‘A complete shambles’: Ilford MPs call for a People’s Vote as prime minister Theresa May calls off vote on Brexit deal

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes. Photos: Andrea Cole / Ken Mears

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes. Photos: Andrea Cole / Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Ilford’s Labour MPs have called for a second referendum to be held on Brexit after prime minister Theresa May called off a Parliamentary vote on her deal.

Conservative leader Theresa May called off the vote on her Brexit deal on Monday, December 10, in the face of what had been expected to be a significant defeat at the hands of rebel MPs, many within her own party.

A large number them have concerns about the “backstop”, a legally-binding proposal for a customs arrangement with the EU which would come into force if no deal could be reached that would prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes was one of 47 Labour MPs to vote against triggering Article 50 – the legislation that kicked off the legal process for exiting the EU – back in February 2017, and has been a vocal critic of the Brexit process since.

The Labour MP told the Recorder that a People’s Vote was the necessary next step now that “the delusional fantasy” of a Brexit deal that would have seen the UK “cherry-pick” the terms of its exit had been dispelled, and branded Theresa May’s handling of the issue “a complete shambles”.

“I have served in Parliament for 26 and a half years, including during the government of John Major,” said the veteran MP.

“That was dysfunctional, but it was nothing compared to the extreme incompetence we have seen from this government during Brexit negotiations.

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“I firmly believe that not only a change of leadership is necessary – which would require a vote of no confidence in the prime minister – but also a complete change in government policy, and I think the only way to be certain of that is to hold a people’s vote, now that the British public knows how complicated and how bad for the country Brexit will be.

“The truth is that no one knows what is going to happen now – should a vote of no confidence be passed later this week then Parliamentary rules state a new government would need to be formed within 14 days.

“That would take us to Boxing Day. I’ve had to cancel all my plans for the next two weeks because I have no idea where I’m going to need to be.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting also backed calls for a People’s Vote to be held in the wake of Theresa May’s decision to postpone the House of Commons’ meaningful vote on her Brexit Deal.

He said: “The prime minister has plunged the UK into a deep political crisis.

“We expected to vote on her deal tomorrow and she should honour her commitment.

“The government clearly lacks support in Parliament and in the country.

“It is time for the prime minister to let the people decide on the way forward through a People’s Vote.”

To make matters more complicated, the European Court of Justice ruled on Monday, December 10, that Britain can unilaterally halt the Brexit process by revoking the Article 50 letter declaring its intention to leave the EU.

Confirming to the House of Commons that any meaningful vote on her Brexit deal was being deferred, but not giving any concrete details on when the vote will now be held, Mrs May said she would be meeting with other European leaders to try and solve problems around the Northern Ireland backstop.

The prime minister told gathered MPs: “I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this house requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people.”

But a spokeswoman for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker poured cold water on hopes of a renegotiation.

In a press briefing in Brussels, Mina Andreeva said: “As President Juncker said, this deal is the best and only deal possible.

“We will not renegotiate - our position has therefore not changed and as far as we are concerned the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on March 29 2019.”

Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith has been contacted for comment.