Jeremy Corbyn allies deny Labour plans to abstain on May’s Brexit deal

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  • Senior Labour source denies claim that Labour plans to abstain on the upcoming vote on May’s Brexit deal.
  • A website known to be close to Corbyn’s senior team claimed the party could abstain in order to force the DUP to abandon May’s government and force a general election.
  • Any abstention by Labour MPs could allow May to pass her deal with the EU.
  • However a source close to Corbyn told Business Insider that the claims have “no basis in fact.”

LONDON – A senior Labour source close to the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed suggestions that the party will abstain on the upcoming meaningful vote on the Brexit deal as having “no basis in fact.”

A post published on Sunday by the website Skwawkbox, which is known to be close to figures in Corbyn’s senior team, suggested that the party could abstain on the vote in order to secure support from the Democratic Unionist Party for triggering an early general election.

However, a source close to Corbyn told Business Insider that the claim about Labour’s Brexit tactics “has no basis in fact.”

“This piece doesn’t represent our position at all,” the source said.

“The story has no basis in fact. It is not a scenario anyone is thinking about.”

The DUP, which props up May’s minority government, has promised to vote against May’s deal when it comes before Parliament later this month but withdraw its support from the government entirely if the vote on the deal passes.

This has led to the suggestion that Labour could abstain in order to force a fatal blow to May’s governing majority.

“The key to Labour’s tactics over the coming two weeks or so will be the DUP,” the website wrote on Sunday.

“Labour could not support May’s deal – but an abstention on [the meaningful vote] would bring things to the point where the DUP would be faced with a choice between bringing down the government or living with a backstop that would put it on a probably permanently-different basis to the rest of the UK…

“This could see a no-confidence vote in play, probably on Jan 22 – opening the door to a general election by 21 March and the opportunity for a Corbyn government to seek an extension to Article 50 when the EU commission meets that week.”

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Skwawkbox

The claim comes as the party comes under growing pressure to back a second Brexit referendum.

The Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that backing a so-called People’s Vote now would “divide” the country.

“It is the responsibility of government to unite the country not divide it,” he said, adding that an incoming Labour government would instead seek to negotiate “a different, better deal,” with the EU.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary also accused the People’s Vote campaign of using the issue to attack the Labour party.

“I think some people within the People’s Vote movement seem to think that their purpose is to slap the Labour party around,” she told BBC 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.

Sources close to the Labour leader have previously told Business Insider that they are extremely reluctant to back another referendum.

They claim the party has conducted private polling and focus groups in key marginal seats the party is targeting, which suggest that doing so could cost Labour the next general election.