- Jack Taylor/Getty
- Labour is officially planning to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
- The party will vote against the deal if it doesn’t meet Labour’s six Brexit tests “no ifs, no buts,” Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said in a speech Tuesday.
- Theresa May’s Chequers plan is a long way off from meeting Labour’s six tests.
- The prime minister is at risk of a disastrous parliamentary defeat.
- Starmer also said remaining in the EU must be an option.
- The Shadow Brexit Secretary speech’s received a standing ovation.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – Labour is formally planning to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the party’s Brexit spokesperson Sir Keir Starmer said on Tuesday, paving the way for an almighty parliamentary battle.
Starmer told Labour party conference it is “increasingly likely” that whatever deal May brings back from Brussels will not meet Labour’s six Brexit tests, and Labour MPs will be instructed to vote against it.
Labour’s six tests demand that the UK government’s Brexit deal must deliver “the exact same benefits” of the EU’s single market and customs union, as suggested by former Brexit Secretary David Davis in 2017.
“I know that people want clarity on where we stand on the deal now,” Starmer told Labour conference.
“Because some have said Labour could vote for any deal the Tories reach. Some have said we may abstain. Some have said we may support a vague deal – a “blind Brexit” – that gives no detail about the terms of our future relationship.”
“So, let me be very clear -right here, right now: If Theresa May brings back a deal that fails our tests – and that looks increasingly likely – Labour will vote against it. No ifs, no buts.”
Significantly, Starmer warned May that Labour will not vote for a deal which is vague on the UK’s future relationship with the EU – also known as a “blind” Brexit – amid suggestions that Labour would accept that.
“And if the Prime Minister thinks we’ll wave through a vague deal asking us to jump blindfolded into the unknown she can think again. You can’t meet Labour’s tests by failing to provide answers. We will vote down a blind Brexit,” he said.
Starmer’s announcement will add to May’s fears that a disastrous parliamentary defeat on her Brexit deal is a real possibility, with Conservative MPs from the pro-Brexit and pro-EU wings of the party set to vote down the deal.
There is also a feeling that defeat on such a defining issue would force May to consider her leadership, amid speculation that those around her are secretly preparing for another snap general election.
The Conservatives accused Labour of “playing political games” and “trying to frustrate” the 2016 referendum result.
“Labour seem determined to take us all back to square one by rejecting a deal out of hand then trying to delay Brexit and re-run the referendum,” Brexit minister Robin Walker MP said.
‘Nobody is ruling out Remain as an option’
Labour’s conference in Liverpool has been dominated by the issue of Brexit.
In his speech, Starmer also confirmed that staying in the EU could be an option in any second Brexit referendum, for which he received a standing ovation from party members in the conference hall.
Sir Keir Starmer: "Nobody is ruling out Remain as an option"
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 25, 2018
This followed Labour figures agreeing on a motion which said that the party would consider supporting another referendum if there is no Brexit deal and no “immediate” general election takes place.
A YouGov poll published over the weekend found that 86% of Labour members want the party to back another referendum. However, support for another referendum is not as strong among Labour MPs.
Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman told Business Insider that another referendum is not what the party “should be aiming for” and said she was not “wild” about the idea.