Tudor manner: Corbyn tells May not to act like Henry VIII as he warns against Brexit autocracy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2016, 10:21pm

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of behaving like Henry VIII or a similar autocratic monarch because of her refusal to commit to putting a final Brexit deal to a vote in parliament .

In an interview with the Guardian, the Labour leader insisted that the prime minister could not be allowed to use the royal prerogative to bypass the Commons over the UK’s future relationship with continental Europe.

Earlier this month, May repeatedly refused to commit to a parliamentary vote during a select committee hearing – prompting Corbyn to conjure up an image of the prime minister acting as if she was an overbearing Tudor .

“It [a final Brexit deal] would have to come to parliament. She cannot hide behind Henry VIII and the divine rights of the power of kings on this one,” he said, pointing out that MEPs in the European parliament would have a vote on the proposed settlement.

“The idea that on something as major as this the prime minister would use the royal prerogative to bypass parliament is extraordinary – I don’t know where she’s coming from.”

The comments refer to whatever deal is agreed at the end of the Brexit negotiating process in 2019 rather than the trigger of article 50, the formal commencement of exit from the EU, next year.

Arguing that Britain could not be a “bargain basement economy” on the edge of Europe, Corbyn also claimed that there was a “level of exaggeration” about any negative impacts of migration on British society.

Corbyn said: “We should recognise that European workers in Britain do contribute massively to the health service, education, manufacturing industry, care work, agricultural sector. We’d be in quite a difficult place if they all went. “We have to recognise that people do move around the continent, do move to work, do move to pay taxes and to benefit the economy that they come into. They don’t have unfettered access to benefits the day they arrive in Britain, they don’t have unfettered access to housing the day they arrive.”

Corbyn said he wanted people to “think for a moment: who treats them when they go to the doctors, who treats them when they go to hospital, who is doing the technical work often in many places, and you’ll find the same with British people all over the world.”

The Labour leader said he was building alliances with socialist parties in other countries because the final Brexit deal hammered out over two years after article 50 is triggered will be put to the European parliament.

“Presumably all national parliaments will want a say as well, so our relations with socialist groups in every national parliament could be important,” said Corbyn, before insisting that British MPs also had to be given a vote on the deal.

It is not clear whether the government is prepared to offer that or not. The Brexit secretary, David Davis, has hinted that MPs could be given a vote, but May was unwilling to offer that commitment when she appeared in front of the liaison committee last week.

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