Labour MP Caroline Flint says she would vote to help Boris Johnson pass a Brexit deal

Posted On: 
23rd June 2019

Labour MP Caroline Flint has said she would defy Jeremy Corbyn to help Boris Johnson pass a Brexit deal if he becomes Prime Minister.

Caroline Flint's Don Valley constituency voted heavily in favour of quitting the EU in 2016.
Credit: 
PA

Ms Flint - one of 26 MPs who signed a letter this week urging the Labour leader not to swing his party behind a second Brexit referendum - said the next Prime Minister should "reach out" across the political divide to get an agreement through the House of Commons.

And she revealed that she would prefer to see a no-deal Brexit than vote to revoke Article 50 and kill off plans to leave the European Union altogether.

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The Don Valley MP told the Andrew Marr show: "I would vote for a deal that has the support of the EU27 and the Government if I felt it ticked the boxes that I voted for a deal before. And I voted twice for a deal before.

"But let's be clear about this: Boris Johnson has also been in the chamber voting with Jeremy Corbyn as has Jacob Rees-Mogg when I haven't been. So we've all been in a sitution where we have been in the lobbies with Boris.

"The question is: why are we in the lobbies with Boris? What are we voting for and I'm voting to leave with an orderly Brexit."

Ms Flint, whose constituency voted 68% in favour of leaving the EU at the 2016 referendum, was among 26 MPs who this week urged Mr Corbyn to reject a second referendum and instead back a deal that will ensure Brexit happens by the current 31 October deadline.

The group warned: "A commitment to a second referendum would be toxic to our bedrock Labour voters, driving a wedge between them and our party, jeopardising our role as a party of the whole nation, and giving the populist right an even greater platform in our heartlands."

Speaking on Sunday, Ms Flint, a former Europe minister in Gordon Brown's government, declared: "I think the health of the nation needs us to agree a deal and move on."

Asked whether that meant the next prime minister could "bank on" the support of the 26 Labour MPs, she said: "I don't think anybody should bank on anything in this game that we are playing... But I think yes, I think anybody who is going to be the Tory leader should think about how they reach out, not just to individuals like myself and the other 25 who signed that letter, but also again to the Labour Party."

Ms Flint meanwhile made it clear that she would prefer to see a no-deal Brexit take place rather than join MPs in any Commons push to revoke Article 50, the formal mechanism that started Britain's journey to leave the EU.

She said: "I won't be voting to revoke Article 50...  If that is where we end up, that is where I will be."

But former foreign secretary David Miliband pushed back at the argument being put forward by Leave-supporting Labour MPs.

While he said he had "respect" for Ms Flint - a former Cabinet colleague - Mr Miliband warned: "The arguments that you're making against a second referendum, that it will prolong the agony, that it will fuel the far right, that it will divide the country - those are precisely the arguments against the deals that are on offer now."

He added: "Every single deal that's being promoted - either a no-deal or the Theresa May deal or a version of it - that's only the beginning of the negotiations. Because the difficult negotiations are still to come.

"The far right is already being fuelled by the failure to address in an open and honest way.'

'CATASTROPHIC'

The warning came as Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson said the next general election could be "catastrophic" for Labour and result in a Conservative landslide unless the party backs Remain in a second EU referendum.

At last Wednesday's special Shadow Cabinet on Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he supports a referendum on any Brexit deal approved by MPs, but stopped short of saying whether Labour would campaign for Remain if it ever took place.

In a memo sent to Labour MPs and peers, seen by PoliticsHome, Mr Watson claimed that an 18-page analysis by Labour polling expert Greg Cook which was presented to the meeting had been amended to dilute its pro-Remain message.

He said: "The truth is that all the evidence from recent elections and independent polling is that our current position on Brexit – the defining political issue of our time – has confused many of our voters, lost us the support of many others and significantly damaged our party’s prospects."

Mr Watson added: "It shows that if Labour continues on our current course, we risk a catastrophic loss of votes to parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens that could enable a Conservative landslide.

"We cannot afford to do this, either for the sake of our party or our country. I have not reproduced the main report in this memo because, as far I know, that has not yet appeared in the public domain."

The Shadow Cabinet is expected to further debate Labour's Brexit position when it has its regular weekly meeting on Tuesday.