LABOUR will vote against Brexit legislation this week if government ministers fail to address the long-standing issues that it has raised.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer vowed yesterday that the party’s MPs would vote to stop handing ministers a “blank cheque to pass powers” if Labour’s concerns were not considered.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is set to be debated on Thursday after MPs return to Westminster following their summer break, gives ministers “very wide powers,” he explained on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.
Asked whether Labour would definitely vote against the legislation if Brexit Secretary David Davis rejected its concerns, Mr Starmer said: “I flagged these points up at the beginning of summer and said: ‘If you don’t address them, we will be voting against it’.”
He added: “While we accept the result of the referendum, we are not giving a blank cheque to the government to do it in whichever way it wants because it is not in the public interest.”
Earlier this year, Mr Starmer set out requirements that the government must meet for Labour to vote in favour of the Bill.
They comprise ensuring that Britain enjoys a strong future partnership with the EU; retaining the benefits of the single market and customs union; preventing a “race to the bottom” and a decline in living standards; strengthening national security; delivering for all British regions; and ensuring “fair management” of migration.
Mr Starmer also told the programme that it was important to avoid a “cliff-edge” Brexit and that more time was needed to resolve disagreements relating to Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Mr Davis accused Brussels and its chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier of having a “silly” approach to the withdrawal talks.
He said the EU was trying to put pressure on Britain over the bloc’s demands for a so-called divorce fee. After the latest round of talks ended, there was an awkward press conference, at which Mr Barnier complained of a lack of trust and an absence of “decisive” progress on key issues.
Mr Davis’s comments came as Prime Minister Theresa May sought to prevent a Tory rebellion in the fi rst Commons vote on the legislation by warning that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would be on his way to Number 10 if they sought to water down the Bill.