MPS fighting for a second Brexit referendum scrapped their bid to put it before parliament yesterday, blaming Jeremy Corbyn for failing to back them.
A cross-party alliance campaigning for a People’s Vote will not now table an amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit plan ahead of a Commons showdown on Tuesday.
Labour backbenchers Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna and Tory MP Sarah Wollaston were among those who admitted they had failed to rally enough parliamentary support.
They accused Mr Corbyn of ‘facilitating a job-destroying Brexit’ by not doing enough to back their campaign. Dr Wollaston, chairwoman of the Commons liaison committee, insisted calls for a second referendum could succeed if given ‘unequivocal backing’ by the Labour leadership.
Urging Mr Corbyn to ‘do the right thing’ and back a fresh vote, Ms Berger said: ‘Labour should be setting out a different course, not facilitating a job-destroying Brexit.’ MPs opposed to Mrs May’s Brexit plans have tabled a series of amendments for Tuesday that could force her to take an alternative course of action.
Mr Corbyn said he was concentrating on his own amendment, which could give MPs extra powers to either promote a customs union Brexit or legislate for a potential second referendum. It offered ‘the ability to vote on any deal that is finally agreed’, he said.
Meanwhile, union leaders met Mrs May in Downing Street for talks about how to break the Brexit deadlock. They included Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady. Afterwards they said Mrs May failed to rule out a no-deal Brexit nor offer the assurances they wanted on jobs and workers’ rights.
Last night work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd defied Downing Street by calling for ministers to be given a free vote on Tuesday — and refused to rule out resigning if it is denied. She told BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘I have called for a free vote for the amendments and we’ll see what position the government takes.’