Dear Jeremy Corbyn: Tim Farron’s letter to Labour on Article 50

Read the full letter - Lib Dem leader calls for clarity on Corbyn's Brexit stance


Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has written to Jeremy Corbyn ahead of a Supreme Court ruling today, calling on the Labour leader to clarify his party’s position on triggering Article 50.

Corbyn has said Labour MPs will be asked to vote in favour, while the Lib Dems will not vote to trigger Article 50 without a referendum on the Tories’ Brexit deal. 

Here is the full text of Tim Farron’s letter to Jeremy Corbyn: 

Dear Jeremy,

I am writing to you about the upcoming vote on the triggering of Article 50 in parliament.

As we both know the government will shortly bring forward a Bill to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of negotiating our departure from the European Union.

The result of the referendum was close and no one has had a say on what type of Brexit the government should seek to pursue. There will be many people who voted ‘Leave’, who like the former Conservative MP Stephen Phillips, nonetheless want to remain members of the single market.

Theresa May has decided to take the result of the referendum last June and use it to try and impose a hard, extreme Brexit which has no democratic mandate. I am concerned that Labour seems to be supporting this action.

I am clear that the Liberal Democrats will not vote to trigger Article 50 if the public are not guaranteed a referendum on the outcome of the government’s negotiation, where people can decide to accept the deal the Government makes and leave the European Union, or reject the deal and remain within the European Union. That is a red line.

The public needs clarity on what you will instruct your MPs to do.

There are reports that you will impose a three line whip to vote for Article 50 – something that seems extraordinary given the lack of safeguards or detail the government has offered in regard to key areas of any renegotiations.

Will you now clarify your position on MPs voting for the triggering of Article 50?

Once we have seen the Bill we will seek amendments in a number of areas including measures to guarantee membership of the Single Market (not just access to it). I hope that you will reconsider your support for the government in leaving the Single Market, and join with us in arguing that we need to remain a member of the world’s largest marketplace.

There is nothing progressive about giving Theresa May a blank cheque to decide what form of Brexit she thinks is best and impose it on the country.

So far, Labour have said they will seek to make amendments to the Bill, but have said they will not vote against it even if they do not secure key amendments – this isn’t good enough.

If Labour believe amendments are needed then surely if they do not pass you should vote against the Bill? How can you vote for triggering Article 50 if it sets in train a hard Brexit that will damage our economy, cost jobs and goes against the will of those who voted Remain, and likely a large number of those who voted leave too?

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope that you reconsider your stance.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Farron

Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Tim Farron MP is leader of the Liberal Democrats. He Tweets @TimFarron

See: Jeremy Corbyn says Labour will vote to trigger Article 50

See: Corbyn, Farron, Lucas respond to Theresa May’s ‘clean Brexit’ speech

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4 Responses to “Dear Jeremy Corbyn: Tim Farron’s letter to Labour on Article 50”

  1. Craig Mackay

    Most MPs and Labour Party supporters will agree that the biggest mistake Labour ever made was to support the invasion of Iraq. That was done on the basis of an honest mistake, accepting the contents of a dodgy dossier and the threat of weapons of mass destruction. It transpired that Labour were badly misled by a document riddled with lies. The vote for Brexit was a consequence of a campaign that used extraordinary claims and lies that unravelled almost as soon as the result was declared. This time we know before the vote we are dealing came from a referendum result based substantially on lies.
    It is absolutely vital that Labour throw their weight behind this proposal from Tim Farron. Article 50 must only be triggered if there is a guarantee that either MPs can vote on the outcome of the negotiations or that a second referendum be held. The Leave supporters will hate this because they know that the economy will gradually unravel over the next couple of years risking that they will lose a second referendum.
    The Brexit strategy outlined by Theresa May will be extraordinarily damaging for the economy and for jobs. It is the poor, left behind, just about managing that will bear the brunt. The rich will do well as always but the rest of the population will feel many more years of declining standards of living.
    It is difficult to think of anything that could be more damaging to the lives of the working poor, the traditional Labour voters. For once Labour MPs need to realise this vote has probably more consequence for the country than all the other votes they are likely to take.

  2. Mick Hills

    Farron should shove off and mind his own business. If he and his plastic Tory supporters want to oppose Brexit fine, go and do it and end up with even less seats than you have now. Yes take the Brexit gun and go and shoot yourself in both feet because most constituencies voted out. We know all the arguments about lies but the people seemingly are happy with the lies and are not, repeat not, listening. Those lies have sustained the massive anti- immigrant rump in this country and they are determined to have their day no matter what the consequences of hard Brexit or anything else.
    Labour have to make the case for rights at work and the destruction of safety levels on everything that will follow plus the Country being turned into a tax haven for neo-liberals BUT none of that will make the slightest difference to the immigrant out brigade , they are not listening Mr Fallon so do your own thing.

  3. John Mitchell

    What this amounts to, and I say this as a Liberal Democrat member, is that everything should be done to stall the referendum result. What do we do as a party if another referendum is called and the Tories’ version of Brexit is supported? I think there is a fundamental disconnect or misunderstanding of what the result in June of last year tells us. The majority voted for Brexit and that means leaving the single market, the former Prime Minister said it himself.

    Furthermore, as Lib Dems the party is facing two ways on referendums. The Scottish independence referendum of 2014 should be accepted but the EU referendum of 2016 should not. That is simply not feasible.

  4. Jane jones

    I fail to see why the last commentator says the LibDems face” both ways” on referendums. The whole point is the referendum is to advise the government on action, and the LibDems, as a party, can take any stance on a referendum depending on whether they consider the overall outcome at all sensible or not, surely? I see no problem with that.

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