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Jeremy Corbyn to order Labour MPs to back start of Brexit in Parliament vote

Jeremy Corbyn will order Labour MPs not to block Brexit if the Prime Minister is forced to seek the approval of Parliament to trigger Article 50.

The Labour leader said he had made it "very clear" that his party accepts the decision made by the public in the referendum.

But in a sign of the unease within Labour ranks over Brexit, one of his key shadow cabinet allies said that allowing Theresa May to formally begin the process under her current plans would not be in the best interests of the country.

Mr Corbyn's commitment on Article 50 follows reports that members of the shadow cabinet were considering voting against allowing the Prime Minister to formally start the Brexit process.

Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis, a supporter of Mr Corbyn, told his local newspaper that the Government's position on Brexit was "unacceptable" and he wanted further assurances.

The Norwich South MP told the Eastern Daily Press: "I don't think what is currently on the table, given the irreversibility of Article 50, means that signing Article 50 under these conditions is in the best interests of people in Norwich or the country.

"However it is the job of the opposition to see what we can get between now and March 31 in terms of assurances and guarantees and I think that will be critical to many people when they come to make their decision on this vote."

Setting out Labour's position, Mr Corbyn told Sky News: "It's very clear the referendum made a decision that Britain is to leave the European Union.

"It was not to destroy jobs and living standards or communities, but it was to leave the European Union and have a different relationship in the future.

"I have made it very clear that the Labour Party accepts and respects the decision of the British people. We will not block Article 50."

Asked if that meant he would be imposing a three-line whip on Labour MPs, he said: "It means that all Labour MPs will be asked to vote in that direction next week or whenever the vote comes up."

The Supreme Court will give its judgment next week on whether the Government needs to seek the approval of MPs and peers before the formal Article 50 Brexit process begins.

The highest court in the land will decide whether to reject or allow a Government appeal against a High Court ruling which blocked the royal prerogative being used to trigger Britain's exit from the European Union without Parliament having a say.

In a further indication of the Liberal Democrats' goal of winning over Remain-supporting Labour voters, the party's leader Tim Farron said: "Not only did Jeremy Corbyn fail to campaign against Brexit in the referendum, he is now actively helping Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis to pull Britain out of the single market at a huge cost to jobs and prosperity.

"How can you profess to stand up for worker rights when you are conniving in a policy that will cost vast numbers of jobs? This shows that the Liberal Democrats are not only the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government, we are now the only opposition."

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