Gazette readers want to quit Europe even if it means a no-deal Brexit

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has flown in the face of a Gazette Brexit poll by dismissing calls to crash out of Europe without a deal.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 5:00 am

She warned such a move – favoured by a majority of Gazette readers in our latest online survey – could bring chaos to the country.

The Labour MP, who plans to vote against PM Theresa May’s much-criticised Brexit deal when it goes before Parliament tomorrow, said better options are available.

Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields.

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Her favoured strategy is to secure an extension to Article 50 – the legal withdrawal mechanism under which the UK will leave the EU on March 29.

She believes there is growing consensus for such a move in Parliament amid hopes it would allow time for a cross-party Brexit deal to be negotiated.

Mrs May’s plan was originally due to be put before the Commons in December, but was postponed over fears she would lose.

South Tyneside saw one of the biggest ‘out’ votes in the country in the 2016 Brexit referendum – with 49,065 people voting Leave and 30,014 Remain – 62% to 38%.

The Gazette’s poll asked: ‘Should Brexit proceed without a deal with the EU?’

An overwhelming 61% of the 584 people who have responded are still in favour leaving, even without a deal.

It follows a Gazette poll in April last year which showed 82% of Leave voters and 90% of Remain voters maintained their initial Brexit position.

Ms Lewell-Buck, who voted Remain at the referendum but believes the Brexit vote should be respected, said an extension of Article 50 was the necessary starting point.

She insists this could bring about a consensus on staying in a customs union, which would eradicate the possibility of a hard Irish border.

It would also help secure workers’ rights and maintain current environmental safeguarding standards, which she fears could otherwise be lost.

She said: “We can’t crash out without a deal, we need a grown-up debate around this – we could leave on better terms.

“Every prediction says that if we crash out without a deal there will be chaos.

“It is possible that not everyone who has voted in the Gazette poll is from South Tyneside.

“No one has spoken to more South Shields constituents about Brexit than I have, both Leavers and Remainers.

“They say that they don’t want the deal that Theresa May is putting forward, they think it a bad deal, but they do want to leave the EU.

“I would like an extension to Article 50, and I believe a cross-party deal is an option, people from the Government backbenches and Labour are talking about it.

“It may be the only way to get out of this impasse.”

Jarrow’s Labour MP, Stephen Hepburn, who has previously confirmed he plans to vote against Mrs May, did not respond to a request for comment.