London: Jeremy Corbyn has called for the House of Commons to be recalled early from its Christmas break next week to allow MPs to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Parliament is not due to reconvene until January 6, with the postponed vote on the prime minister’s deal expected to take place in the week after that.
In an interview with the I newspaper, Corbyn suggested May should bring MPs back early.
“Well, it is in her hands to recall parliament. I want us to have a vote as soon as possible, that’s what I’ve been saying for the past two weeks, and if that means recalling parliament to have the vote let’s have it,” he said.
He accused May of a “completely cynical manoeuvre” to “run down the clock and offer MPs the choice of the devil or the deep blue sea”.
Before parliament’s Christmas recess, Corbyn did not join those MPs, including the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Conservative Justine Greening, calling for recess to be cancelled or curtailed so the vote could go ahead.
And he has continued to resist intense pressure from Labour activists to shift the party’s position towards backing a second Brexit referendum.
Corbyn sparked a backlash earlier this month by restating in a Guardian interview the party’s position to seek to go back to Brussels and renegotiate a better Brexit deal, rather than try to overturn the result of the 2016 referendum.
If MPs reject the deal, there are seven possible paths the country could go down next.
May brings it back to MPs Perhaps with minor tweaks after a dash to Brussels. MPs knuckle under and vote it through.
May resigns immediately It is hard to imagine her surviving for long. After a rapid leadership contest, a different leader could appeal to a majority in parliament, perhaps by offering a softer deal.
Tory backbenchers depose her Jacob Rees-Mogg gets his way and there is a no-confidence vote. A new leader then tries to assemble a majority behind a tweaked deal.
May calls a general election May could choose to take the ultimate gamble and hope that voters would back her deal, over the heads of squabbling MPs.
Labour tries to force an election The opposition tables a vote of no confidence. If May lost, the opposition (or a new Conservative leader) would have two weeks to form an alternative government that could win a second confidence vote. If they were unable to do so, a general election would be triggered.
A second referendum gathers support This is most likely if Labour makes a last-ditch decision to back it.
No deal The EU (Withdrawal) Act specifies 29 March 2019 as Brexit day. Amber Rudd has said she believes parliament would stop a no deal, but it is not clear how it would do so.
Separately, the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who has seemed more sympathetic to a second referendum than his longtime collaborator, told the Financial Times he did not favour “indicative votes” to unblock the deadlock in parliament.
Some members of May’s cabinet, including the education secretary, Damian Hinds, have suggested MPs could be presented with a series of propositions — such as a Norway-style deal and a second referendum — in a bid to whittle down the options.
Downing Street is not keen on the proposal, but has not rejected the idea outright, as a way of trying to break the logjam if May’s deal is rejected by MPs next month.
However, the idea appears unlikely to win the backing of Labour. The shadow chancellor told the FT: “The idea of indicative votes is just to run the clock down even further towards March 29. People aren’t that gullible. They’ve seen through that.”
MPs will return to Westminster braced for a momentous three months and with no clear idea of what will happen if May’s deal is rejected.
The Democratic Unionist party is awaiting word from the prime minister about whether she has secured the fresh reassurances on the Irish border its MPs say they need to support the withdrawal agreement.
Downing Street hopes if they can be won over, enough Brexit-backing Conservatives might follow to help her win a majority in the Commons; but the parliamentary arithmetic looked very bleak before Christmas.