Jeremy Corbyn faces massive rebellion as Labour MPs set to vote to keep Britain tied to single market after Brexit

The House of Commons will vote on whether the UK should stay in the European Economic Area after Brexit.

The amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is almost certain to fail – because the Tories are opposed, and Mr Corbyn has ordered his MPs not to support it.

But dozens of Labour backbenchers are set to defy their leader and vote for the amendment, which was proposed by the House of Lords last month.

They claim the EEA is the best way to stop Brexit damaging the British economy – even though it would stop us controlling our borders.

It's thought some shadow ministers may quit Mr Corbyn's team so they can back the amendment.

The vote is set to lay bare the massive Brexit divisions inside Labour – a day after the Tories' own divisions were exposed in the Commons.

Mr Corbyn insists Britain must quit the single market so we can bring an end to free movement, while MPs in Northern constituencies are worried Labour voters will ditch the party if it doesn't respect the referendum result.

But pro-EU backbenchers are intent on driving through the softest Brexit possible – even if that means accepting open borders in future.

The stakes rose last night when the leader of the SDLP, Labour's sister party in Northern Ireland, emailed Labour MPs urging them to back the controversial amendment.

Colum Eastwood said: "While we understand and appreciate that there has been good work and efforts made to move to a position of alignment with the European internal market, the SDLP stresses that the removal of the EEA from the draft text of the bill will represent a weakening of this position – and will risk a hard border in Ireland.

"The SDLP urges all MPs to support the Lords amendment to remain in the EEA – we don't just need a vision for a better negotiation strategy, we need it to be a plan."

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell today admitted Labour are "walking a tightrope" on Brexit, adding: "We campaigned for Remain but many of our MPs, including myself, now represent seats which voted heavily Leave."

Today will also see a vote on the Lords amendment which aims to keep Britain in the customs union.

But Theresa May has cut a deal with pro-EU Tories and convinced most of them not to support that motion – removing one potential headache for the PM.

Supporting the customs union motion, Tory MP Heidi Allen said it was the only way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

And arch-rebel Dominic Grieve added: "Not only will we have to stay in a form of customs arrangement amounting to a union, but we're also going to have to have a high level of regulatory alignment because otherwise the life that takes place along the border will be impossible because of different regulations on either side."

Yesterday saw Mrs May narrowly avoid defeat on another amendment, which would have handed power over the Brexit negotiations to Parliament instead of ministers.



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