Up to 45 Labour MPs could rebel against Jeremy Corbyn to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal as long as it is “reasonable”, a senior party MP has said.
Former Minister Caroline Flint said opposing any withdrawal agreement would risk handing a no deal exit to the likes of Boris Johnson, as she described Labour’s six tests for deciding how to vote as “disingenuous” for suggesting the UK could enjoy the “exact same benefits” of the single market.
She also claimed voting the deal down will not force an election, as envisaged by Mr Corbyn, and that MPs like her were wrongly coming under “huge amounts of pressure” to oppose it to try and force the Tories out.
Ms Flint stressed to force an election Labour would have to win a no confidence vote in the Government, which she would back “without hesitation”.
But Tories and DUP would not as “that would be Turkeys voting for Christmas”, she said.
Ms Flint told The Yorkshire Post: “There are a number of Labour MPs who feel if there’s a reasonable deal on the table, if you’re going to say no you need some bloody good reasons why if we’re going to end up with no deal.
“We had 15 vote against the EEA, the Norway option, I think you could double or triple the number of MPs who have concerns.”
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "We're confident that those figures are inaccurate and we don't recognise them. Obviously it depends on what we are actually talking about, we don't know what this deal is and I don't know if the Government does either."
The spokesman stressed that Labour had not decided yet how to instruct its MPs to vote as "we don't yet know what the deal is going to be, the Government is still negotiating with itself probably more than it's negotiating with the European Union, but if and when that deal is made we will judge it in Parliament against the six tests that were laid down by the Labour Party".
He added: "If it doesn't meet those tests we will be voting against it."
The spokesman also insisted that the choice in the vote would not be between deal or no deal and said Labour had set out a "clear" Brexit plan.
Read the full interview in Saturday's edition of The Yorkshire Post.