'Our votes will be decisive': Cruddas and Fitzpatrick join 19 Labour MPs calling for EU deal before Brexit deadline
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 October 2019
Andrew Achilleos and Kois Miah/LBTH
Two east London MPs have joined 19 Labour colleagues by signing letters to EU leaders calling on them to work "night and day" with the British government to thrash out a deal before the October 31 Brexit deadline.
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas and Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick both penned their names on the letters to European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker on Tuesday, October 8.
In the letter, the Labour MPs said they want an "orderly exit" that preserves peace in Ireland, adding they believe a deal that protects EU citizens' rights, workers' rights and environmental standards are "aspects" that would be supported by the majority of the Commons.
The Labour MPs suggested they would support a deal that avoids No-Deal and gives greater certainty for the UK's departure, adding that further delays would only create more public division and political disenchantment.
They also emphasised their votes would be "decisive" in getting a deal through the Commons.
Explaining his decision, Mr Cruddas said: "I made a commitment at the last election to honour the 2016 referendum result, that is why I am urging the EU Commission to agree a deal so that we can move forward as a country. Further delay will solve nothing and will only add to public division.
"I have always maintained that a No-Deal scenario would have too many negative consequences for my constituency, which is why I continue to make every effort to ensure Parliament gets the best possible outcome - whilst still delivering what people in Dagenham and Rainham voted for."
Mr Cruddas' constituency crosses two boroughs. Both voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU - Havering by 69 per cent and Barking and Dagenham by 62pc.
Mr Fitzpatrick singed the letters despite his borough, Tower Hamlets, voting to remain by more than 67pc. In June, he said he will stand down at the next general election. The decision came after Labour HQ asked MPs if they intended to stand again in anticipation of a snap election.
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The Poplar and Limehouse MP defended signing the letters, telling this paper his aim was to prevent a No-Deal Brexit. He also said he campaigned for Remain and twice didn't support the then prime minister Theresa May's proposals.
"It can't be beyond the wit of the EU and the British government to bring a deal in front of the Commons that we can then vote on," he added.
"As a democrat, I believe it's the Commons' duty to vote for what the people voted for.
"I think the majority of the population just want Parliament to get on and sort [Brexit] so we can get on with the domestic agenda.
"The quicker we get Brexit done, the better."
On the other side, Barking's Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge did not put her name to the letters.
She told this paper she respected the 19 Labour MPs and their effort to break the stalemate, but said prime minister Boris Johnson has not been seriously negotiating a deal.
"The prime minister has instead spent the past few weeks attempting to unlawfully shut down Parliament and hide the risks of a No-Deal Brexit from public view," she added.
"We all know that the prime minister and his negotiating team have made no serious proposals that have been considered workable by either business leaders or our European partners.
"So much of what the prime minister has been doing has just been smoke and mirrors. I do not trust him whatsoever to work towards a workable deal that would be good for Britain."
Number 10 has been contacted for comment.