Scotland’s most senior Labour MP has warned it would be a “betrayal” for the party to go into a snap election on a platform of continuing with Brexit, after Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime Minister had “lost the right to govern”.
Ian Murray said Labour had to offer an alternative to the government’s Brexit policy if a general election is called.
Senior Labour figures have hinted that the party could go into an election with a manifesto commitment to hold a second Brexit referendum, and Mr Corbyn confirmed on Thursday that he would seek to delay Brexit by extending Article 50 if he was Prime Minister.
He dismissed the Government’s offer to consider new safeguards for workers as part of the Brexit package, backing a trade union assessment that “it simply doesn’t guarantee the protections that we are seeking”.
Mr Corbyn confirmed that Labour would go into any early election on a platform of opening new negotiations with Brussels on a Brexit deal involving a customs union, single market relationship and a guarantee to keep pace with EU rights and standards.
And he said that “time” would be needed to complete these talks.
Speaking to party supporters in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, Mr Corbyn said a general election was the most “practical” and “democratic” way to “break the deadlock” in Parliament over Brexit.
He said: “If the Government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity.
“A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all. It has lost its mandate so must go to the country to seek another.”
And he added: “So I say to Theresa May: if you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide.
“If not, Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the Government at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success.”
In a message apparently directed at Conservative rebels, Mr Corbyn urged MPs from across the Commons to join Labour in voting for an early poll to “break the deadlock”.
“Clearly, Labour does not have enough MPs in parliament to win a confidence vote on its own,” he said.
“So members across the House should vote with us to break the deadlock.
“This paralysis cannot continue. Uncertainty is putting people’s jobs and livelihoods at risk.”
The Labour leader said he would “keep all options on the table” if a general election can’t be secured, “but an election must be the priority”.
Mr Murray said: “Jeremy is right that Article 50 will need to be extended if we somehow manage to secure a General Election.
“But it would be a betrayal of our voters if we went into such an election vowing to continue with Brexit, and we would certainly pay the price at the ballot box.”
The Edinburgh South MP, who is campaigning for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ on the terms of Brexit, added: “Any type of Brexit will harm workers and the communities we represent, while making people poorer.
“If, as is likely, an attempt to hold a General Election fails, it is incumbent on the Labour leadership to immediately throw its support behind a people’s vote and campaign to remain in the EU.”