PM leading Britain into ‘national crisis’ over Brexit, Corbyn warns

Jeremy Corbyn accused Theresa May of leading Britain into a “national crisis” over Brexit as he warned her deal has lost Cabinet support.

The Labour leader said the “cold reality” was Mrs May achieved “nothing” last week after returning to Brussels to seek further assurances over the Irish border backstop.

He also claimed Mrs May was “cynically” running down the clock on the March 29 Brexit deadline to force MPs to decide between her deal or no deal, and asked the PM to confirm if her deal has Cabinet confidence.

Mrs May faced shouts of “resign” from some Labour MPs as she updated the Commons about her trip to Brussels and insisted there is “no plot” among EU nations to keep the UK in the backstop.

She also confirmed the Withdrawal Agreement debate is expected to return in the week of January 7, with a vote the following week.

The PM was later rebuked by senior Tory MP Justine Greening for criticising colleagues for proposing alternatives to the deal, such as a second referendum.

Mr Corbyn, replying to Mrs May’s statement, told the Commons: “We face an unprecedented situation – the Prime Minister has led us into a national crisis.

“If any more evidence was needed of why we face this grave situation, the Prime Minister demonstrated it at last week’s summit.

“There were some warm words drafted and the Prime Minister even managed to negotiate those away to be replaced by words about preparing for no deal.

“The deal is unchanged and not going to change. The House must get on with the vote and move on to consider the realistic alternatives.

“There can be no logical reason for this delay except that in taking shambolic government to a new level, the Prime Minister no longer has the backing of her Cabinet.”

Mr Corbyn later demanded Mrs May answer three questions: “One, does her deal still have the confidence of the Cabinet?

“Two, is Cabinet collective responsibility still in operation?

“Three, does it remain Government policy to avoid a no-deal outcome?”

Mrs May hit back at the Labour leader, accusing his party of having “no alternative” and putting its own interest ahead of the British people.

She said: “Does the deal still have the confidence of the Cabinet? Yes.

“Does the Cabinet collective responsibility still apply? Yes.

“Does the Cabinet want to avoid no deal? Yes, the Cabinet wants to make sure we leave the European Union with a good deal, and that is this deal.

“The real indecision is the indecision at the heart of a Labour Party that has no plan and no alternative.

“And the national crisis is an opposition that is irresponsible, that puts its party interest first before the interests of the British people.”


The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford later quipped: “We thought the Prime Minister had reached rock bottom, but she’s still digging.”

Mr Blackford ended his comments by calling on Mrs May to “stop operating in isolation” and meet opposition leaders to discuss a way forward.

The PM said she was happy to meet Mr Blackford but warned they would have a “fundamental difference of opinion” on Brexit.

Former cabinet minister Ms Greening said: “At the moment we have no deal and no plan B.

“This is a constitutional crisis because this House is not being allowed to express its will on behalf of our communities, who around the country are telling us that they reject this deal – that is why MPs want to be able to vote against it.

“So can I say to the Prime Minister, it’s pointless criticising other members in this House who are coming up with other solutions – whether a second referendum, whether Canada, whether Norway – we are as a Parliament trying to find a solution through the political cul-de-sac and mess that we now find this country in.”

Ms Greening accused Mrs May of “not allowing debate” – something the PM dismissed.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds also pressed Mrs May to tell MPs “exactly and precisely” what she is asking the EU for, to deliver on the “key concerns about the legally binding, indefinite nature of the backstop with no right for this country to exit it on its own terms”.