Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East MP Defies Orders to Back Hard Brexit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North East MP Defies Orders to Back Hard Brexit

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor jonwalker121

NORTH East MP Catherine Mc-Kinnell was one of 49 rebel Labour MPs who defied orders from party leader Jeremy Corbyn and voted for a "soft" version of Brexit which includes staying in the single market.

The Labour leader ordered his MPs NOT to back proposals to stay in the single market, which allows businesses in the UK to export goods to the EU without restriction, and for EU firms to sell their products here.

And he acted swiftly to punish rebels by sacking three shadow ministers from jobs in his front bench after they went ahead and supported the proposal anyway. Another resigned before they could be sacked.

There is little Mr Corbyn can do to backbench Labour MPs such as Ms McKinnell who disobeyed him.

Mr Corbyn ordered his MPs to abstain on an amendment to the Queen's Speech, when the Government set out its plans for the next two years, proposed by rebel Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

It included plans to stay in the single market, ensure the UK would not withdraw from the EU without a deal, give Parliament a vote on the final arrangements with the EU and to stay in the Customs Union, which would ensure products can be moved between the UK and EU without long delays at borders.

The 49 Labour MPs who voted in favour of the amendment included Ms McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North.

She said after the vote: "I've always been clear that I accept the result of last year's referendum. However, I have been equally clear that I cannot support a hard Brexit which will make the North East poorer, and I believe at this stage of the negotiations we must have the option of staying in the single market and Customs Union at least on the table.

"Failure to secure the best deal possible could have a hugely damaging effect on our region's economy and therefore people's jobs and living standards. …

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