Jeremy Corbyn orders Labour MPs to vote against major Brexit bill
Jeremy Corbyn has ordered Labour MPs to vote against a key Brexit bill when it faces its first parliamentary hurdle in the coming days.
Labour said the Repeal Bill - which will enshrine EU laws onto the British statute book - was a “power grab” that would damage workers’ rights and environmental protections.
Nevertheless the legislation is set to pass the second reading stage - which begins on Thursday with the main votes taking place next Monday evening - after the Government secured the backing of Remain-supporting Tory MPs.
Concerns have been raised that the Government will make heavy use of so-called Henry VIII clauses as it puts the bill through parliament, which can be amended or repealed later without scrutiny.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has demanded more guarantees on areas such as citizens' rights and continued participation in the EU customs union and single market during any transition period.
Today a Labour spokesperson said: “Labour fully respects the democratic decision to leave the European Union, voted to trigger Article 50 and backs a jobs-first Brexit with full tariff-free access to the European single market.
“But as democrats we cannot vote for a Bill that unamended would let government ministers grab powers from parliament to slash people’s rights at work and reduce protection for consumers and the environment.
“Parliament has already voted to leave the European Union. But the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill would allow Conservative ministers to set vital terms on a whim, including of Britain’s exit payment, without democratic scrutiny.
“Nobody voted in last year’s referendum to give this Conservative government sweeping powers to change laws by the back door. The slogan of the Leave campaign was about people taking back control and restoring powers to parliament.
“This power-grab Bill would do the opposite. It would allow the government to seize control from the parliament that the British people have just elected.”
A Labour source told PoliticsHome the party does not comment on whipping arrangements. A handful of Leave-supporting Labour MPs are still expected to vote with the Government on the bill.
On the Tory side, pro-Remain backbencher Anna Soubry has rejected claims there was “any chance people like me were going to vote against” it.