Jeremy Corbyn is plunged into chaos as 19 rebels defy the whip to back Boris Johnson's Brexit deal - as Labour leader tells his MPs they 'cannot afford' to turn down another General Election offer

  • Some 19 Labour rebels disobeyed Jeremy Corbyn to support the PM's Brexit deal
  • They powered Mr Johnson to a 30 vote victory as MPs backed him 329 to 299 
  • Mr Corbyn had told his MPs to vote against Mr Johnson's new Brexit agreement 
  • But most rebels then voted against PM's Brexit timetable, pushing him to defeat 
  • Latest rebellion comes after half a dozen Labour MPs defied leader over No Deal  

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Jeremy Corbyn was plunged into Brexit chaos on Tuesday night as 19 rebels defied the whip to back Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

It comes amid reports that the Labour leader has warned his MPs that they 'cannot afford' to turn down another general election offer.

The 19 rebels voted for the second reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill despite threats of being deselected and thrown out of the party.

The Labour leader said the PM's deal was 'rotten' and ordered his MPs to vote against it as he tried to control a pro-Brexit rebellion. 

Without the support of the Labour rebels Mr Johnson's plan would have been doomed to defeat.

An insider claimed that Mr Corbyn last week pleaded with a group of his MPs to back an election or face being held in contempt by their voters.

One of those present told The Sun Mr Corbyn said: 'We just cannot afford to turn down another election request.' 

Labour's official stance is that an election cannot be assented to if Mr Johnson is able to wield the threat of a No Deal Brexit at the ballot box.  

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in the House of Commons today, instructed his MPs to vote against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal but he suffered a rebellion

Jeremy Corbyn, pictured in the House of Commons today, instructed his MPs to vote against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal but he suffered a rebellion

Mr Johnson was able to win over some Labour MPs this evening as he tries to protect his 'do or die' October 31 Brexit pledge

Mr Johnson was able to win over some Labour MPs this evening as he tries to protect his 'do or die' October 31 Brexit pledge

Mr Corbyn suggested last week that Labour MPs who supported the PM's deal despite his ardent opposition to it would not be kicked out of the party. 

Calls for disciplinary action to be taken against the latest batch of rebels are likely to grow given the high-stakes nature of tonight's vote.  

However, the 19 rebels may have cooled any anger directed at them from their colleagues as they then helped to scupper Mr Johnson's hopes of crashing his Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the Commons in just three days. 

MPs voted against fast-tracking the passage of the PM's legislation by 322 votes to 308, a majority of 14, leaving the UK in a state of Brexit limbo. 

Only five Labour MPs sided with the government on the second vote as the Labour switchers consigned Mr Johnson to a defeat which has put his hopes of meeting the October 31 deadline in peril.

Downing Street had focused hard on winning over Labour MPs who had previously said they wanted to back a Brexit deal ahead of tonight's vote. 

Number 10's efforts were rewarded as 19 Labour MPs, most of who represent Leave voting constituencies, jumped ship to back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and give it a second reading. 

It is easily the most Labour MPs to have backed a government Brexit deal with Theresa May having never got close to such a number when she was trying to get her old deal through the Commons. 

The 19 rebels were: Sir Kevin Barron, Sarah Champion, Rosie Cooper, Jon Cruddas Gloria De Piero, Jim Fitzpatrick, Caroline Flint, Mike Hill, Dan Jarvis, Emma Lewell-Buck, John Mann, Grahame Morris, Lisa Nandy, Melanie Onn, Stephanie Peacock, Jo Platt, Ruth Smeeth, Laura Smith and Gareth Snell. 

But most of the 19 then ditched the government as MPs rejected Mr Johnson's plan to get his deal through the the Commons by the end of Thursday. 

Just five Labour MPs voted for the PM's proposed timetable: Sir Kevin, Mr Fitzpatrick, Ms Flint, Mr Mann and Kate Hoey.  

Victory on the first vote and defeat on the second one prompted Mr Johnson to tell MPs he would pause efforts to get his deal agreed by Parliament while he waits to see whether the EU will offer a Brexit delay. 

Mr Johnson reiterated that he is opposed to any delay being offered and said that he would make that clear to EU leaders in phone calls in the coming hours. 

Jeremy Corbyn ignored the threat of a general election as he responded to the PM in the Commons debate today

But if Mr Johnson is able to find a way to provide MPs more time to discuss his proposals, potentially by accepting a short delay, he will have a good chance of getting his deal agreed - assuming the 19 Labour backbenchers continue to back his agreement. 

Having cleared its second reading the WAB would still need to pass three more Commons stages to progress to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. 

Tonight's rebellion comes just days after half a dozen MPs deserted Mr Corbyn in a crunch No Deal vote on Saturday. 

A rebel amendment put forward by Sir Oliver Letwin at the weekend which forced Mr Johnson to ask the EU for a Brexit delay against his wishes was agreed by 322 votes to 306, a majority of 16. 

Labour supported the move but six of the party's MPs decided to defy Mr Corbyn and vote with the government in a failed attempt to stop Mr Johnson's Brexit plans being scuppered. 

PM recorded a historic victory by 329 to 299 as MPs gave his Withdrawal Agreement Bill a second reading, but MPs then thwarted the PM's efforts to rush the laws through Commons in just 72 hours by 322 to 308 (pictured: Mr Johnson folds his arms during tonight's debate)

PM recorded a historic victory by 329 to 299 as MPs gave his Withdrawal Agreement Bill a second reading, but MPs then thwarted the PM's efforts to rush the laws through Commons in just 72 hours by 322 to 308 (pictured: Mr Johnson folds his arms during tonight's debate)

After that vote attention immediately turned to whether the rebels would be punished. 

But they just received a slap on the wrist from party whips and nothing more. 

Mr Corbyn had suggested last week that Labour MPs who backed the government on Brexit would not be expelled from the party. 

He said at the time that he believed 'in the power of persuasion rather than the power of threat'. 

Speaking in the Commons today, the Labour leader said of the PM's deal: 'Page after page of what amounts to nothing less than a charter for deregulation and a race to the bottom.

'A deal and a Bill that fails to protect our rights and our natural world, fails to protect jobs and the economy, fails to protect every region and nation in the United Kingdom.' 

Labour plunged into fresh Brexit chaos as 19 MPs back Boris Johnson's deal

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