Labour’s Brexit amendment set to divide party

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MPs will meet in Westminster today to discuss amendments to Article 50

The on-going Brexit saga is set to take another turn in Westminster later on today.

Amendments to article 50, which triggers Britain’s exit from the European Union, will be pushed forward by the pro-remain Labour party in parliament.

Shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry has proposed the amendments in order for the UK to get the “best deal” in a Brexit society. “We wanted to stay in the European Union, and we were pretty united around that,” said Thornberry. “But we lost. The country decided that we should leave the European Union. It was a very serious vote.”

“The question is how do we best fight for that? In our view we have to do as instructed and vote to leave the European Union, but actually the fight begins now.”

The Labour party are seemingly in a midst of disarray as leader Jeremy Corbyn proposed a three-line party whip ordering the party to support article 50, with a number of Labour MP’s such as shadow business secretary Clive Lewis, planning to rebel against the party line during Brexit negotiations.

Thornberry however will not defy the party whip and will tow the Labour party line in agreeing to Brexit, albeit with amendments put forward today.

It is unlikely that the amendments will pass, as around 90 MP’s will oppose the amendment, but said that the amended article 50 had to go through the House of Commons.

The Scottish National party are set to oppose article 50 and will vote against Labour’s amendments later today. The SNP have criticised the government for failing to properly negotiate with the devolved governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland, both countries that voted to remain in the EU.

SNP MP Stephen Gethins argued strongly that Brexit would have a profound impact on Scotland’s economy. “Passing this bill and turning your back on our amendment would turn its back on the progress made and disrespect the devolution settlement,” according to Gethins. “I’d urge members to vote for our amendment, otherwise this is a backward and damaging step and it is an act of constitutional and economic sabotage.”

The Brexit debate has already begun to divide the Labour party. Those who voted remain have either gone with the new Labour mandate of accepting Brexit, or vow to defy the party whip.While Labour’s amendments are likely to be opposed in Westminster, there is a slight chance they will be passed and in turn will halt the governments exit from the EU. Brexit was widely rejected by mainstream media, only for the public to say otherwise in the polls.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman, Sir Keir Starmer, said two thirds of Labour MPs represented constituencies that voted to leave the EU, and one third where people voted to stay in.
“This is obviously a difficult decision,” he said.

“I wish the result had gone the other way. I campaigned passionately for that. But as democrats our party has to accept that result and it follows that the prime minister should not be blocked from starting the article 50 negotiations.”

UPDATE: Ian Murray, Scottish Labour’s only Member of Parliament has just confirmed that he will vote against Article 50, defying Labour’s amendment. In a statement on BBC Scotland, Murray he would be “standing up for [his constituency] in the Commons by voting against the triggering of Article 50”. The Edinburgh South MP stated he represented the constituency where 78% of constituents voted to remain in the EU and was one of the highest “remain” constituencies in the UK.

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