LONDON: Serious doubts have been raised over the success of ongoing cross-party talks on Brexit after Labour’s chief negotiator on Monday insisted that any deal is unlikely to be passed on the House of Commons without another referendum, which is opposed by the ruling dispensation.
Called a ‘confirmatory referendum’, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said unless it is part of any consensus reached in the cross-party talks, at least 150 of his party MPs would vote against it. If no new offer is on the table, Labour would call off the talks, he added.
The Theresa May government has been exploring reaching a consensus position with Labour after the withdrawal agreement was voted down thrice in the House of Commons by many Conservative rebels as well as opposition MPs.
There are also demands within the Conservative party that May should call off the talks since, according to the increasingly influential view, they are destined to fail. Doubts have also crept in over the fate of any deal when May has made clear her intentions to resign later in the year.
Starmer told The Guardian: “A significant number of Labour MPs, probably 120 if not 150, would not back a deal if it hasn’t got a confirmatory vote. If the point of the exercise is to get a sustainable majority, over several weeks or months of delivering on the implementation, you can’t leave a confirmatory vote out of the package.”
“I’ve made it clear that at this stage, at this 11th hour, any deal that comes through from this government ought to be subject to the lock of a confirmatory vote,” Starmer added.
Influential Conservative MPs such as Jacob Rees-Mogg believe a large number of party supporters will vote for the newly formed Brexit party in the May 23 elections to the European Parliament, when both main parties are expected to face another round of public anger after the recent local elections.
There is much ennui over Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit, at times presenting itself as a party of those wanting to remain in the European Union, but also committing itself to honour the 2016 referendum to leave the EU.
The UK was due to leave the EU on March 29, but the deadline has now been pushed to October 31.__Hindustan Times