New group of cross-party MPs campaign for a Brexit deal
- Credit: PA
A Lib Dem MP and former Tory MPs have joined forces with rebel Labour MPs to campaign for a Brexit deal.
The new group includes former Tory MPs Nick Boles and Rory Stewart, Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb. and rebel Labour MPs including Stephen Kinnock, Caroline Flint and Gloria De Piero.
But despite winning over Stewart and Boles they have so failed to convince other Tory MPs such as Philip Hammond, Dominic Grieve or Ken Clarke.
At the launch event Kevin Barron MP, a Labour MP, said the party's march towards Remain was "deeply damaging and ill-thought-through", and insisted his party should honour the 2017 manifesto commitment to honour the referendum result.
They have called for Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be re-considered after it was pulled before the Commons to vote on it due to her resignation.
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The original deal had been rejected three times by MPs, but they hoped the extra amendments attached by May would get it over the line.
It incorporated ten further points agreed through talks between May and MPs, including guarantees of MP approval on future treaties with the EU, protections for workers' rights, continuation of environmental commitments and "will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible" outside the single market.
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Speaking at a press conference, Kinnock said this was "not about reproducing a carbon copy" of the deal which failed in three meaningful votes.
He said the group would back Boris Johnson in bringing a deal before parliament by October 14.
He added: "We hope that by 14 October at the latest, if not before, this prime minister will be ready to bring a deal to parliament, and MPs for a Deal wish him well in doing that and will be backing that and supporting that, because it is the only way to take the country forward."
Former Tory MP Boles said: "The government thinks that by proroguing parliament it's shut us down - it has not shut us down.
"There is a deal there that we can use as a basis, there are also some other things that have shifted."
Caroline Flint said there was a "sizeable voice building across the House" to secure a deal before 31 October, estimating about 50 Labour MPs were interested. She added that 26 Labour MPs wrote to party leader Jeremy Corbyn when Theresa May stood down as PM, backing a deal before October 31.
She said: "There has to be a willingness in all this for parties to work together if there is to be an extension for any reason, and it might be that we agree a deal and then legislation has to be sorted out after that."
Lib Dem Norman Lamb said: "I believe fundamentally in the importance of compromise and in trying to find common ground.
"There is a silent majority of people in this country who want to move on from this nightmare, who recognise that what's going on is massively damaging to our country, to our international reputation, to our economy."
The group added in a statement: "Even at the eleventh hour it's not too late to agree a deal to ensure an orderly exit from the European Union."