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PM ‘must step aside if she can’t deliver a Brexit for workers’

THERESA MAY must step aside if she cannot negotiate a Brexit deal that helps working people, Labour conference heard today.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache publicly intervened to say the Prime Minister should call a general election on the deal she cooks up with Brussels.

"If May is so confident in achieving a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from then she should have nothing to fear from putting that to the test," he declared.

Ms May was humiliated by EU member state leaders in Salzburg this month as they lined up to pour scorn on her Chequers compromise, which would leave Britain subject to EU rules on industry and agriculture but give exemptions for the bloated financial sector.

Mr Roache spoke after shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer warned Labour was likely to vote down any withdrawal agreement May reaches with the EU, saying it was likely to fall short of his "six tests."

These include the deal "delivering" for all Britain's nations and regions, preventing a race to the bottom on workers' rights and maintaining the "exact same benefits" Britain supposedly derives from membership of the single market and customs union.

Mr Starmer broke ranks with shadow chancellor John McDonnell by saying a so-called "people's vote" on the deal should include the option of remaining in the EU.

Mr McDonnell and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have said any vote should be on the deal only as the decision to leave taken by voters in 2016 should be respected, though Mr Starmer claimed the leadership were united on the issue and Mr Corbyn endorsed the inclusion of a Remain option last night.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said that, "despite what Keir said earlier," any vote should still be on the exit terms alone, as a rerun of 2016 would "reopen" the wounds of the referendum campaign rather than heal them.

And Labour Leave general secretary Brendan Chilton said that, if Labour became "the party of Remain," it would "damage the Labour brand and alienate supporters."

Doug Nicholls of Trade Unionists Against the EU said: "Keir Starmer is the shadow minister for exiting the European Union. He doesn't seem to have read his job title."

Mr Nicholls accused him of having "no plausible or specific negotiating position for a leave deal," saying the six tests were too vague to be of any use.

Requirements like delivering for all of Britain or preventing a race to the bottom would, if applied to EU membership as it stands, mean we "would have to leave the EU immediately.

"Keeping all options open sounds like clever talk but in fact it is playing politics in the Westminster bubble," he charged, saying Mr Starmer was simply "a Remainer manoeuvring for Remain."

Labour voted yesterday on a motion that keeps a second referendum on the table without binding the leadership to holding one.

Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey, a prominent Eurosceptic, told a fringe meeting on Monday night she was “very pleased we've got this wonderful Labour Party fudge,” saying the composite motion would not make the party's position more pro-Brussels.

She said opposition to Brexit had been hijacked by Labour rightwingers, “using it as an excuse to get at Jeremy.”

Ms Hoey argued that there was no enthusiasm among the public for overturning the referendum result, adding: “I'm quite optimistic now that we will get a proper Brexit.”

Former Labour MP Austin Mitchell added: “We have to beware of Blairites bearing gifts.”


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