Several members of Labour’s shadow cabinet reportedly might refuse to vote in favour of a parliamentary bill invoking Article 50 in defiance of the EU referendum result.
The Prime Minister will discover next Tuesday whether she will require the prior approval of Parliament before triggering divorce talks with the EU.
If Theresa May is defeated in the Supreme Court, the Government is believed to be preparing legislation to table as early as Wednesday to gain the consent of MPs and peers for Brexit.
But the Prime Minister may not be able to count on the support of leading Labour MPs in a vote on Article 50, it has emerged.
One shadow cabinet minister from a Remain-supporting constituency told the Guardian: “I’m concerned that if we waive Article 50 through, my constituents will go crazy.”
Another said: “When the pain hits, as it will, and when people lose their jobs, you need to be on the right side of that. I don’t think we should vote to trigger Article 50.”
Jeremy Corbyn's top MPs could reportedly try and block Article 50
Labour is too divided and incompetent even to agree to respect the decision people have already made
Tory MP Dominic Raab
Responding to the suggestion top Labour MPs might attempt to halt Article 50, Tory MP Dominic Raab – member of the House of Commons’ Exiting the European Union Select Committee – said: “Labour backed the EU referendum that put the decision on UK membership of the EU in the hands of the British people.
“It's unbelievable that members of Jeremy Corbyn's top team are now plotting to vote to ignore the result if they get the chance.
“The Prime Minister has set out a comprehensive plan to build a global Britain as we exit the EU that has commanded wide support.
“Labour is too divided and incompetent even to agree to respect the decision people have already made.”
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Mr Corbyn refused to confirm he would force his MPs to vote in favour of Article 50 by imposing a three-line whip on his party.
He told Sky News: “It’s very clear the referendum made a decision that Britain was to leave the EU.
“It wasn't to destroy jobs or living standards or communities but it was to leave the EU and have a different relationship in the future.
“I've made it very clear the Labour Party accepts and respects the decision of the British people. We will not block Article 50.”
But specifically asked whether he would enforce a three-line whip on an Article 50 vote, Mr Corbyn said: “It means all Labour MPs will be asked to vote in that direction next week or whenever the vote comes up.”
The Labour leader has previously claimed his party will seek an amendment to a potential Article 50 bill to impose certain conditions on the Government’s Brexit negotiating strategy.
Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs are likely to oppose Article 50 in Parliament, should a vote be required.