension would be a rational decision but Prime Minister May still believes she will be able to avoid this scenario,” he said on Monday.

Labour officially backs second referendum

Kier Starmer Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour will back a second Brexit referendum, throwing his weight behind support for a fresh vote with remain on the ballot paper, if the party fails to get its own version of the Brexit deal passed in the Commons this week.

The move follows months of disquiet amongst the party’s MPs, with many openly criticising the Labour leadership for not supporting a fresh referendum, such as shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, and deputy leader, Tom Watson, who feared not supporting the move could mean for resignations.

A private briefing sent to Labour MPs on Monday night read: “We’ve always said that any referendum would need to have a credible leave option and remain,”

“Obviously at this stage that is yet to be decided and would have to be agreed by parliament.”

“There’s no majority for a no-deal outcome and Labour would not countenance supporting no deal as an option,” the briefing says. “What we are calling for is a referendum to confirm a Brexit deal, not to proceed to no deal.”

The Independent group will not elect its leader before the end of the year

The Independent Group
The former Labour MPs from the Independent group at their first press conference last week

The independent group of MPs, formed of Labour and Tory MPs who resigned from the party last week, have ruled out electing a leader of their group until the end of the year.

The 11 MPs in the group held their first meeting in Westminster on Monday, with initial conversations about roles and responsibilities, though no discussion about who would become leader of the group is said to have taken place.

“You’ll be gagging to learn we’ve started talking about the other jobs and roles and responsibilities,” said Heidi Allen, a former Conservative, with former Tory MP Anna Soubry adding: “The most important thing this week is Brexit.”

Tony Blair backs independent group

Tony Blair

Former prime minister Tony Blair has said that the Labour party has been ‘taken by populists’, as he threw his weight behind the independent group formed of former Labour and Tory MPs.

Blair said that the current state of the Labour party was “truly mind-boggling”, adding that the party’s incidents of anti semitism were a serious concern and said that the independent group were party of a “fightback” against a Labour party “in thrall” to left-wing populists.

Speaking in Washington DC, Blair said: “The Labour Party’s membership is in thrall to a populism of the left.

“The running sore of the past two years has been the row over antisemitism with Jewish Labour MPs coming under sustained attack, a truly mind-boggling circumstance for a supposedly progressive political party to find itself in.

“Both manifestations of populism exult in savage denunciation of those who disagree especially within their own ranks.”

He added: “But the point is, the fight is not lost. The fightback is under way within the two main parties and outside of them, where last week several MPs defected to form a new political grouping.”

 

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