A Commons proposal spearheaded by Labour rebels including Heidi Alexander aims to derail the Brexit process by throwing out the Government’s Article 50 bill, as introduced to the house this week.
Although the motion only has 18 known backers presently, should members vote for the amendment it would see the government’s compact 137-word European Union (notification of Withdrawal) bill. In the wording of the wrecking motion, Labour MP Heidi Alexander argues that the government has failed to “safeguard British interests in the single market”.
The Guardian reports Alexander said she had taken action because she is “worried that the country is sleepwalking our way out of the single market – that would be disastrous”.
Alexander joins a number of other Labour rebels including Jo Stevens and Tulip Siddiq, both of whom stood down from the shadow front bench this week in opposition to their party leader’s three-line-whip ordering members to vote in favour of the government’s bill. Although Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union before the referendum, since the vote he appears to have accepted the outcome.
Despite the apparent damage the Commons vote on Britain leaving the European Union is doing the Labour Party and the three-line-whip that commands obedience, there has been very little effort made to actually enforce that line. Two of Jeremy Corbyn’s whips — Members of Parliament with the specific job of keeping other members in line and voting with the party — are among the rebels and close Corbyn ally Tom Watson has said even those who resigned the front bench could expect to have their old jobs back within months.
Leaving the door open for returns, Mr. Watson told Sky News: “I hope that those colleagues who feel they need to leave the frontbench because they feel strongly that they have to represent the interests of their voters don’t feel that this is the end.
“I hope that Jo Stevens will be back on the frontbenches in the months and years ahead”.
The government introduced the Brexit Bill this week after the Supreme Court ruled it could not trigger a departure from the European Union without first consulting parliament. While it is extremely unlikely a motion like that of Labour Heidi Alexander will throw out the bill completely, it is considered likely that wrecking amendments to see the bill passed but with enough additions to make it impotent could be tacked on.
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