Labour MPs rebel against leadership to support Brexit deal

PUBLISHED: 18:46 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:46 20 December 2019

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the Brexit debate in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during the Brexit debate in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons/PA Wire.

Six Labour MPs have defied the party leadership to rebel in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

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Leader Jeremy Corbyn had outlined his party's opposition to Boris Johnson's "terrible" Brexit deal, despite claiming they had recognised the "clear message" from voters at the election.

But Sarah Champion, Rosie Cooper, Jon Cruddas, Emma Lewell-Buck, Grahame Morris, and Toby Perkins supported the bill at second reading, helping it clear its first Commons hurdle.

Lewell-Buck spoke during the debate and explained she did not want to "just oppose for opposition's sake".

She previously voted for the second reading in Octobe but rejected the government's bid to push it through parliament in just two days.

However, she said she now recognised the government's "overwhelming mandate" and wanted to work to "build consensus".

Her constituency voted 62% to Leave in the 2016 EU referendum and her vote share decreased by 16% in the 2019 election.

Lewell-Buck told the Commons: "I will vote for it again today. As for the programme motion it is short, last time we tried to force the government to offer more time, we ended up in the worst General Election in my memory.

"And now, as much as I am utterly heartbroken by it, the party opposite has an overwhelming mandate they did not have the last time we held this debate.

"I will vote for the programme motion as well and put my energy into making the case for changes in committee stages.

"I don't want to just oppose for opposition's sake. We need to build consensus and stop the combative nature of this debate.

"It has served no-one and the last three years have proven that."

She added: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that I can't vote with my party today, but I will always put my constituents before everything else.

"Because the day I don't is the day I no longer deserve the honour of being their voice in this place."

After voting for the bill at second reading, Lewell-Buck also supported the government's plan to push through the remaining stages of the Bill in three days in the new year.

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