In an interview with The Sunday Times, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer warned Labour will try to stop Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement by using a Commons amendment to require Mrs May to hold another ‘meaningful vote’ by February 26. The move is an attempt to prevent the Prime Minister from delaying the vital vote on her deal until after the European Council summit on March 21 – just eight days before Brexit day. If Mrs May is unable to strike a deal with the EU for changes to be made to the Withdrawal Agreement – particularly the Irish backstop – by Wednesday, she will ask for another two weeks to alter this as pro-Remain MPs prepare to remove the option of a no-deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister has insisted there will be another meaningful vote over the coming weeks but Labour will try to bring that forward significantly.
Sir Keir accused Theresa May of “pretending to make progress” but believes she will return to Parliament after the European Council summit and offer MPs a “binary choose” – her deal or no deal at all.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary said: “We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock, and that’s what we want to do this week.
“We shouldn’t be put in a position where the clock is run down and the Prime Minister says it’s either my deal or even worse. That isn’t right in terms of the respect for Parliament.”
Sir Keir attacked Mrs May’s approach in Brexit negotiations so far, describing them as “reckless” and “blinkered”
He also blamed her “tunnel vision” for the crushing defeat she suffered in the Commons last month when her Brexit deal was defeated by a record 230 votes.
Sir Keir said: “It’s this blinkered approach that’s got us to where we are, with her never wanting to see where the real majority is in Parliament.”
Last week, Jeremy Corbyn wrote to thew Prime Minister, outlining five demands for the opposition party to give its support to the government to achieve a “sensible” Brexit.
The demands include a permanent customs union, which the Labour leader claims will avoid a hard border, and closer alignment with the EU single market.
Sir Keir defended this approach after the move led to a backlash from pro-EU Labour MPs who threatened to quit in protest.
He said: “This is the only combination I genuinely believe can deliver no hard border in Northern Ireland.
“When you go through something like Brexit, it is very important that you keep the opposition strong and united,” he said.
“We have to keep it together, because in the end, any chance of effective opposition goes if an opposition party starts to lose members from their team.”
The plan from Labour comes as Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss refused to rule out quitting if Mrs May did accept the demand for a customs union.
She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I appreciate Jeremy Corbyn has come to the table but the reality is what he is proposing does not deliver on what we want as a country.”
Ms Truss also rejected calls for Brexit to be delayed beyond March 29 to allow for more time in negotiations, warning it would be a “very bad idea”.
The Treasury Chief Secretary said: “As the deadline approaches, minds get focused and a deal gets done.
“I think by extending the deadline that doesn’t create any new information, all that does is delay things and I think that would be a very bad idea.”