Queen’s Speech: Can Labour exploit Tory divisions to get ‘jobs first’ Brexit deal?

Labour will seek to exploit Tory divisions over Brexit by calling on MPs to support a “jobs first” deal with the European Union in the final round of the House of Commons vote on the Queen’s Speech.

Leader Jeremy Corbyn will challenge MPs to support a Brexit which delivers the “exact same benefits” of the European single market and customs union, according to the Press Association.

The amendment tabled on Thursday will also call on Prime Minister Theresa May to completely rule out Britain leaving the EU without a deal, putting an end to her “no deal is better than a bad deal” mantra, and guarantee the existing rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK.

Corbyn will hope his amendment to the government’s legislative program can exploit apparent Tory divisions on whether to prioritize the economy or immigration in the Brexit negotiations. It could also allow Labour MPs who support continued membership of the single market and customs union, which is not official policy, to back the party’s position.

Corbyn is urging all MPs to support the wide-ranging amendment, saying May does not have a mandate for a “race to the bottom” exit from the EU after the Tories lost their Commons majority in a disastrous general election.

However, with May having agreed a £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up a minority Tory government, the amendment looks unlikely to pass.

Corbyn said the Conservative program is in “tatters” following the general election.

“Theresa May does not have a mandate for continued cuts to our schools, hospitals, police and other vital public services, or for a race-to-the-bottom Brexit,” Corbyn told the House on Wednesday.

“Labour will fight these policies every step of the way.

“Labour won support in every region and nation of Britain for our jobs-first Brexit approach and our policies that would transfer wealth, power and opportunity to the many from the few.

“We invite MPs from across the House of Commons to take on board the strength of public opinion and desire for change in our country, and vote for our amendment to bring forward policies to invest and improve public services, and put money in the pockets of the many not the few.”

Labour is also set to table an amendment calling on the government to reverse what the opposition describes as “falling living standards” in the UK, which includes greater action to tackle rising energy bills and stagnant wages.

Another amendment, which will likely prove tricky for May’s minority government, will be proposed by Labour MP Stella Creasy. It calls on women from Northern Ireland to be able to legally access free and safe abortions in England and Wales via the National Health Service (NHS).

The DUP has played a major part in making sure abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland. Tory MPs are reportedly particularly worried about this amendment reaching the floor as they believe there is a good chance the government will lose it.

On Wednesday evening, the Tories defeated a Labour amendment calling for an end to the public sector pay cap by 323 votes to 309.