Labour’s most recent effort to block a cliff-edge Brexit last night (June 12) was narrowly defeated in the Commons by a margin of 11.
MPs voted against a motion tabled by Labour that would have prevented the next Prime Minister from forcing a no-deal Brexit through by 309 votes to 298.
Since leaving the EU on the October 31 deadline is the default legal position, it is understood that the next Prime Minister may be able to allow the UK to leave without a deal by simply doing nothing – in effect blocking MPs from having any say.
But if last night’s motion had passed, it would have allowed MPs to table legislation to ensure the UK didn’t leave the EU on the October 31 deadline without a deal.
Labour MP and shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer vowed that the party would continue to explore every avenue at its disposal to stop a no-deal Brexit, which many fear will cause widespread economic disruption.
“There will be other procedural mechanisms we can use,” he said. “We are already looking at what those other opportunities will be.”
Labour tabled the motion last night amid a contentious Tory leadership contest. The frontrunner Boris Johnson has said that the UK must leave the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, prompting many Tory rivals to follow suit.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey slammed Tory MPs for voting down a motion that would have protected the UK from crashing out the EU.
“Those Tory MPs hell bent on using Brexit as a virility test, need to think beyond Boris Johnson’s irresponsible pitch for leader and fast,” he said. “By preventing moves to make it tougher to shove our economy off the cliff, they are plunging this country into grave no-deal uncertainty.
“UK manufacturing is in crisis,” McCluskey added. “Thousands have lost their jobs in the past few weeks alone because of Tory Brexit chaos and uncertainty. We urgently needed politicians to show that they know what a disaster no deal is for anyone other than the super-rich. Too many of them failed to do so and that is a disgrace.
“Labour’s correct efforts to rule out a no deal scenario in order to give some stability to the economy should have been supported by every decent minded MP today. As it is we have just got more chaos and confusion with the Conservatives. These are very worrying times indeed for working people.”