Tom Watson warned Labour MPs not to accept ‘bribes’ from Theresa May in return for votes on her Brexit deal today.
Labour’s deputy leader slammed claims ‘financial incentives’ were being offered by Downing Street to MPs from Leave-backing constituencies.
The tactic is apparently being used by Mrs May and one of the targeted MPs John Mann yesterday declared ‘show us the money’.
Independent former Labour MP Frank Field said he would only vote for a deal that was right today but said he had no issues with taking money for his constituents in return.
Downing Street has played down the idea of a ‘package’ deal but has insisted Mrs May has always been committed to a ‘national renewal’ after Brexit.
Tom Watson (pictured today on BBC Breakfast) warned Labour MPs not to accept ‘bribes’ from Theresa May in return for votes on her Brexit deal today
Independent former Labour MP Frank Field (pictured today on BBC News) said he would only vote for a deal that was right today but said he had no issues with taking money for his constituents in return
Theresa May (pictured) will persuade Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal by offering money for their constituencies, it has been claimed
Mr Watson told BBC Breakfast today: ‘If there are financial incentives for constituencies like that… it would be a bribe and it would be wrong
‘I don’t think any MP would take a bribe like that. I suspect what John Man was saying and maybe he got his words jumbled is the reasons why so many constituencies voted for Brexit is because of the economic divide and the opportunities people in those areas have.
‘That’s an issue we all need to be concerned about but after the Brexit negotiations are over as well.’
But Mr Field – who walked out of Labour’s parliamentary party over anti-Semitism – said he had set out a list of demands from the Government as he mulled the deal.
He told BBC News: ‘I hope that people will only vote for a deal that they believe is right.
‘If the government is going to give us money for doing what we think is right, what’s actually wrong with that?
‘I am certainly yeserday made clear the things I want money spent on not just in Birkenhead but a whole package for the north. ‘
Yesterday Remainer MPs launched an extraordinary assault on Labour Brexiteers after they welcomed a bid by Mrs May to ‘buy’ support for her deal.
The PM is preparing to pump millions of pounds into Leave-backing constituencies as she tries to entice wavering Opposition politicians.
Who were the Labour rebels aganst delaying Brexit this week?
- Ian Austin, Dudley North
- Kevin Barron, Rother Valley
- Ronnie Campbell, Blyth Valley
- Rosie Cooper, West Lancashire
- Jim Fitzpatrick, Poplar and Limehouse
- Caroline Flint, Don Valley
- Roger Godsiff, Birmingham Hall Green
- Stephen Hepburn, Jarrow
- Kate Hoey, Vauxhall
- John Mann, Bassetlaw
- Dennis Skinner, Bolsover
- Laura Smith, Crewe and Nantwich
- Gareth Snell, Stoke-on-Trent Central
- Graham Stringer, Blackley and Broughton
The ‘pork barrel’ tactic is effectively an admission that Mrs May cannot get a package through Parliament with just Tory and DUP votes.
The move was hailed by Labour MPs, with John Mann urging the PM to ‘show us the money’.
But Tottenham MP David Lammy, who has been demanding a second referendum, branded his colleagues ‘fools’ for working with the government.
‘Socialists my arse. Cowards and facilitators. History will be brutal,’ he said.
The wrangling comes amid increasingly frantic efforts to forge a cross-party consensus.
There is speculation that Jeremy Corbyn could be softening his position, after years of demanding a full customs union and the ‘exact same benefits’ as current membership terms. He pointedly refused to sack shadow ministers who defied orders and helped the government during crunch Commons votes on Tuesday.
Labour MP Lisa Nandy, whose Wigan constituency voted 64 per cent to Leave in 2016, insisted her party now had to ‘make real choices’ and ‘respect the result of the referendum’.
The PM could target extra cash at the Leave-backing constituencies of Melanie Onn (left) and Gloria de Piero (right), who were among the shadow ministers who abstained in a vote on delaying Brexit this week
Shadow minister Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, was also absent for the crucial vote in the Commons this week. John Mann (right) welcomed the prospect of money for Leave-backing constituencies
Mrs May is battling to win a majority for her Brexit deal amid fierce opposition from many of her own Conservative backbenchers.
Number 10 aides believe the backing of 20 Labour MPs could be enough to take a Brexit deal over the line to avoid a cliff-edge exit on March 29, The Times reported.
A Government source told the newspaper: ‘There’s a willingness to look again at coalfield communities and make good the promises that former Labour governments failed to deliver.
‘It’s about allowing Labour MPs representing Brexit communities to show that they have extracted something tangible in return for their vote.’
Mr Mann said: ‘Show us the money. A fund of sufficient size to transform our communities.
‘Our areas voted leave and it is time that we had the investment we need.’
Labour’s Stephen Hepburn also made clear he would be bidding for cash for Jarrow.
‘More funding is needed to deal with the maintenance of roads in this area,’ he tweeted.
Ms Nandy told ITV’s Peston programme it was now ‘incumbent on the Labour Party now to start making real choices about what it is that we want’.
‘There is still a debate going on within the Labour Party about whether we respect the result of the referendum or whether we have a second referendum,’ she said.
‘We went into the 2017 election saying that we respected the result of the referendum… My view is that that is important.’
Fourteen Labour rebels broke with Jeremy Corbyn to block a proposed Brexit delay in a Commons vote on Tuesday night.
A handful of shadow ministers who appeared to defy him by skipping the vote, including Melanie Onn, Mike Kane, and Gloria de Piero.
MailOnline understands none of them had permission to be absent. Tory sources confirmed that they were not ‘paired’ with other MPs – the mechanism for balancing out votes when people cannot attend the Commons.
Seven Labour MPs also voted with the Tories to back the Brady amendment calling for changes to the Irish backstop.
Tuesday’s Commons vote demanded the replacement of the backstop with ‘alternative arrangements’ to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Mrs May is due to report back to Parliament on her negotiations with the EU on February 13, with a further series of votes by MPs expected the following day.