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Jeremy Corbyn warns his MPs 'not to engage' with May's government until no-deal Brexit ruled out

Meanwhile, a UK government timeline has estimated that a second Brexit referendum would take over a year to organise.
Jan 17th 2019, 6:05 PM 11,675 40

LABOUR LEADER JEREMY Corbyn has warned his MPs that they shouldn’t engage with Theresa May’s government until a no-deal has been ruled out.

In the letter to his parliamentary party colleagues, Corbyn congratulated them on “inflicting the biggest ever loss on any sitting government”, and said that they were on a path to sparking a general election, or, if that failed, campaigning for a People’s Vote (that means a second referendum on EU membership).

A document obtained by The Telegraph today has indicated that it would take a year for the UK government to prepare for a second referendum, although this has been contested by the British electoral commission, saying it would only take half that time.

May’s Brexit deal failed to get the House of Commons approval this week, losing by a record-breaking 230 votes (May needed 320 votes to pass the deal, she got 203). 

The letter from Corbyn continues:

“The Prime Minister has offered to open talks with Opposition Parties, however, I have been absolutely clear that any starting point for talks about breaking the Brexit deadlock must be on the provision that the threat of a disastrous no-deal outcome is ruled out. This is a position that has now been adopted by First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

I urge colleagues to respect that condition and refrain from engagement with the government until ‘no deal’ is taken off the table.

The letter was sent around the same time that two senior Labour figures – Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper – were seen emerging from talks with the government. Other Labour MPs have indicated publicly in the UK media that they wouldn’t be heeding Corbyn’s orders.

In a letter to the Prime Minister today, Corbyn said: “on behalf of the Labour Party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome. The £4.2 billion currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of our cash-starved public services on which people rely.”

I am disappointed that there have already been several briefings in which you continue to rule out a customs union. A new customs union is part of a solution favoured by most businesses and trade unions, and one that I believe could command a majority in the House of Commons. 

May will miss next week’s annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos to focus on Brexit negotiations, sending ministers in her place, Downing Street said today.

“She will not be going to Davos. She will be focused on matters here,” May’s spokeswoman said, adding that “there will be government ministers attending”.

The embattled Prime Minister has until Monday to come up with her alternative plan for Brexit; the EU has said it won’t renegotiate with the UK, and will not drop the contentious backstop. 

It was announced today that MPs will debate that plan in the House of Commons on Monday 29 January. Legally, the UK must leave the Eu by 29 March, unless an extension to Article 50 is requested, and granted by the EU’s 27 member states.

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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