Jeremy Corbyn braced for major Labour rebellion on soft Brexit proposal

Posted On: 
12th June 2018

Jeremy Corbyn is braced for a major rebellion by pro-Remain Labour MPs as the flagship Brexit legislation returns to the Commons.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer
PA Images

More than 70 of his troops are gearing up to defy the leadership and vote in favour of Britain staying in the European Economic Area (EEA) after Brexit, according to the Sun.

The so-called ‘Norway model’ would effectively keep the UK in the single market and subject to free movement rules in what would be one of the softest Brexit arrangements possible.

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But Labour MPs in seats which voted to leave the EU have also piled pressure on the leadership and urged Mr Corbyn not to soften his stance on ending free movement once the UK quits the bloc.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has called for MPs to back his newly-tabled amendment calling for a “single market deal” with the EU, as he argues the EEA is not an option.

The EEA amendment is the only one of the 15 tabled by the Lords that the Labour leadership does not support.

Anti-Brexit Labour MPs lobbied Mr Starmer for an hour yesterday to raise concerns about his plan.

"Not many of us were persuaded that a bespoke deal [with the EU] is doable," a source told the Times.

"We wanted to tell Keir we think his amendment is cake-ism. He’s missing an opportunity, especially when there are potential Conservatives to coalesce with."

Meanwhile, the letter from pro-Leave MPs - seen by the Independent and spearheaded by Stoke MP Gareth Snell - urged Mr Corbyn not to "ignore" public fears about immigration.

It said bowing to the pro-Remain wing of the party would result in a "huge democratic deficit".

In a blog for Labour List, Mr Snell wrote: “Most Labour MPs are in seats that voted leave.

"My constituents could rightly ask whether we have really left the EU if we are still subject to all the rules, regulations and obligations that come from membership.”


Theresa May meanwhile is also battling her party to avoid defeat, and could face humiliation at the hands of Tory rebels on the so-called ‘meaningful vote’ amendment.

The proposal would see the Commons decide what happens next if MPs reject the final Brexit deal. But the Government instead wants a month to decide how to act on its own.

In an article for the Guardian, Mr Starmer urged MPs to back the amendment to "deliver on the commitment for a meaningful vote".

"It would provide a safety valve in the Brexit process," he explained. "It would, in effect, take no deal off the table once and for all."