Corbyn urged to back moves to cancel Brexit
UK opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is under renewed pressure to back moves to cancel Brexit altogether if it is the only way to stop the current far-right government leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
Both sides in the Brexit debate appear primed for a showdown after parliament returns from recess on September 3, in moves that could unseat the brand-new, populist administration formed by the Conservative leader, Boris Johnson.
Almost 30 Labour constituency branches are demanding Corbyn, a lifelong Eurosceptic, “support revoking Article 50 if necessary to prevent no deal”, in motions being submitted to the party conference next month.
The hard-left Corbyn has recently admitted Labour could yet fight a general election as a pro-Brexit party, returning to his anti-Brussels roots.
The withdrawal of Article 50, which started the withdrawal process from the EU, could be proposed in parliament with a cross-party attempt to pass legislation to force Johnson to seek an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline.
The former Conservative chancellor, Philip Hammond, has argued that Johnson must commit to a “genuine negotiation with the EU”.
The former finance chief, who stepped down last month, said a no-deal Brexit would “break up the UK”.
“The reality would be a diminished and inward-looking little England,” the former remainer wrote in The Times. While previously muzzled by cabinet collective responsibility while a minister, Hammond is now far more free to speak his mind.
No deal would be a “betrayal of the 2016 referendum … it must not happen”, Hammond added. Observers are unsure if Tory remainers, like Hammond, will back Johnson as prime minister if he remains intent on pushing through a no-deal Brexit.
It was a “myth that a no-deal exit will be painless … all credible economic analysis shows that the losses will far exceed the potential benefits”, wrote “Spreadsheet Phil”, as he is known in the Commons.
“There is no popular mandate for a no-deal Brexit; and no parliamentary mandate for a no-deal Brexit,” he said. “Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted leave or remain in 2016.
“Parliament faithfully reflects the view of that majority and it will make its voice heard.”
Rafael Behr, a pro-remain Guardian journalist, argued that cross-party cooperation could squeeze Labour at the next general election, which could be held in the autumn. The recent Brecon by-election success for the Liberal Democrats was achieved after the other two pro-remain parties stood down. The hope is that the same cooperation can be replicated elsewhere.
The Electoral Commission has approved the use of the phrase “Unite to Remain” on ballot papers beside the party names. It makes it easier for party activists to campaign for former rivals. The Unite to Remain alliance brings backing from pro-European donors, Behr writes.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson rejects any suggestion of supporting a Corbyn-led government.
Swinson wants to persuade independent MPs to follow former Labour leadership contender Chuka Umunna’s example and join her party, which currently has 13 MPs. The new Lib Dem leader cannot attract those fleeing Corbyn while keeping open the option of backing a minority Labour government against Johnson, Behr argues.
Angry Brexit supporters are heavily outnumbered outside parliament by pro-EU campaigners. Picture credit: Eurasia Times