83 Labour MPs: Make a public vote your bottom line, Jeremy

Sienna Rodgers
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

83 Labour MPs have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him not to agree any Brexit deal without laying down another referendum as a condition of his support.

Last week, Theresa May reached out to the Labour leader and expressed a willingness to find a way through the Brexit impasse that has brought the process to a standstill.

The Prime Minister tweeted a video over the weekend in which she said: “People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. And I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often.”

The cross-party negotiations have not been productive so far, but it is thought that the government could be ready to compromise on some of Corbyn’s five demands for Brexit – particularly a UK-EU customs union. Such a move would anger Tory MPs and Brexiteers in the cabinet, yet would likely allow May to push her withdrawal agreement through the Commons.

Labour is understood to favour another EU referendum only in the circumstances that ‘Remain’ would be pitched against a “damaging Tory Brexit” on the ballot paper. The negotiating team has not laid down a public vote as a condition for backing any deal.

Labour MPs, activist groups and shadow cabinet members Tom Watson and Emily Thornberry have argued that this approach would not align with conference policy and that any deal – even one that meets Corbyn’s demands – should be ‘put to the people’ in a ‘confirmatory ballot’.

The letter signed by 83 Labour MPs and sent to Corbyn reads: “It is not Labour’s job to rescue Theresa May and usher in her successor. We need a general election to kick out the Tories. It is our job to find a find a way to break the deadlock. In our view, the only way to do that is with a public vote.”

It contends that any compromise deal would only be “legitimate” if signed off by the public, and that insisting on another public vote would increase the likelihood of an early general election, which is the leadership’s top priority.

The original signatories of the letter form part of ‘Love Socialism, Hate Brexit’ group of pro-EU, left-wing MPs, including shadow ministers Marsha de Cordova and Clive Lewis. It is designed to show that parliamentary party pressure comes from members across all factions, not exclusively Corbynsceptics.

On Monday afternoon, a Labour spokesperson said: “Following further communication between the Brexit negotiating teams over the last 48 hours, Labour Party and government officials are meeting this evening.”

This story will be updated if more signatories are added…

Below is the full text of the letter and list of signatories.

Dear Jeremy,

In a desperate move by a Prime Minister who has run out of options, the Labour Party has been invited to enter negotiations with Theresa May about reaching cross-party agreement on a Brexit deal. With no support in parliament or in her own party, the Prime Minister has turned to Labour to bail her out.

But Theresa May has been clear that the legally binding part of the Brexit deal, the Withdrawal Agreement, cannot be renegotiated. This means that the only concessions Labour could obtain will be non-binding assurances about the future relationship. Any future Tory Prime Minister could simply rip up these “guarantees” after Theresa May leaves office, and it is the stated aim of the vast majority of Tory MPs to do precisely this.

The only way to guarantee jobs, rights and protections – and Labour’s reputation with its membership and the electorate – is to support a confirmatory public vote on any option which is agreed by parliament, which will put additional pressure on the government to hold the early general election the country needs.

Under the current leadership, Labour is offering a vision of hope which has inspired millions of people. Tory Brexit threatens this, and so does any perceived participation in delivering it. Any compromise deal which is now agreed by parliament will have no legitimacy if it is not confirmed by the public.

The views of members are clear. Labour’s democratically established policy, passed at party conference in September 2018, is to oppose a Brexit deal which does not meet Labour’s six tests and put any deal that does to a public vote. It would be untenable for Labour not to insist on a public vote on a deal which did not meet these tests.

It is not Labour’s job to rescue Theresa May and usher in her successor. We need a general election to kick out the Tories. It is our job to find a find a way to break the deadlock. In our view, the only way to do that is with a public vote.

We – your supporters – urge you to make a confirmatory public vote your bottom line in negotiations with Theresa May and to fight to bring this government down.

Original signatories from Love Socialism, Hate Brexit (18):
1. Marsha de Cordova MP
2. Janet Daby MP
3. Anneliese Dodds MP
4. Rosie Duffield MP
5. Ruth George MP
6. Preet Gill MP
7. Ged Killen MP
8. Clive Lewis MP
9. Rachael Maskell MP
10. Anna McMorrin MP
11. Stephen Morgan MP
12. Chi Onwurah MP
13. Kate Osamor MP
14. Luke Pollard MP
15. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP
16. Alex Sobel MP
17. Paul Sweeney MP
18. Catherine West MP

Additional signatories that support the sentiment of this letter (65):
1. Debbie Abrahams MP
2. Rushanara Ali MP
3. Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP
4. Tonia Antoniazzi MP
5. Margaret Beckett MP
6. Ben Bradshaw MP
7. Chris Bryant MP
8. Karen Buck MP
9. Ruth Cadbury MP
10. Ann Clwyd MP
11. Neil Coyle MP
12. Mary Creagh MP
13. Stella Creasy MP
14. Alex Cunningham MP
15. Geraint Davies MP
16. Tan Dhesi MP
17. Stephen Doughty MP
18. Angela Eagle MP
19. Maria Eagle MP
20. Dame Louise Ellman MP
21. Julie Elliott MP
22. James Frith MP
23. Kate Green MP
24. Lilian Greenwood MP
25. Helen Hayes MP
26. Meg Hillier MP
27. Margaret Hodge MP
28. George Howarth MP
29. Rupa Huq MP
30. Sarah Jones MP
31. Susan Elan Jones MP
32. Darren Jones MP
33. Liz Kendall MP
34. Peter Kyle MP
35. David Lammy MP
36. Chris Matheson MP
37. Steve McCabe MP
38. Kerry McCarthy MP
39. Alison McGovern MP
40. Catherine McKinnell MP
41. Madeleine Moon MP
42. Ian Murray MP
43. Jess Phillips MP
44. Bridget Phillipson MP
45. Steve Reed MP
46. Rachel Reeves MP
47. Ellie Reeves MP
48. Virendra Sharma MP
49. Barry Shearman MP
50. Andy Slaughter MP
51. Owen Smith MP
52. Jo Stevens MP
53. Wes Streeting MP
54. Gareth Thomas MP
55. Stephen Timms MP
56. Anna Turley MP
57. Thelma Walker MP
58. Matt Western MP
59. Martin Whitfield MP
60. Phil Wilson MP
61. Dr Paul Williams MP
62. Daniel Zeichner MP
63. David Hanson MP
64. Seema Malhotra MP
65. David Drew MP

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