Brexit Chequers deal faces fresh pressure from Labour

Shadow UK foreign secretary says lack of EU exit plan would lead to May’s departure

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry: a workable Brexit deal is  “just not going to happen” under Theresa May. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/PA

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry: a workable Brexit deal is “just not going to happen” under Theresa May. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

 

The UK’s opposition Labour Party is set to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, according to one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior colleagues, who predicts that the lack of a viable exit from the EU would lead to the UK prime minister being forced from office before Christmas.

Emily Thornberry, shadow UK foreign secretary, told the Financial Times a workable deal was “just not going to happen” under Ms May. She said there would need to be a general election within months given the likelihood that the prime minister would be defeated on the crucial vote on any Brexit deal.

Labour’s opposition to the deal means it would require as few as 10 Tory MPs – from either the party’s hardline Eurosceptic or pro-EU wings – to defeat the government. Some Labour Brexiteers could still swing behind Ms May but few would want to avoid a chance to bring down the government.

Second Brexit referendum

Already 25 Conservative MPs have pledged to defeat Ms May’s Chequers blueprint for the UK’s relations with the EU post-Brexit, while several Europhile Conservatives have backed a second Brexit referendum.

Many MPs argue that the prime minister could not survive a defeat on her Brexit deal, which has become the centrepiece of her two years in office. “It all depends on what Labour does,” said one minister. “If they are going to vote against us then that means she really is in trouble.”

Sterling’s sensitivity to Brexit was underlined as the pound yo-yoed in the course of less than an hour in early afternoon trading. It fell 0.3 per cent on Ms Thornberry’s comments, then spiked 0.5 per cent higher on initially positive remarks from Brexit minister Dominic Raab following discussions with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018