Labour frontbencher facing the axe after voting for second EU referendum

Posted On: 
1st May 2018

Shadow health minister Lord Hunt could be facing the sack from Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench after voting for a second Brexit referendum.

The Lords have been voting on the Government's landmark EU Withdrawal Bill

Yesterday, the Labour peer backed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill which would give voters the chance to either rubber stamp the final Brexit deal or reverse the UK’s exit from the EU.

The proposals, tabled by the Liberal Democrats, were rejected 202-260 by the Lords.

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However, 51 Labour peers defied their party’s order to abstain and backed the plans, including Lord Hunt, who currently serves on the opposition front bench.

According to HuffPost UK, the shadow health minister will now be hauled in to face the shadow chief whip and Labour Lords leader Baroness Smith for a “discussion” on the matter.

The party has recently taken a hard line over its Brexit stance, with Owen Smith being removed from his post as shadow Northern Ireland Secretary in March after voicing his support for a fresh Brexit vote.

Seizing on the news last night, Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP said: “If Labour want to be taken seriously as a party which respects the decision the people took in the referendum, they must remove Lord Hunt from their front bench.

“All their behaviour to this date has shown a determination to disrupt a successful Brexit, but failure to act now would demonstrate a contempt for those who voted for it.”

Elsewhere, peers inflicted further defeats on the Government yesterday as the landmark Brexit legislation continued its passage through the Upper Chamber – taking the total up to nine.

In a major blow, the Lords voted 335 to 244 in favour of an amendment which would hand parliament the power to decide what happens next if MPs reject the deal she strikes with the EU.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer hailed the result as “a hugely significant moment in the fight to ensure Parliament has a proper role in the Brexit negotiations and that we avoid a no deal situation.”

Supporters of the plan will hope that the size of the majority - 91 - will encourage enough pro-EU Tory MPs to rebel when the legislation returns to the House of Commons.