Jeremy Corbyn suffers biggest Brexit rebellion and frontbench resignations as Labour splits erupt

Posted On: 
13th June 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has suffered his biggest ever Brexit rebellion as well as a raft of frontbench resignations as Labour's splits over Europe burst into the open.

Jeremy Corbyn had ordered his MPs to abstain on the EEA amendment.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader had ordered his MPs to abstain on a House of Lords amendment to the Government's flagship EU Withdrawal Bill calling for Britain to join the European Economic Area.

But 75 of them snubbed their boss to back the so-called 'Norway model', which would effectively keep Britain in the single market after Brexit.

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A total of 15 also broke the Labour whip to vote against EEA membership, taking to total size of the rebellion to 90 - more than a third of the party's MPs.

Previously, the biggest Labour rebellion on Brexit was when 64 MPs voted to support staying in the European Union last December.

The Lords amendment was defeated by 327 votes to 126, while a separate Labour amendment calling for the UK to seek full access to the single market was voted down by 322 to 240.

Shortly before the vote took place, Labour announced that shadow Cabinet Office minister Laura Smith, as well as Parliamentary Private Secretaries Ged Killen, Ellie Reeves, Tonia Antoniazzi and Anna McMorrin had all quit the frontbench in order to vote against the party whip.

It emerged later Rosie Duffield had also quit as a PPS.

Mr Corbyn said: "I would like to thank Laura, Ged, Ellie, Tonia and Anna for their work with the Labour frontbench. I look forward to working with all five in a Labour government that invests in all our communities and gives real hope to our people.

"I understand the difficulties MPs representing constituencies which voted strongly for Leave or Remain have on the EEA amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

"The Labour party respects the outcome of the EU referendum and does not support the EEA or Norway model as it is not the right for option for Britain. It would leave us with next to no say over rules we have to follow, it does not allow us to negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union and it fails to resolve the Irish border issue.

"But we are not voting with the Government on this amendment because the Conservatives offer no plan for securing the full tariff free access to the EU's internal market, which is so vital for jobs and living standards in our country. 

"Labour will continue to use every opportunity to hold the Government to account and protect jobs, rights and living standards."

Theresa May also suffered a rebellion, with around a dozen Tory MPs voting to support EEA membership.