May will not let UK crash out of EU if MPs reject deal, Starmer says

Theresa May will not be able to resist pressure to go back to the negotiating table if parliament rejects her Brexit deal with the EU, Labour’s Keir Starmer has argued.

The shadow Brexit secretary dismissed the government’s claims that MPs would only be offered a vote on the deal on a “take it or leave it” basis, meaning they could either accept the terms struck by May or proceed to Brexit without a deal at all.

“The idea the prime minister would seriously say in 2019: ‘Well, rather than go back and see if I can improve and satisfy parliament I will simply crash out’ that would be a reckless act,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Starmer said Labour had secured some important concessions from the government as MPs prepared to vote the Brexit bill through the House of Commons at its final stage on Wednesday.

It is likely to pass but about a fifth of Labour MPs will defy the party whip to vote against.

All eyes will be on shadow cabinet ministers such as Clive Lewis and Diane Abbott, who are known to be uncomfortable with triggering article 50 at the final stage but would need to vote in favour to remain on the frontbench.

So far, Labour’s attempts to amend the bill have failed but there is a final potential for rebellion on Wednesday over the issue of whether the government should unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.

Labour will again lead efforts to secure concessions but Starmer declared the party was largely…


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