Labour MPs claim ‘we don’t want Brexit blood on our hands’ as they prepare to defy Kier Starmer’s call to vote for Boris’s deal
- Labour MPs set to defy leader Sir Keir Starmer’s call to vote for the Brexit deal
- Around 20 expected to embarrass leader by ignoring abstain or vote against call
- Comes despite warnings those who defy will be sacked from frontbench
About 20, including several frontbenchers, are this week expected to embarrass their leader by ignoring his order either by abstaining or actually voting against the agreement.
One said privately last night: ‘We don’t want to get Brexit blood on our hands.’
It comes despite warnings that any Shadow Minister who defies a three-line whip to support the deal will be sacked from the frontbench.
Europhile Labour MPs are poised to defy Sir Keir Starmer’s call to vote for the Brexit deal, claiming ‘we don’t want Brexit blood on our hands’
Last night, Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle publicly confirmed he would not back the deal, saying Boris Johnson’s ‘downgrade for the UK should not have any Labour fingerprints on it’.
There are also fears among Labour’s high command that some MPs still loyal to Jeremy Corbyn will rebel as a way of punishing Sir Keir for his treatment of the ex-Labour leader.
However, party sources predicted that Sir Keir had avoided any resignations from the Shadow Cabinet itself despite reports that Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds had originally wanted Mr Johnson to ‘own’ the Brexit disaster.
Within hours of the announcement of the Brexit deal on Christmas Eve, Sir Keir insisted that his party would back it despite criticising it as a ‘thin deal’ that could have been much better. ‘At a moment of such national significance, it is just not credible for Labour to be on the sidelines,’ he said.
Last night, Bermondsey MP Neil Coyle publicly confirmed he would not back the deal, saying Boris Johnson’s ‘downgrade for the UK should not have any Labour fingerprints on it’
The move means the last-minute deal is likely to be approved by the Commons this week even if Mr Johnson faces a revolt from Tory MPs.
However, Sir Keir’s decision is being seen as part of the former arch-Remainer’s bid to reconnect with ‘Red Wall’ pro-Brexit voters in Northern and Midlands constituencies who abandoned Labour at the last election to back Mr Johnson’s ‘get Brexit done’ promise.
Many Northern Labour MPs are angry that it was Sir Keir’s own championing for a second referendum as the party’s Brexit spokesman which led Labour to its worst election defeat for 80 years.
One said last night: ‘This is just Keir over-correcting because he got it so wrong last year. It’s hard to take being ordered to back a Brexit deal from a man who upset so many people by not appearing to accept the result of the 2016 referendum.’
Even some Tory Brexiteers have privately mocked former lawyer Sir Keir’s backing of the deal on Christmas Eve ‘before he had seen the details’.
However, party sources predicted that Sir Keir had avoided any resignations from the Shadow Cabinet itself despite reports that Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds had originally wanted Mr Johnson to ‘own’ the Brexit disaster
A member of the Tories’ European Research Group, which has suspended its verdict until a full study of the accord is completed, said: ‘What sort of a lawyer effectively signs it before he’s had a proper look at it?’
Mr Coyle told The Mail on Sunday he would not back the Brexit deal as ‘it’s bad for Britain, bad for business and bad for individuals people’s rights at home and when travelling in future’.
‘Boris Johnson’s majority provides him with ample cannon fodder to get his unprincipled mess through even though it will mean years, if not decades, more wrangling over issues as far reaching as our crucial finance sector, services and even essential security matters,’ he added.
Party sources also said a wider rebellion by Left-wingers in the party had probably been avoided after Len McCluskey, boss of the Unite union, urged Labour MPs this month to back a deal and ‘let’s get Brexit done and out the way’.