Senior Labour MP Virendra Sharma and other party lawmakers have declared they will vote against the British government’s Brexit bill, throwing the party into turmoil.
The bill will authorise Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the European Union.
Opposition to the bill comes particularly from those MPs whose constituencies voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in last year’s referendum. Two ministers in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet have also resigned, but the party supports the bill.
Sharma, whose constituency of Ealing Southall includes a large population of Indian origin, said: “I will not vote for a Brexit blank cheque. I consider continued cooperation with the ‘European Medicines Agency’, the ‘European Aviation Safety Agency’ and the ‘European Police Office’ (Europol) essential to British prosperity and security.”
He added, “I cannot in good conscience vote to trigger Article 50 while it will threaten people’s jobs, wages and pensions. Access to the Single Market and a legal commitment to ensure the labour rights, health and safety protections, consumer rights, and environmental standards we currently enjoy are all key to my political beliefs.
“If we cannot get clarity on our relationship with crucial international institutions then I will not vote to trigger Article 50 without a real plan for the future.”