You must back Brexit bill vote tomorrow, Corbyn tells shadow cabinet


Jeremy Corbyn has shown he aims to face down his critics over Labour’s stance on Brexit by imposing a three-line whip on tomorrow’s crucial vote in the House of Commons.

Corbyn today told the shadow cabinet he would impose the maximum measure – which invites disciplinary measures for those who ignore it – when article 50 is voted on by MPs tomorrow evening, LabourList understands.

The high-risk move appears to put him on a collision course with Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, who missed last week’s Brexit vote, and Clive Lewis, the shadow business secretary, who has vowed to walk away from the shadow cabinet unless the bill is amended significantly.

Corbyn’s vow was expected after Nick Brown, the chief whip, told last night’s meeting of the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) that he believed in “consistency”.

Brown’s comments came after a huge rebellion against last week’s three line whip when 47 Labour MPs voted against Theresa May’s bill to trigger article 50. Abbott missed the vote, citing a migraine, although backbenchers mocked her absence as “Brexit flu”. Her aides have insisted she was genuinely unwell.

Some 13 shadow ministers voted against the EU (Notification of Withdrawal Bill), and Corbyn’s position, last week but confusion surrounds the future of anyone frontbencher who rebels tomorrow.

The breaking of a three-line whip has traditionally led to the resignation or sacking of a shadow minister but this weekend Corbyn said he was a “very lenient” person, in what was seen as a reference to the hundreds of occasions in which he rebelled against the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

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