“It’s time for parliament to work together and agree on a Plan B” – Corbyn’s Brexit response

Jeremy Corbyn

Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the Prime Minister’s latest Brexit statement.

I would like to thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement and for the meetings she has agreed to in recent days. Mr Speaker, the government’s approach to Brexit has now become a national embarrassment.

After two wasted years of failure – broken promise after broken promise – the Prime Minister finally accepted the inevitable last week, voted to extend Article 50 and went to Brussels to negotiate.

Last week’s summit represented another negotiating failure for the Prime Minister. Her proposals were rejected and new terms were imposed on her. We now have an extension until mid-April or May 22nd, and despite the clearly expressed will of this House, we still face the prospect of a disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit.

This is even more remarkable given that the Minister for the Cabinet Office told this very chamber, and I quote: “seeking such a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless”.

Mr Speaker, this failure has been compounded by the Prime Minister’s attempts last week to pin the blame for this debacle on others. It was wholly inappropriate last Wednesday for the Prime Minister to try and pit the people against MPs doing their duty to hold the government of the day to account.

In a climate of heightened emotions, where MPs on all sides have received threats and intimidation, I hope the Prime Minister will reflect and think again about making such dangerous and irresponsible statements.

Every step of the way along this process, the government has refused to reach out, refused to listen and refused to find a consensus that can represent the views of the whole of the country not just her own party.

Large parts of our country continue to be ignored by this government. No wonder so many people felt compelled to march on the streets or sign petitions over the weekend. Even the most ardent of Leavers thinks this the government has failed.

It is easy to understand the frustration at this chaos. It exists in this House in Brussels and across the country. The government has no plan, for them it’s all about putting the Conservative Party before the country.

Given the Prime Minister admitted she does not have the numbers for her deal. Will she accept today that her deal is dead and that the House should not have its time wasted giving the same answer for a third time?

The Prime Minister has succeeded in unifying two sides against her deal. The CBI and TUC’s unprecedented joint statement last week demanded a plan B, which protects jobs, workers and industry. Has the Prime Minister got their plan B?

The government has failed and let the people down whether they voted leave or remain. The country cannot afford to continue in this Tory crisis. It’s time for parliament to take control and that’s why later today we will be backing the amendment in the name of the Rt Hon member for West Dorset.

You made it clear last week Mr Speaker that for the Prime Minister to bring a deal back there must be significant changes. There are none. Rather than trying to engineer a way to bring back the same twice-rejected deal will the Prime Minister instead allow rather than fight plans for indicative votes?

She cannot both accept her deal does not have the numbers and stand in the way of finding an alternative. It is ridiculous to suggest that Parliament taking control is “overturning democratic institutions”. It is parliament doing its democratic job. And so will she agree to abide by the outcome of these votes?

On behalf of the Labour Party, we will continue with cross party discussions to find a way forward and I thank Hon and Rt Hon members who have met with me and colleagues. I believe there is support in this House for a deal based on an alternative that protects jobs and the economy through a customs union and full single market access and allows us to continue to benefit from participation in vital agencies and security measures.

If the government refuses to accept this, we will support measures for a public vote to stop a no deal or chaotic Tory deal. The government has had over two years to find a solution and has failed.

It’s time we put an end to this move on from the chaos and failure and begin to clean up the mess. It’s time for this parliament to work together and agree on a Plan B. If she is brave, the Prime Minister would help facilitate this.

If not, this parliament must send a clear message in the coming days. Mr Speaker I hope where the government has failed this House can succeed.

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