WATCH: Fresh Labour splits as ex-frontbencher says she would prefer no-deal to stopping Brexit

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

A former Labour frontbencher has admitted she is prepared to defy Jeremy Corbyn and back the UK leaving the European Union without a deal.

Sarah Champion has said she is prepared to back a no-deal Brexit over remaining in the EU
BBC Politics Live

Former shadow women and equalities minister Sarah Champion said the party would be “going against democracy” if it tries to halt Brexit.

The Rotherham MP also refused to commit to supporting a vote of no-confidence in the Government if it meant Britain's exit from the bloc would obstructed.

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When asked on the BBC’s Politics Live whether she would prefer a no-deal exit or remaining in the EU, Ms Champion said: “I want us to leave, the country wants us to leave and for our democracy I think we have to leave.

“So therefore if it came to it, I would take no-deal if it meant we could leave, because we have to leave.”

The Labour leadership recently shifted its policy to backing a second EU referendum on any Brexit deal negotiated by a Conservative Prime Minister, or on a no-deal exit.

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have said they are prepared to take Britain out of the EU on the 31 October deadline, with or without an agreement, if they become the next Prime Minister. 

Ms Champion’s intervention marks a blow for Jeremy Corbyn ahead of any confidence vote, given the slim Commons majority that ministers hold with the DUP.

Under such a move, the opposition would need to keep the vast bulk of its own MPs onside, while winning over rebel Tories in order to bring down the Government and potentially force a general election.

Ms Champion said she “did not know” whether she would side with her colleagues if such a vote took place, adding: “If my party comes out as a Remain party rather than trying to find a deal, or rather than trying to exit, I can’t support that, it goes against democracy.”

When asked why she refused to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal in any of the three occasions it was presented to the Commons, Ms Champion responded: “It’s poker isn’t it? If I’m being complete honest, I hoped she would listen to what the Labour frontbench was saying and would move and she didn’t.”

The Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, said: “A willingness to prop up a disastrous No-Deal Brexit, which would put at risk the jobs of thousands of Sarah Champion's constituents is not just a complete dereliction of duty, but is frankly dangerous.

“No one voted for a Brexit which makes them poorer, and if Jeremy Corbyn truly believes in a People's Vote, then surely Labour must remove the whip from any MP who'd vote in favour of Boris Johnson and No Deal in a No-Confidence Motion.”