Sadiq Khan has written to all 73 London Members of Parliament, urging them to do cast aside party differences and do “whatever it takes” to stop a no-deal Brexit taking place under the premiership of his predecessor as London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Khan says in his letter, which was sent out this morning, that he is “extremely concerned that a reckless no-deal Brexit now seems to be the government’s preferred scenario, despite its own impact assessments pointing to the disastrous consequences” of such an outcome. He claims that in two years’ time there could be “as many as 87,000 fewer jobs” in the capital and two per cent less economic growth than predicted under the UK’s current EU membership.
However, though a majority of the capital’s MPs, most of them Labour, can already be expected to heed the Labour Mayor’s call, it is not clear how many Conservatives, who could be vital to attempts to thwart no deal in parliament, are likely to defy their leader over the issue in the coming days by helping to pass a planned new law to achieve this.
London Tory MPs Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst) and Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) were among 11 who rebelled against the government of Theresa May in December 2017, ensuring that parliament was given a vote on the Brexit deal agreement with the European Union. It resulted in Hammond losing his position as his party’s vice chairman for its London region. Both MPs vote to Remain in the EU at the 2016 referendum, but have yet to state explicitly whether they would support legislation stopping the government leaving the EU without a deal at the end of October.
On his website, Neill has said he does not believe the prorogation of parliament is unconstitutional or a “coup” and contends that, although he would prefer to leave the Eu with a deal, a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would cause more damage than leaving without one. He also rules out supporting “any no confidence motion” in the government and adds that he is confident that Johnson still wants to secure a deal.
By contrast, Hammond wrote on Twitter last week that he was “disappointed and surprised at the decision to prorogue parliament” and “that it is wrong, undemocratic and constitutionally outrageous for Parliament to be prevented from holding the Government to account at a time of national crisis.” He added: “The Prime Minister should be using all his efforts to secure a deal with the EU, rather than blocking MPs doing the job for which we are elected.” Hammond has also re-tweet criticism of transport minister Grant Shapps for reportedly telling BBC Radio 4 that the Irish backstop could not be agreed to by any democratic nation when he had previously effectively voted for it by supporting May’s withdrawal agreement.
Justine Greening (Putney), another prominent London Tory Remainer, who has in the past called for a second referendum, has also condemned the decision to prorogue parliament, calling it “totally wrong” and “a grubby attempt to force No Deal”. Repeating the point in a recent newsletter to constituents she added: “I do not believe there is a mandate for No Deal and will oppose that outcome in Parliament, working cross party.”
Most other London Tory MPs appear firmly behind their prime minister, the MP for Uxbridge & South Ruislip, as does long-time Labour Leaver Kate Hoey (Vauxhall), who took an unpaid role as Johnson’s adviser on sport when he was London Mayor. Hoey has re-tweeted a number of attacks on pro-Remain MPs and campaigners, including one by Corbyn’s brother Piers, which endorses a description of last Friday’s “stop the coup” demonstration in Westminster as “the most dishonest demo I’ve ever seen”.
Conservative London Assembly Member Keith Prince issued a scathing response to Mayor Khan’s intervention, saying MPs “may wonder why he is spending so much of his time penning letters about Brexit rather than focussing on the day job. They should urge him to focus on bringing down London’s stratospheric violent crime rates, getting more homes built and fixing the financial black hole in the TfL budget”.
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