Labour at risk of a backlash over threat to vote down '˜crucial' Brexit legislation

The Labour party is facing a potential backlash from supporters after threatening to vote down a 'crucial' piece of legislation in an act that critics warn could derail the Brexit process.
The Bill will begin its second reading tomorrowThe Bill will begin its second reading tomorrow
The Bill will begin its second reading tomorrow

The party has come under fire from its own MPs and councillors for the decision, with some suggesting that any attempt to block the Bill will be seen as a “betrayal of the British people”.

Tory MPs and ministers also rounded on the Labour leadership this evening, accusing them of undermining the Government’s efforts to secure a new deal with the EU.

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But Labour MPs hit back as they warned that the Government’s lack of progress and “unrealistic” demands in negotiations risk Britain ending up with “no deal”.

The Labour leadership announced their intention to vote against the EU Withdrawal Bill ahead of its second reading in the Commons tomorrow.

The Bill is designed to transfer all relevant EU legislation into UK law in a bid to avoid a legal and regulatory “clif-edge” after Brexit, but critics warn that certain clauses in the document – often referred to as Henry VIII clauses – would award the Government “sweeping powers” to change laws “by the back door”.

A Labour spokesman yesterday confirmed that the party had therefore decided it could not support the Bill in its current form.

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“Labour fully respects the democratic decision to leave the European Union [and] voted to trigger Article 50,” they said. “But as democrats we cannot vote for a Bill that unamended would let government ministers grab powers from parliament to slash people’s rights at work and reduce protection for consumers and the environment.”

The announcement follows an appeal by the Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, who on Sunday urged her colleagues against taking a “wrecking ball approach” to the vote.

It met with contempt from a number of Tory MPs, who accused the party of “recklessness”.

The Thornbury MP Luke Hall warned that opposing the Bill “without presenting any alternative approach risks defying the result of the referendum, and risks the most chaotic of Brexit scenarios”. While the veteran Tory MP Bill Cash mocked the party for moving from being “remainers to reversers”.

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The Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey also condemned the move, stating that anyone who votes against the “crucial” Bill at second reading is “betraying the will of the British people”. She was backed up by Brighton Labour councillor who took to Twitter to urge the party to respect the referendum result.

However, Tory minsters have also come under pressure for their performance in Brexit negotiations. Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer today called on the Government to drop some of its “deeply flawed red lines”, while the Edinburgh MP Ian Murray warned that ministers’ “unrealistic expectations” increase the likelihood of leaving “with a bad deal – or even no deal”.