Labour plan to amend EU Withdrawal bill to stop 'no deal' Brexit

Posted On: 
26th March 2018

Labour will push for an amendment to the Government's flagship Brexit bill to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal, Keir Starmer will say today.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer says his amendment will act as a "safety valve"

The Government has offered MPs a "meaningful vote" on the final deal, but ministers have suggested that if Parliament rejects the arrangement the only alternative will be a 'no deal' Brexit. 

At a speech in Birmingham this afternoon, the Shadow Brexit Secretary will argue that the Government should be compelled to return to the negotiating table if its first attempt is not deemed acceptable.

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The EU Withdrawal Bill is currently in committee stage in the House of Lords, but MPs will be able to propose fresh amendments when it returns to the Commons for report stage after Easter.

"If Parliament rejects the Prime Minister’s deal, that cannot give licence to her - or the extreme Brexiteers in her party - to allow the UK to crash out without an agreement. That would be the worst of all possible worlds.

“That is why in the coming days – and working with others in the Lords and the Commons – Labour will ensure that an amendment is tabled to the EU withdrawal bill to strengthen the terms of Parliament’s meaningful vote.”

Mr Starmer will argue that the new clause would provide a "safety valve" and avoid putting British business at risk.

"It would remove the possibility of a no vote leading to a no deal. It would bring back control to parliament,” he will say.

However it would raise questions about the timetable of negotiations, given that the two sides only have until December 2020 to conclude a deal. 

Labour are also in turmoil over their own Brexit position, with Jeremy Corbyn sacking Owen Smith on Friday after the then shadow Northern Ireland secretary had repeated calls for a second referendum.