Jeremy Corbyn dealt blow as Labour MPs defy whip over Brexit

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Jeremy Corbyn faced a hefty blow to his authority today as Labour MPs defied a three-line whip on the Government’s controversial EU Withdrawal Bill.

The Labour leader was hit by a rebellion against his order for Labour MPs to vote against the legislation which has been branded a “power grab” by ministers.

Senior backbenchers warned that opposing the legislation would be seen by many constituents, particularly those who voted Leave, as Labour seeking to torpedo Brexit.

Former minister Caroline Flint argued that defeating the bill, which will transpose EU legislation into British law, would cause “huge problems”.

She told BBC radio: “I do believe that in respecting the outcome of the referendum, in respecting what I said to my electors in the general election just a few months ago, it is important that we get on with the job of making sure we can have as smooth an exit from the EU as possible.”

The revolt against the Labour leadership was particularly among MPs in the North and Midlands whose constituencies saw a majority backing Leave. 

​Warley MP John Spellar MP, who is planning to abstain, said: “The divisions in the Tory Party are ideological. The divisions in the Labour Party are geographical.”

Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron added: “I’m inclined not to vote against the bill because of the result of the referendum.”

Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer and Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey have already spoken out against opposing the bill.

Stressing the General Election pledge not to block Brexit, Mr Stringer said; “If this bill was defeated on Labour votes, then we would not be doing what we said we would do.”

However, shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman defended the leadership’s stance and denied that it was obstructing Brexit having voted for Article 50.

She said: “The Government has chosen to engage in a huge power grab. It does not need to do that. It just needs to bring forward a sensible bill.”

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