Socialist MEPs' leader: MPs who defied Corbyn on Brexit were 'correct'

The leader of the socialist group in the European parliament has criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to whip his MPs to support the article 50 bill, lamenting that the Labour leader is not “more European”.

Ahead of a meeting next week with Corbyn in London, Gianni Pittella, who leads the second largest group in the European parliament, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, said he would have fought harder against UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

A fifth of Labour MPs voted against legislation in the Commons granting Theresa May the power to trigger the UK’s exit from the European Union – defying Corbyn’s three-line whip.

A total of 47 Labour MPs voted against the Brexit bill, joining 50 SNP MPs and seven Liberal Democrats. One Conservative MP, Ken Clarke, joined them in the division lobbies. The bill is now set to be scrutinised, amended and voted upon in the House of Lords.

The Labour leader was widely mocked when, after supporting the passing of the article 50 bill in the Commons, he tweeted: “The real fight starts here.”

Pittella said he believed Corbyn was a “nice person” and a “visionary leader” whose ideas could connect with the working class base. But the Italian MEP, who has led the socialists in the European parliament since 2014, said he had “hoped that the proposal” from some senior Labour figures that the party vote against the article 50 bill would be accepted. Of Corbyn, he added: “I think if he is more European,…

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