Labour has been accused of putting “power over principle” after Emily Thornberry all but ruled out backing a Chequers-style Brexit deal.
The shadow foreign secretary savaged Theresa May’s attempts to find a compromise with the EU and said that a workable deal was “just not going to happen”.
She also indicated that Labour would press for a general election rather than a second referendum if parliament rejected a deal this autumn.
In an interview with the Financial Times she said that she “can’t see them coming back with a deal that is going to meet our six tests”. One of Labour’s conditions for a deal with the EU is that it delivers the same benefits to the UK as its present membership.
Joshua Hardie, deputy director of the CBI, urged the party not to put partisan advantage above national interest. “The risk is that Labour will vote against any May deal using ‘exact benefits’ test as excuse,” he tweeted. “Dangerously close to putting power above principle, wouldn’t automatically lead to general election but could lead to no deal.”
Ms Thornberry anticipated Mrs May’s attempts to present MPs with a choice only of backing a Chequers deal or crashing out without an agreement. “Even if they come back in October, November, and say, ‘This flimsy bit of paper is what you’re going to have to agree to, otherwise there’ll be no deal.’ We’re not going to agree to either of those.”