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21 June 2018

For Labour’s Remainer MPs, yesterday’s vote sparks fears of a “no deal” Brexit

A sub-plot of the failed meaningful vote amendement was that it proved that Labour are only ever going to be veto players on Brexit votes.

By Stephen Bush

Everything’s coming up Theresa May? The Prime Minister won a decisive victory yesterday after pro-European Conservatives stepped back from the brink. (Again.) In the end, just six Tories went against the whip and the meaningful vote amendment failed. Even the amendment’s author, Dominic Grieve, ended up voting against the measure.

Self-described Tory rebels think they’ve won, though. The government has conceded that when the deal comes to parliament, any motion before the House will be amendable, meaning that May can’t bounce dissidents into line by putting a “my way or the cliff-edge” proposition before MPs.

Are they right? Not according to their pro-European Labour counterparts. They were in a despondent mood last night. The other sub-plot of yesterday’s vote was that after the Labour leadership strained every sinew to bring its pro-Leave MPs into line, they still lost four MPs the other way and a handful of others through deliberate abstention. It illustrates the problem I wrote about yesterday: Labour are only ever going to be veto players on Brexit votes, as the one thing that the parliamentary Labour party will be able to unite on is that May’s deal isn’t good enough.

That’s why several of Labour’s pro-Europeans are now deeply worried that leaving the European Union without a deal is very much back on the table.

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