September 10, 2019 / 12:46 PM / 6 days ago

MPs launch new group to try to secure Brexit deal

LONDON (Reuters) - Several British lawmakers launched a new group on Tuesday to bolster efforts to secure a deal to leave the European Union, hoping to persuade parliament finally to pass an agreement based on one it rejected three times.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Caroline Flint speaks during the Labour Party's annual conference in 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

With the Brexit crisis deepening and parliament suspended, lawmakers are scrambling to find ways to prevent a disruptive no-deal Brexit at the end of October, which they say would hurt businesses, drive up job losses and deepen divides in Britain.

They have passed a law to force Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask for a delay to Brexit if there is no deal, a move he says will tie his hands in talks but one which many lawmakers hope might make him focus on securing an agreement with Brussels.

The group of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat lawmakers, called “MPs (members of parliament) for a deal”, said it would try to rally support for an agreement based on one former leader Theresa May had worked on with the opposition Labour Party.

Caroline Flint, a Labour lawmaker who previously voted in favour of May’s deal, said the group would use “the hours, the days, the weeks left” before the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 to show the “sizeable voice” in parliament for a deal.

“We are all in support of getting a deal and leaving in an orderly way,” she told a news conference, adding there were about 50 Labour lawmakers who wanted a deal. “We may not be as loud as some voices but we are a voice of reason here.”

She said talks between May and Labour had been successful in fleshing out some common ground on Brexit and that the result of those contacts should form a basis for any deal Johnson secures.

Stephen Kinnock, another Labour lawmaker, described the group’s job as showing Johnson “that the numbers are there” to get such a deal through parliament.

“Our job as MPs for a deal is to work relentlessly over the next few weeks, getting it out there to our colleagues and saying ‘sign this bit of paper which says we will vote for a deal,’” he said.

But a spokesman for the prime minister said Johnson was working on making progress in areas which differed from some of the things May had talked about before she resigned.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Stephen Addison

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