The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party has seen nearly half of his shadow cabinet and 90 of his MPs defy him to vote in favour of the United Kingdom retaining its membership of the European Economic Area as the House of Commons continues to debate on withdrawal legislation. Jeremy Corbyn and his chief party whip had instructed Labour members of Parliament to abstain from the vote.
74 Labour MPs voted in favour of the amendment to the EU withdrawal legislation put forward by the House of Lords and 18 went as far as to vote with the governing Conservative Party in opposition to the bill.
Among those who defied the party leader was Shadow Cabinet Office Minister and member for Crewe and Nantwich Laura Smith who resigned from her post in protest at the directive from the Labour leader. Ms. Smith, whose constituency voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum took to Twitter to declare that she refused to assist the passage of legislation that she believes fails to deliver the full exit from the European Union that her constituents voted for.
After much reflection, I have resigned as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office to vote against remaining in the EEA. I will always put my constituents in Crewe & Nantwich first— Laura Smith MP (@LauraSmithMP) June 13, 2018
I promised Crewe & Nantwich that I would respect the referendum result. Remaining in the EEA is not compatible with that.— Laura Smith MP (@LauraSmithMP) June 13, 2018
I am tired of being told that I am 'blocking Brexit' by criticising the government's approach to negotiations. I respect the referendum and have demonstrated that today by voting against remaining in the EEA.— Laura Smith MP (@LauraSmithMP) June 13, 2018
Mr. Corbyn had previously committed a future government under the Labour Party to withdraw from the EU and to leave or negotiate a "Norway-style" relationship with the European Single Market while remaining a member of the Customs Union. According to British media reports on June 13, leading EU officials have dismissed Labour's vision as unworkable and an attempt to pick and choose the European institutions Britain remains a party to.