Norwich MP Clive Lewis could leave the shadow cabinet if “cliff-edge Brexit” is on the table

Clive Lewis. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Clive Lewis. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has indicated he could leave the shadow cabinet if there is a three-line whip to vote for a 'cliff edge' Brexit next week.

The shadow business secretary will hold a meeting in Norwich on Friday with constituents to set out his position and listen to people's views.

Mr Lewis will vote this week for the government's Brexit bill to start Britain's EU divorce to proceed to the detailed committee stage.

But he will block the bill if assurances are not given on issues like workers rights and the environment before next week.

'Allowing parliament to scrutinise and put down red lines on key areas as I have always said - workers rights, the environment, proper scrutiny and transparency - is critical. If the government won't accept those, it doesn't have a mandate for a 'cliff edge vandalism Brexit' and I will vote against, whatever the consequences are for me with my personal position.

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'I have made that quite clear, I stick by that. I enjoy my job and think I am doing well at it, but actually there is the bigger issue. 'It goes beyond a position of a shadow cabinet minister. It is probably one of the defining issues of my generation and one of the biggest issues that any of us will probably face in the coming years,' he added.

Mr Lewis is inviting those who have contacted him about the vote to a city meeting to explain his stance in person.

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'I intend to explain to people where I am, and what I am trying to do. I understand there will be people on both sides from leave and remain in Norwich who will be really angry, whatever decision I make on the third reading.'

He said that he was having to navigate his way through two principles - the democratic referendum result and parliamentary democracy.

'Ultimately though I will have to reject the triggering of Article 50 if there are no safeguards, and this is a cliff edge Brexit,' he added.

He suggested there were others in the shadow cabinet in his position, suggesting they 'may come around to my way of thinking'.

'No decision has been taken about the third reading. We are going to see what comes out. That is the decision. Let's see what comes out. The shadow cabinet will make a decision on what is before us in the third reading,' he added.

'A lot of people will say grow a backbone and make a decision. I will go through the process of what the Supreme Court said of being able to represent those in Norwich who voted to leave, and give parliament a chance. Although we voted to leave the EU we did not articulate what it would look like. The government has interpreted that in such a way in Theresa May's speech that I can have no truck with.'

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