Joseph Afrane, U.K. opposition Labour Party supporter, wears badges display his support for Brexit near the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Labour to Push for No-Deal Brexit Vote This Week, McDonnell Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K.’s main opposition Labour Party will seek to force a parliamentary vote this week that could take a no-deal Brexit off the table, regardless of whether the government waters down or even pulls a vote on the divorce agreement, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s team is still weighing options for the so-called meaningful vote on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter, and could put forward an aspirational motion setting out a deal Parliament would be prepared to support rather than risk defeat on the deal itself.

That’s angered Remain and soft-Brexit supporting members of Parliament, because two weeks ago she staved off a rebellion from her own ministers by promising them votes to take a no-deal Brexit off the table. The U.K. is due to leave the European Union on March 29.

McDonnell said in an interview on Monday Parliament would take control of the process whatever decision May takes this week, meaning a no-deal exit remains an unlikely outcome.

“This week is about trying to get a vote on May’s deal out the way -- but that seems to have gone,” he said. “We’ll be trying to force her then to at least have a vote on no deal. So if we can get that off the table that would be an achievement -- but we’ll see. It’s like shifting sands at the moment.”

Contempt

He said members of Parliament could seek to hold May in contempt if she fails to deliver the vote, and Labour is also considering using a “humble address” -- the same device it used last year to get Brexit economic-impact studies released -- to retrieve the latest information on the negotiations.

While Labour was always considering holding another no-confidence vote in the government, that would only be triggered when the party thought it could win it, he said.

Meanwhile, Labour is still looking to back an amendment put forward by its lawmakers Phil Wilson and Peter Kyle as the mechanism to deliver a second referendum. The pair are redrafting it so that it doesn’t specifically refer to May’s deal, according to McDonnell, with the idea that if Parliament does agree a deal, it’s then put to the public for confirmation.

That won’t happen this week, McDonnell said, because the party is focused on defeating May’s divorce agreement and ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

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