Hilary Benn: Indicative votes "shows there is support" for Customs Union and confirmatory vote
Hilary Benn spoke to The Parliamentary Review in the wake of last night’s indicative votes, reflecting on the growing support for a Customs Union deal and a confirmatory referendum.
The Labour MP for Leeds Central since 1999 has been a vocal supporter of remain and welcomed the prospect of MPs working together to “find a way forward” in the Brexit negotiations.
Benn has been the Chairman of the Exiting the European Union Select Committee since 2016 and was one of the signatories of Ken Clarke’s Customs Union motion that lost by a margin of eight votes.
Asked about the significance of the results Benn said: “Well I think it’s not entirely surprising that none of the propositions got a majority, but I am struck particularly that two of them – Customs Union and a confirmatory referendum – got more votes tonight in the House of Commons than the prime ministers deal got when it came back for second time when it was defeated by a margin of 149 votes.
“That shows there is support for these two other options and as we now move onto Monday, we can reflect tomorrow on the votes, see whether some of the movers of proposals might be prepared to come together with others.
With eight proposals rejected last night the prime minister is likely to bring back her deal for a third time, a deal that Benn said Labour would continue to oppose.
He added: “The proposition that got the third highest number of votes tonight was Labour’s alternative plan and I think the significance for Labour of tonight was the support we gained for the confirmatory referendum because if we remain deadlocked, and that is possible, then there is no other way of resolving this in the end other than to go back to the British people and say look things have changed since 2016, we now know what the real trade-offs are, this is the deal the prime minister has negotiated is that what you want to support?"
Benn also outlined his support for a confirmatory vote on the final deal, asking: “Why is it so undemocratic to ask the British people nearly three years on, have you changed you mind or have you not?
“Seems to me that would be the right and proper thing to do.”