Backbench Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Caroline Flint are set to meet Michel Barnier in Brussels today, where they will tell the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator of their efforts to secure a deal that will gain Commons approval.
As two members of the recently established cross-party group ‘MPs For A Deal’, Kinnock and Flint – who both represent seats that voted Leave in 2016 – will outline the work that they have been undertaking in the hope that the UK can leave the EU with a withdrawal agreement in place.
They are expected to argue that MPs from across the Commons have a “renewed appetite” to get an exit deal agreed and approved by parliament. The basis for this compromise would be Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement bill, which was never put to a vote by the government.
Commenting on the meeting arranged for this afternoon, Kinnock said: “We look forward to a constructive meeting with Mr Barnier about the state of the UK-EU Article 50 negotiations and the type of Brexit deal Prime Minister Johnson should put before the UK parliament in October.
“MPs want our departure resolved, and so do the British people. Mr Barnier needs to know that, while both sides need to avoid a disastrous no-deal scenario, further delay without a clearly defined purpose will simply add to voter anger.
“Despite the political rhetoric, much of the Withdrawal Agreement is not contentious. It was the lack of clarity over the future relationship which was the sticking point, and for others the Irish backstop.
“MPs for a Deal are not suggesting that the new deal should be a carbon copy of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, rather that it provides a solid and realistic basis on which to build in order to reach a compromise that can pass in the Commons and avert a catastrophic no-deal crash-out.”
Flint, MP for Don Valley and co-ordinator of the group, added: “I hope we can support UK government efforts to secure a deal by emphasising to Mr Barnier that there is a renewed appetite among MPs to secure a deal, to avoid no deal, and to provide certainty for UK businesses, citizens and for EU nationals in the UK.
“Mr Barnier must recognise that if the EU reaches an agreement with the UK, there is a much greater chance of such a deal achieving a majority in the Commons. The British people and many MPs want this matter settled, sooner rather than later.”