Norwich South MP Clive Lewis says bid by pro-European Union Labour MP to ensure single market access was wrong
- Credit: photograph by mark tillie
Pro-European MP Clive Lewis has attacked an attempt to ensure Britain remained in the single market post-Brexit as 'posturing'.
Rebel MP Chuka Umunna tabled the amendment which was supported by Labour frontbenchers who Jeremy Corbyn subsequently sacked for defying the Labour manifesto.
Norwich South MP Mr Lewis quit as shadow business secretary in February to vote against Mr Corbyn's three-line whip over triggering Article 50.
But now he believes it is vital the party unites in the wake of a strong general election result.
'I thought really hard about the amendment that Chuka put forward because I am pro-European. But in the end I decided it was not in the best interests of the party.
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'The Queen's Speech was not the place to make this point. This is a time for unity and showing a united front not in-fighting.
'Nothing in this amendment would have made any difference to the Brexit negotiations – it was simply posturing.
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'By having that amendment it made us look divided.'
After 50 MPs backed the amendment Mr Corbyn immediately made it clear frontbenchers would be sacked. MP Daniel Zeichner had already resigned his role to back the plans but Andy Slaughter, Catherine West and Ruth Cadbury were all dismissed.
The amendment was defeated by a majority of 221. The Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru backed Mr Umunna but no Tories did.
'The Conservatives stayed united,' Mr Lewis added. 'None of those Remain Tory MPs that have been so outspoken voted with Chuka. And we need to stay united as well to best take on the government.
'It is very important that now we have got this great result behind us we stay together. That's how we will beat the Tories.
'The reason people should trust Labour over the Tories when it comes to leaving the European Union is simple. We are focussed on jobs first not some obsession with immigration like the Conservatives.'
Mr Lewis was returned in Norwich South after a spirited campaign that some thought Tory Lana Hempsall could win. In fact Mr Lewis more than doubled his majority.