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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Labour splits on Brexit leave them lacking credibility as an opposition

As the Tory government continue to push through their disastrous version of Brexit one would be justified in asking: 'where is the opposition?' Well last night, as on other nights, the main opposition came from the only UK-wide anti-Brexit Party, the Liberal Democrats. The Labour Party was in disarray.

As the Independent reports, nearly a quarter of Labour MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn's fence-sitting and voted to keep the UK in the customs union after Brexit:

The Labour leader had instructed MPs to abstain on the issue, but 63 MPs rebelled and voted for an amendment, tabled by Labour’s Chris Leslie, that would have seen the UK retain its customs union membership.

Three Brexit-supporting Labour MPs – Frank Field, Dennis Skinner and Kate Hoey – also defied the party whip and sided with the Conservatives to vote against the amendment.

Proposing his amendment, Mr Leslie said: “New clause 13 would keep open the option for the United Kingdom to stay in the customs union – something that I hope particularly my honourable friends will support.

“We have to avoid that hard border, particularly between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We don’t want our many industries to be turned upside down with all the jobs, and potentially Brexit austerity hitting our constituents for years to come.

“I don’t want that on my conscience. We have to act now.”

An amendment tabled by the Liberal Democrats, to ensure that the British people would have a vote on the final deal, attracted 23 votes, including Plaid Cymru, the sole Green MP and a handful of Labour MPs. Labour and the SNP sat on their hands.

It is little wonder that Labour whips are concerned that they were unable to convince so many of their MPs to toe the party line. Nor is it surprising, when the Labour party line is effectively a capitulation to the Tory Government's agenda and a failure to provide an effective opposition. Labour have no credibility on Brexit.
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