Labour has descended into a row with MPs branding their own colleagues “cowards” while warning they would “never be forgiven” if they backed Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

 

The row erupted after an MP signalled he could accept funding to regenerate his constituency in return for backing the prime minister’s deal in the commons.

 

One colleague said it would be a betrayal as bad as first Labour leader Ramsay Macdonald’s decision to form a government with opposition MPs.

 

It comes after 14 MPs defied the Labour whip and refused to back a plan to delay Brexit, brought forward by ex-Labour minister Yvette Cooper, while seven backed the move to mandate Ms May to go back to Brussels and renegotiate her deal.

 

A handful of the party’s frontbenchers also failed to vote with the whip by abstaining, underlining the increasing difficulty of maintaining unity behind Mr Corbyn’s nuanced line on Brexit.

Downing Street denied that the government was offering “cash for votes” to Labour MPs from Leave-voting constituencies, but it did hint at additional financial support for former mining communities.

Labour’s Brexit-backing Bassetlaw MP John Mann, tweeted: “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.

“Our areas need to see a fund established that is transformative. The forgotten areas of Britain who voted Leave want jobs, rights and investment.”

 

But in a furious backlash, London MP David Lammy said of anyone thinking of doing a deal: “More fool them. Socialists, my arse. Cowards and facilitators. History will be brutal.”

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 MP John Mann 

The MP later compared them to servants in the ITV costume drama Downton Abbey, accepting a gift from the master of the house.

 

Another London MP, Wes Streeting, said the government’s promise of funding is “not worth the newsprint it is printed on”, claiming the real Conservative agenda was to “slash workers’ rights, to weaken trade unions and to open up our public services to untrammelled market forces”.

 

He added: “For Labour MPs to align themselves with the likes of Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel on Brexit would be a mistake that would rank alongside Ramsay MacDonald’s 1931 creation of a national government.

“It would never be forgiven and never be forgivable.”

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Other Labour MPs from constituencies in the north, who also voted against the plan to delay Brexit, also weighed in.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “Nobody from government has approached me about this, but if they did I would tell them there’s no point investing in towns if they’re taking us down a route that destroys jobs, wages and workers’ rights.

 

“A permanent customs union and commitment to workers’ rights remains the issue.”

And Wirral South MP Alison McGovern, who backs a fresh referendum, said: “The fact is, it will be a lot easier to invest in the coalfield areas and other towns if we stay in the EU.”

It follows the spat between Labour MPs earlier in the week following the result of Tuesday’s votes on Brexit.

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Pro-EU MPs said they were disappointed colleagues had not backed the play to delay Brexit in enough numbers to make it pass, while Graham Stringer MP, one of those who refused to back, compared colleagues trying to push it through to “kindergarten” children.

 

Asked on Thursday whether there would be sanctions against Labour MPs who did not vote for Yvette Cooper’s amendment, Mr Corbyn said: “I was very disappointed because we came to the view that we would support Yvette Cooper’s proposals.

“I discussed them with her and she agreed with me to reduce the time on it to a maximum of three months because it was rather open-ended before that.

“On that basis, I recommended that all Labour MPs should support it. Sadly, a small number decided not to and we will be dealing with that issue.”

Pushed on how he would be “dealing with it”, the Labour leader said: “We will be speaking to them and sanctions may or may not apply after those discussions. But I would also say that at the Labour Party conference last year we came to a unanimous view on the Labour proposals which are the three pillars – customs union, access to the market and protection of rights.

“I would expect all Labour MPs to support the conference position on that which is what I put forward to parliament.”