FURIOUS Labour MPs have threatened to quit as Jeremy Corbyn sparked civil war by offering Theresa May a Brexit compromise.
Prominent backbencher Owen Smith said he and “lots of other people” were considering their position after the Labour leader mapped out a Norway-style deal he could sign up to.
In a letter, Mr Corbyn said the “price” of his backing included a permanent UK-wide customs union with the EU, close alignment on the single market and matching Brussels on workers’ rights.
After an outcry, he was forced to write to Labour MPs separately to insist a People’s Vote remained an option – in line with a Brexit strategy agreed at party conference last autumn.
Tory ‘moderates’ such as Oliver Letwin praised the proposal – saying: “This is where cross party consensus can be formed if the PM’s deal fails.”
Fellow ‘Norway’ supporter Nick Boles said: “This takes us a big step closer to a cross-party compromise.”
Workers' rights PM guarantee
DOWNING Street is preparing to formally back a new package of workers’ rights in a deal with Labour MPs next week, it has been claimed.
Insiders said No10 has approached a number of prominent Labour MPs to table an amendment to the PM’s Withdrawal Motion on Thursday – which the Government would support.
The hope is that a large number of Labour MPs will publicly sign up and declare their support for the cross-party push.
Labour’s John Mann and Caroline Flint tabled a workers’ rights package to the PM’s deal at the start of January but the motion was never voted on as it wasn’t picked for debate by the Speaker.
One source said: “They’ve approached a few people including a frontbencher to table this.”
Theresa May and her senior team have held a series of meetings with top union officials over drawing up new primary legislation to guarantee the UK matches the EU on workers’ rights and environmental protection after Brexit.
The move has infuriated the People’s Vote campaign who fear it will “peel off” a sizeable number of Labour MPs and see the PM’s deal pass.
Downing Street declined to comment on Thursday.
Separately, a Labour veteran who voted Leave plans to make a formal bid for a second referendum in the Commons next week.
Roger Godsiff says it was only right that the public should have the “final say” on the Prime Minister’s deal when it is finalised.
He will table an amendment to Theresa May’s ‘Withdrawal’ motion which is set to be debated on Valentine’s Day.
The move is understood to have infuriated campaign chiefs at the People’s Vote – who fear there is no chance of a second referendum bid winning a majority in the House of Commons.
Tory ‘Remainers’ Sarah Wollaston and Philip Lee pulled a proposed second referendum amendment at the last minute last month under intense pressure from People’s Vote.
Mr Godsiff – whose Birmingham Hall Green voted to Remain in 2016 – told The Sun: “The original decision was taken by the people.
“So I think it’s only appropriate that there is a chance for Parliament to give it back to the people for them to make a decision on it.”
Under his proposed amendment, the public will get to vote on three outcomes – the PM’s Brexit deal, No Deal or to Remain in the EU.
But pro-EU Labour MPs slammed Mr Corbyn and branded his new ‘tests’ “nonsense”. He stormed: “Labour’s EU policy is all over the place.”
And speaking to the BBC, Owen Smith stormed: “I stood to be a Labour MP with an understanding of what I was doing.
“And at the moment I may be asked by the Labour Party to row in behind a policy decision that they know, and the government knows, is going to make the people I represent poorer.”
The left-leaning bible, New Statesman, named six Labour MPs likely to resign – Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and Mike Gapes. All back a second referendum.
most read in brexit
Insiders said Thursday’s move by Labour would only fuel speculation Jeremy Corbyn will eventually abstain on the PM’s Brexit deal – allowing it to go through. MPs believe the leadership gave a ‘nod and a wink’ to the 27 Labour MPs who sided with the Government in the crunch Commons showdown at the end of January when Yvette Cooper tried to delay Brexit.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer tried to heal the divide yesterday by insisting a People’s Vote remained an option in Labour’s armoury. And Labour texted MPs to insist it hadn’t been taken off the table.
But Len McCluskey, Unite chief and Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest donor, stirred the fury by “fully endorsing” the Labour leader’s plan. A Unite spokesman said: “We urge all Labour Party members and supporters to get behind them.”
- GOT a news story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL email@example.com