- Pro-Brexit Labour MPs are ready to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal in order bring her down to install Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, John McDonnell claims.
- The Shadow Chancellor said on Wednesday that anti-EU Labour MPs who have voted with the government on previous Brexit votes will reject the deal May hopes to bring back from Brussels.
- McDonnell said, “small numbers” of Labour MPs would vote with the government.
- Corbyn has whipped Labour MPs to vote against the government’s Brexit deal.
LONDON – Labour Brexiteers will ultimately drop their support for Theresa May’s Brexit plans and vote down any deal she brings back from Brussels, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has claimed.
May’s government is reportedly hoping up to 30 Labour MPs will join with the prime minister and back her Brexit deal.
However, speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, the Shadow Chancellor predicted that Labour’s Brexit rebels would, in the end, reverse their support for May’s deal.
McDonnell claimed that Labour’s staunch pro-Brexit MPs have told him they would consider voting against May’s Brexit deal in order to bring down the Conservatives and install a Labour government.
“Last time [MPs voted on Brexit legislation] there was Kelvin [Hopkins], Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey and Frank Field, [who voted with May]” McDonnell said.
“I had a chat with them while the division bells were going on but Graham Stringer, in particular, said ‘I can’t vote with you this time John but this government will fall apart in the autumn and I’ll reconsider.’
He added: “So some of them might reconsider. There’ll be small numbers.”
With May facing the prospect of Conservative and DUP MPs voting against a Brexit deal this winter, the prime minister may have to rely on support from Labour MPs to get an agreement with the EU through Parliament.
Downing Street briefed last month that it had spoken to up to 30 Labour MPs who said they were considering voting with the government, including Remain-voting MPs like Lisa Nandy, Caroline Flint and Gareth Snell.
However, all of the Labour MPs reputed to be on the list told Business Insider that they hadn’t even been approached by the government.
Sources within the People’s Vote campaign have told BI that they expect an “absolute maximum of 15” to vote in favour of the deal.
‘If they can’t get a deal, move alongside and we’ll negotiate’
Speaking at a post-budget briefing, McDonnell said business figures had expressed their concern about the state of Brexit negotiations. “The big issue today is Brexit and where we are going from here,” he said.
“We were here to say to people that we are just as worried as they are about the uncertainty and lack of assurance from the government about getting a deal. We are really worried about the role that Philip Hammond is playing.
“On one hand, at times he reverts to his Singapore tax haven island off the coast of continental Europe and other times warning about no deal. I keep saying to him, he’s got to stand up in Cabinet and say there has to be a deal.”
He dodged BI’s question on whether Labour would set aside money for no deal Brexit preparations, saying: “We’ve said to them [the government] get on with the deal and if they can’t get a deal, move alongside and we’ll negotiate.
“No deal would be pretty catastrophic and we are convinced there’s a deal to be had. They know that. We’ll support a deal if it protects jobs and the economy.”