John McDonnell and Keir Starmer launch bid to woo Labour MPs amid Brexit rebellion fears
John McDonnell and Keir Starmer have launched a charm offensive amid claims that dozens of Labour MPs could rebel and back Theresa May's Brexit deal.
The Shadow Chancellor revealed that the pair have been having face-to-face talks with backbenchers tempted to support the Government rather than risk the UK crashing out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement.
Mr McDonnell also said he and the Shadow Brexit Secretary were drawing up "the impact on individual constituencies” of a Brexit deal in a bid to persuade wavering Labour MPs not to rebel.
He was reacting to claims that as many as 45 Labour MPs are considering voting with the Government when Theresa May puts the final deal before the Commons.
Don Valley MP Caroline Flint told The Independent: “I believe if there is a reasonable deal that stops us crashing out with no deal, we shouldn’t rule it out.”
Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan, told the BBC: "I think all MPs owe it to the country to try and find a way through this and to look at whichever deal comes back with an open mind about what’s in the best interests of our constituents."
But speaking to journalists, Mr McDonnell said: "We are talking to everyone… we have had open door meetings continuously and we will be doing that all over again to explain the position and allow questions to be asked."
Mr McDonnell also confirmed that Labour would not vote for any Brexit deal that did not keep the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU - something regarded as unacceptable by Tory eurosceptics.
He said: "I think increasingly now people are accepting that, where we have positioned ourselves on the customs union, about the close relationship with the single market – I think people are seeing that as the most realistic option to protect our economy.
"We couldn’t support anything other than a permanent arrangement."