Revealed: Labour MPs plot to remain in customs union and agree Brexit deal at any cost

Revealed: Labour MPs plot to remain in customs union and agree Brexit deal at any cost

The Labour Party stands accused of “frustrating the democratic will of the people” after leading figures tabled multiple amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The landmark piece of legislation will return to the floor of the House of Commons for detailed scrutiny during its Committee Stage after the party conference season, having been given a Second Reading by a majority of 36 last week.

But the more than 70 pages of amendments, tabled before the Commons rose for its current recess, include numerous attempts to scupper Brexit and undermine the Government’s efforts to act on the public’s instructions and secure the best possible Brexit deal.

Former ministers Chris Leslie and David Lammy have tabled an amendment that would force the UK to remain in the customs union. Their New Clause 13 would not allow a Brexit day formally to be agreed until “provisions that shall allow the United Kingdom to remain a member of the EU common customs tariff and common commercial policy” have been enacted. This would have the effect of preventing the UK from pursuing its own free trade agreements around the world while forcing the country to remain bound by the common external tariff.

The pair have also been joined by the likes of Chuka Umunna, Ben Bradshaw and Paul Farrelly – who held his Leave-backing Newcastle-under-Lyme seat by just 30 votes in June – in backing a clause (New Clause 10) designed to force the UK to maintain a transitional deal of at least two years, including associate membership of the Single Market for the duration of such a transition period.

Among the amendments formally being tabled by Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Keir Starmer on behalf of the Labour frontbench is an attempt to retain the European Charter of Fundamental Rights by removing “the exclusion of the Charter of Fundamental Rights from retained EU law”. This would effectively mean accepting ECJ jurisdiction over UK law after Britain leaves the EU.

In addition, there is an attempt by Leslie, Bradshaw et al to prevent the UK from repealing the European Communities Act 1972 until a deal ratified by Parliament has been agreed between the UK and the EU. If voted through, this amendment would force Britain to accept any deal with the EU in order to leave – however punitive or bad for the country – whilst undermining a key plank of the UK’s negotiating stance.

Speaking to BrexitCentral, senior Conservative backbencher, John Redwood, said: “Labour are turning their backs on their many Leave supporting voters. They are trying to frustrate the democratic will of the people and going back on their election promises. They will reap a bitter harvest for this trickery.”

BrexitCentral will continue to monitor the bill’s progress through Parliament. Click here to read our archive on the bill.