LONDON — Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s main opposition, just emailed all members of Labour to tell them why the party will be voting to trigger Article 50, thereby starting the two-year negotiation period of Britain leaving the European Union.
In the email he said that the party “respects the will of the British people. But we do not respect the will of a Tory government that is threatening to relegate Britain to a bargain basement tax haven.”
He then goes on to say that while the party will support triggering Article 50, Labour “also will use every means at our disposal to make sure jobs, living standards, workers’ rights and environmental protections are protected in the negotiations that follow.”
Britain’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the government must allow Parliament to vote on the triggering of Article 50.
On January 26, the government published its “Brexit bill,” and if it is passed, it would give Prime Minister Theresa May the authorisation to start the Brexit process.
Meanwhile, Corbyn’s email follows his order of a three-line whip instructing his MPs to vote next week to trigger Article 50. However, on January 27, Labour suffered a second resignation from the party’s frontbench after imposing this order.
Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens said on Friday that she felt forced to step down because her support for the EU was a “clear issue of principle and conscience.”
Stevens’ departure follows the resignation of the shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq the day before. Several other Labour frontbenchers are also considering their position. Incredibly, this includes two MPs who are charged with ensuring their colleagues vote for the measure.
Here is the email in full:
“Dear [Labour party member’s name]
“Labour campaigned in last year’s referendum to remain in the European Union — and nearly two-thirds of Labour voters voted to remain.
“As we all know, the result was a vote to leave.
“We are not a party for the 48% or the 52%, but for everyone. We have an important role to play in bringing the country together and getting the best possible deal from Brexit.
“Labour respects the will of the British people. But we do not respect the will of a Tory government that is threatening to relegate Britain to a bargain basement tax haven.
“That’s why we will vote to trigger Article 50 in the European Union Withdrawal Bill — but also will use every means at our disposal to make sure jobs, living standards, workers’ rights and environmental protections are protected in the negotiations that follow.
“So Labour has tabled a series of amendments to the Bill to ensure there is meaningful parliamentary scrutiny at every stage and a vote on the final deal.
“We have also tabled an amendment to build in the broad principles we need to get the best outcome for our country — including tariff-free access to the single market and an anti-tax haven amendment to make sure the Prime Minister does not use Brexit as an excuse to duck out of tackling tax avoidance and evasion.
“And we will support amendments to ensure the Tories don’t yet again attack people’s rights at work.
“This is a difficult moment for our party. We campaigned to remain, but we have to accept the democratic result.
“We will be reaching out to our friends and allies in the European socialist and progressive parties to help secure an agreement that strengthens cooperation and solidarity across Europe.
“We must remember that what unites us is far stronger than what divides us: our commitment to defend our NHS, to campaign against the Tories’ cuts to schools and social care — and our determination to build a country in which no one and no community is left behind.
“We will vote for Article 50, but we will not be giving the Tories a blank cheque on their damaging agenda for Brexit — or any of their other failures.
“Jeremy Corbyn MP
“Leader of the Labour Party”
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