Jeremy Corbyn urges Theresa May to cut Christmas break short for vote on Brexit deal

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Jeremy Corbyn has urged the Prime Minister to cut the Christmas recess short and recall Parliament so MPs can vote on the Brexit deal.

The Labour leader said he wanted to have a vote “as soon as possible”, and accused Theresa May of trying to “run down the clock” and offer MPs a choice between “the devil or the deep blue sea”.

In an interview with the Independent, Mr Corbyn reportedly refused to be drawn on whether Labour would seek to extend Article 50 to keep the UK in the EU for longer, and said: “Lots of things are possible, the EU has longform on reopening and extending negotiations, but let’s not jump too many hoops when we haven’t arrived at them.”

The Independent front page. Credit: Independent/PA

MPs are due to return to the Commons on January 7 after a two-week Christmas break, and will begin a new debate on Mrs May’s deal on January 9 – with a vote expected to take place the following week.

Mr Corbyn said it was in Mrs May’s hands whether she should recall Parliament a week early, on January 2.

“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 told the paper.

“But it looks to me the Government has once again reneged on that and tried to put it back another week.

“We need to have that vote so a decision of parliament can be made. What I suspect is that it’s a completely cynical manoeuvre to run down the clock and offer MPs the choice of the devil or the deep blue sea.”

Corbyn accused May of offering MPs "the choice of the devil or the deep blue sea". Credit: PA

A Downing Street source labelled Mr Corbyn’s call a “silly demand”, and said: “Following debate in the Commons, in the week commencing 14 January MPs will vote on the Brexit deal.

“Instead of making silly demands, Jeremy Corbyn should be honest with voters that he has no alternative plan, and only intends to frustrate Brexit — ultimately betraying the referendum result.”

His comments came as John McDonnell dismissed the idea of an indicative vote to find which Brexit options MPs would be prepared to support if the Prime Minister’s deal is rejected.

The shadow chancellor told the Financial Times such a move would “run the clock down even further towards March 29”, when Britain is due to leave the EU.

Elsewhere, Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner and a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party, warned that the remaining EU member states would have to stump up if Britain does not pay the £39 billion divorce bill.

Asked what impact a no deal Brexit would have on the EU budget, he told the German newspaper Westfalische Rundschau: “It depends on whether, following a disorderly Brexit, the British would be prepared to fulfill their rights and obligations as contributors by the end of the financial year 2019. If this is not the case, next year a medium three-digit million amount will be added to Germany.”

But he said it was not “entirely unlikely” that MPs would vote for Mrs May’s deal next month.