Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out no-deal if a deal cannot be passed on Tuesday’s crunch vote.
When speaking to ITV’s Peston on when it will become critical for party policy to move to supporting a People’s Vote, the shadow Brexit secretary said: “There isn’t much time left. Next Tuesday there is a whole raft of amendments, I think the most important thing to happen next Tuesday for parliament if it can is to effectively remove no-deal as a possible outcome and to do that from one of the amendments – either by Yvette Cooper’s or another amendment.”
In this scenario, Mr Starmer accepts that extending Article 50 and delaying Brexit could be a viable option.
“It’s relatively simple to extend until 1 July because of the European elections and incoming MEPs do not take up their functions until 2 July. It is more difficult and legally complicated to do it for longer than that”, he said.
“As to how long the extension should be, there is room for discussion and argument. I don’t think people are fixated by the date – what people are saying is they recognise the difficulties beyond 1 July.”
However, the extension of Article 50 is unacceptable to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
When asked by Peston if leaving on the 29th March with no deal would be the “second best option”, he said: “I am clear that I’m still working for my first best option, which is to work for a deal.”
Pressed on why the government was keeping no deal on the table, he said: “No deal is the law, it’s what happens in a couple of months’ time if we don’t get a deal.”
On the worldwide impact of Brexit, he said: “I know that in the UK this is an absolutely critical issue, but there are bigger issues going on in the world. You know, making sure antibiotics work otherwise millions of people will die if we get this wrong. There are bigger issues that are being debated and Britain has a strong voice in those other issues, that’s the point I was making. We of course are totally focused on this Brexit issue in British politics, I wish we would also be debating some of these other big things that people care about, and that’s the experience that I’ve had, when I’ve been here talking to people from around the world.”
While former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is willing to take the risk of a second referendum rather than pushing on with Mrs May’s Brexit deal.
He told Peston: “This is about our independence, it’s about our ability to become competitive, it’s about our ability to recognise we are living in a global economy in which there is a massive transfer of power from the West to the East and how are we best fixed for the next two decades to deal with it. Personally my view at the moment is better to vote down this dreadful deal and take the risk of a second referendum.”
Asked about the Prime Minister’s view that no Brexit would undermine social cohesion and potentially cause riots on the streets, Mr Farage took a more optimistic view: “We’re not French, you know we’re just not French... the French love to have a good riot, and is there considerable anger out there, would we see some people behaving very badly, possibly yes.
"But I think provided, provided those millions who are angry with the Brexit betrayal, if that comes, if they have got a political vehicle to get behind, they won’t need to do that.”