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13 October 2016

Theresa May dismisses Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit ‘shambles’ claim

theresa-mayTheresa May has rejected a claim by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that she is overseeing a “shambolic Tory Brexit”.

During Prime Minister’s Questions she said she wanted “maximum possible access” for the UK to the single market after leaving the European Union.

Mr Corbyn said the government had “no answers”, but Mrs May promised to be “ambitious” in Brexit negotiations and to exert greater migration control.

MPs are now debating a Labour motion on Parliament’s role in Brexit policy.

The party is calling for “proper scrutiny” by Parliament of discussions ahead of the government starting negotiations with the EU.

The subject of Brexit dominated the first Prime Minister’s Questions since the end of the party conference season, with Mr Corbyn asking: “Is the prime minister really willing to risk a catastrophic Tory Brexit just to appease the people behind her (Conservative backbench MPs)?”

Mrs May replied: “We will negotiate the right deal for the UK. That’s what matters to everyone in the UK and that’s what we will deliver.”

She told MPs any deal would aim for “maximum possible access to the single market”, but added she was “absolutely clear that the British people” wanted “maximum control” over immigration.

The Labour leader accused the government of having “no answers” and said it should stop “running away from the looming threat” to jobs and living standards.

Ministers are facing calls to set out details on what they want Brexit to look like before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the two-year process of working out the terms of the UK leaving the EU.

Ahead of the Brexit debate Labour set out 170 questions for the government, including on trading relationships and migration rules.

Some senior politicians – including former Labour leader Ed Miliband – are demanding a full vote on the UK’s negotiating stance ahead of full discussions with the EU beginning.

But the government says it does not want to have its hands tied before talks, and some argue a vote could be used as a way of undermining the result of June’s referendum, in which voters chose by 52% to 48% to leave the EU.

Labour’s Commons motion falls short of specifically asking for a full vote on the UK’s Brexit negotiating stance. Instead, it asks for a “full and transparent” debate on the plan for leaving the organisation and for Prime Minister Theresa May “to ensure that this House is able properly to scrutinise that plan… before Article 50 is invoked”.

The government has tabled an amendment to the motion – which Labour has accepted – stating that negotiations for Brexit must be handled in a way that “respects the decision” reached in the referendum.

Labour’s decision to agree to the government amendment means there might not be a vote at the end of Wednesday’s debate.

Ever since the referendum, the Labour leadership has been criticised by pro-EU backbenchers for not doing enough to scrutinise the government’s plans for leaving the European Union.

But now the new shadow minister for Brexit, Sir Keir Starmer – along with Emily Thornberry – seems to be making up for lost time.

Although the precise number of questions is a little gimmicky, they address some issues which business leaders also want answered – for example, whether the government has decided the UK should leave the single market and if so, if it would still abide by its regulations.

And a number of Conservative MPs are likely to participate in Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Brexit – also calling for more transparency from the government.

Opening the debate on Labour’s motion, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said the terms under which Brexit could happen were “not on the ballot paper” for the referendum.

He added: “Nor did the prime minister set out her terms for Brexit before assuming office.”

But Brexit Secretary David Davis said: “We have been pretty clear on the overarching aims, not the detailed aims. We’re not even at the point that that’s possible.

“The overarching aims are these: bringing back control of laws to parliament, bringing back control over decisions of immigration to the UK, maintaining the strong security cooperation that we have with the European Union and establishing the freest possible market in goods and services with the European Union and the rest of the world.”

Source: bbc.com

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