MPs reject arch-Remainers’ Queen’s Speech amendment backing Single Market and Customs Union membership

MPs reject arch-Remainers’ Queen’s Speech amendment backing Single Market and Customs Union membership

Three Labour MPs were sacked from their shadow frontbench positions and three more have resigned over their support for an unsuccessful anti-Brexit amendment to the Queen’s Speech.

Ruth Cadbury, Catherine West and Andy Slaughter were removed by Jeremy Corbyn last night and Daniel Zeichner quit his frontbench role after they voted for an amendment aimed at blocking Brexit. Gareth Thomas and Rupa Huq reportedly resigned from their roles beforehand in order to back the amendment.

The move, which specifically aimed to keep Britain in the Customs Union and Single Market, was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs by 322 votes to 101.

Significantly, 21 fewer MPs backed last night’s anti-Brexit move, compared with the 122 MPs who voted in February at Third Reading against the Bill that triggered Article 50. Given the change in parliamentary arithmetic since the general election, at first glance it certainly appears to be encouraging news for Brexiteers that the hardcore of arch-Remainers in this Parliament would seem to be fewer in number.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who tabled the amendment, claims that he accepts the referendum result but his amendment suggested that he does not accept the terms of Brexit as understood by most of the rest of the country.

The amendment – backed by some Labour backbenchers as well as MPs from the Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green Party – regretted that the Queen’s Speech did not do any of the following:

  • rule out withdrawal from the EU without a deal
  • guarantee a Parliamentary vote on any final outcome to negotiations
  • set out transitional arrangements to maintain jobs, trade and certainty for business
  • set out proposals to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market
  • set out clear measures to respect the competencies of the devolved administrations
  • include clear protections for EU nationals living in the UK now, including retaining their right to remain in the UK, and reciprocal rights for UK citizens

The most significant of these six points was that explicit statement expressing a desire to remain within the Customs Union and Single Market. As many BrexitCentral authors have made clear time and again, any Brexit deal that entails membership of either of these bodies does not involve taking back control of our borders, our laws, our money and our trade policy and is therefore not Brexit. Some might insist on calling it ‘soft Brexit’ but I would call it ‘non-Brexit’.

So it is heartening that Umunna’s anti-Brexit amendment was so overwhelmingly rejected.

Labour’s official line was to abstain on the vote – hence the sackings and resignations – with 49 of the party’s MPs (including two MPs elected for the first time at the general election and one retread) trooping through the lobby in favour of Umunna’s amendment (along with one teller). Meanwhile, none supported the Conservatives and DUP in opposing it.

It is worth noting, however, that nine Labour MPs had signed Umunna’s amendment but did not follow through in voting for it: Rosie Duffield, Seema Malhotra, Anna McMorrin, Bridget Phillipson, Ellie Reeves, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Alex Sobel, Paul Sweeney and Martin Whitfield – all members of the new intake apart from Malhotra and Phillipson.

The MPs backing the amendment last night are listed below. * denotes a new or returning MP who was not in the 2015-2017 Parliament.

Labour (49 +1 teller)

  1. Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East) (Teller)
  2. Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow)
  3. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West)
  4. Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree)
  5. Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)
  6. Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
  7. Karen Buck (Westminster North)
  8. Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) – sacked from frontbench for rebelling
  9. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)
  10. Ann Coffey (Stockport)
  11. Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark)
  12. Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
  13. *Emma Dent Coad (Kensington)
  14. Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth)
  15. Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood)
  16. Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside)
  17. Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
  18. Mike Gapes (Ilford South)
  19. Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston)
  20. *John Grogan (Keighley)
  21. Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood)
  22. Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch)
  23. Dame Margaret Hodge (Barking)
  24. Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) – resigned from frontbench to rebel
  25. *Darren Jones (Bristol North West)
  26. Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South)
  27. Peter Kyle (Hove)
  28. David Lammy (Tottenham)
  29. Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)
  30. Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East)
  31. Alison McGovern (Wirral South)
  32. Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)
  33. Madeleine Moon (Bridgend)
  34. Ian Murray (Edinburgh South)
  35. Albert Owen (Ynys Môn)
  36. Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley)
  37. Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall)
  38. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)
  39. Gavin Shuker (Luton South)
  40. Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)
  41. Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) – sacked from frontbench for rebelling
  42. Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central)
  43. Wes Streeting (Ilford North)
  44. Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) – resigned from frontbench to rebel
  45. Stephen Timms (East Ham)
  46. Chuka Umunna (Streatham)
  47. Keith Vaz (Leicester East)
  48. Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) – sacked from frontbench for rebelling
  49. John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness)
  50. Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge) – resigned from frontbench after rebelling

SNP (34 + 1 teller)

  1. Hannah Bardell (Livingston)
  2. Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South)
  3. Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber)
  4. Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North)
  5. Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)
  6. Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
  7. Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)
  8. Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline and West Fife)
  9. Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West)
  10. Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde)
  11. Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East)
  12. Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
  13. Martin Docherty-Hughes (West Dunbartonshire)
  14. Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Teller)
  15. Stephen Gethins (North East Fife)
  16. Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran)
  17. Patrick Grady (Glasgow North)
  18. Peter Grant (Glenrothes)
  19. Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts)
  20. Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)
  21. Stewart Hosie (Dundee East)
  22. Chris Law (Dundee West)
  23. *David Linden (Glasgow East)
  24. Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar)
  25. Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South)
  26. Stuart C. McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)
  27. John McNally (Falkirk)
  28. Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West)
  29. Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)
  30. Brendan O’Hara (Argyll and Bute)
  31. Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East)
  32. Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West)
  33. Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)
  34. Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)
  35. Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire)

Liberal Democrat (12)

  1. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)
  2. *Sir Vince Cable (Twickenham)
  3. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland)
  4. *Sir Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)
  5. Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale)
  6. *Wera Hobhouse (Bath)
  7. *Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West)
  8. Norman Lamb (North Norfolk)
  9. *Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne)
  10. *Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  11. *Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross)
  12. *Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire)

Plaid Cymru (4)

  1. Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr)
  2. *Ben Lake (Ceredigion)
  3. Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd)
  4. Hywel Williams (Arfon)

Green (1)

  1. Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)

Independent (1)

  1. Sylvia Hermon (North Down)

No Conservatives or DUP  MPs voted for the amendment.