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“Vote for Theresa May’s deal, or you will end up with a soft Brexit.” Those weren’t quite the words that Philip Hammond, the chancellor, used in his interview on the Today programme this morning, but undoubtedly that was his message.
May has promised MPs a new vote by Tuesday on her deal. If it gets defeated again, there will be a vote on Wednesday on a no-deal Brexit and, if that option gets rejected, there will be a vote on Thursday on extending article 50. Hammond would not say how the government would ask its MPs to vote on the no-deal motion, assuming May’s deal falls again, but no one expects the government to whips its MPs to vote in favour and Hammond said he had a “high degree of confidence” that the Commons would reject no deal.
What I would say is this: you are not raising an issue that isn’t widely known and understood, that the Labour party has been talking for a long time about the idea of a customs union grafted onto the PM’s deal.
Those of my colleagues who feel very strongly against that proposal need to think very, very hard about the implications of voting against the prime minister’s deal next Tuesday, because we will then be in unknown territory where a consensus will have to be forged across the House of Commons, and that will inevitably mean compromises being made.