Starmer denies Labour would abstain on Withdrawal Agreement bill

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer and Labour Leader Jeremy Corby

Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photograph: PA Wire. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has denied that Labour have considered abstaining on Theresa May's Brexit bill - telling the House of Commons it will vote it down.

Sir Keir warned Labour opposes passing key legislation designed to implement the Withdrawal Agreement if no Brexit deal has been agreed.

Sir Keir said that Brexit secretary Steve Barclary told MPs in February that it was key to approve a Brexit deal ahead of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, and asked if a fourth meaningful vote would be held before the legislation is introduced next month.

Barclay noted talks with Labour are ongoing over the Brexit deal and reiterated MPs will have a chance to vote on the legislation after the Whitsun recess.

Sir Keir replied: "I'd have thought it was patently clear that if the prime minister's deal is put for a fourth time, if it's allowed, it will fail just as it has failed three times already.

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"But I want to make it clear that Labour opposes the idea of passing the Withdrawal Agreement Bill without an agreed deal - that would put the cart before the horse, and Labour will vote against at second reading on that basis.

"How on Earth does the Secretary of State think that a Bill to implement a deal that isn't before the House can pass in two weeks' time, or is this about keeping the prime minister in office for another week to give her a lifeline for today's meeting of the 1922 Committee?"

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A Labour spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn refused to rule out six times abstaining on the bill.

The spokesman told journalists: "We voted to trigger Article 50, we respect the result of the referendum."

They added: "We're not in the business of getting into a car without knowing where it's going."

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