May offered Corbyn a deal on Brexit votes to avoid second referendum

May ‘offered Corbyn a deal on Brexit free votes that could have allowed them to avoid a second referendum’ and see the UK leave the EU by July 31

  • The plan included free votes on a permanent customs deal with the EU
  • It offered a separate free vote on a referendum which would upset Remainers
  • It was revealed as cross-party talks finally broke down after seven weeks
  • No agreement was able to be reached between the parties despite lengthy talks
  • May will try to get her Brexit deal through the Commons at the start of June

Theresa May today confirmed that Brexit talks with Labour were over after seven fruitless weeks

Theresa May offered Jeremy Corbyn a deal that would have sidestepped a second referendum so the UK could quit the EU before the end of July, it was reported today.

The plan included holding free votes in the Commons on alternatives to Mrs May’s Brussels divorce including the full permanent customs union Mr Corbyn wants to deliver the softest possible Brexit.

But critics have said that allowing MPs to rank their Brexit preferences would lead to the UK quitting the EU with a deal ‘no one wants’.

The plan is in a memo leaked to the Evening Standard today, which will infuriate Labour’s second referendum supporters because it reveals that a new EU vote was not included as a Brexit alternative and would be voted on separately. 

It fleshes out a plan which first came to light last week in which MPs would be given five forms of customs arrangement with the EU, from a full and permanent union to a looser temporary plan and asked to rank them 

This was last week described as an ‘Auf Wiedersehen Pet Brexit’ because of a scene in the cult 1980s comedy where a group of builders vote on a colour to paint a shed and end up with a shade no one likes.

The Standard reported that the plan would also allow MPs a free vote on making a deal subject to a second referendum  – a move which could see off a new vote by allowing Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas to join Brexiteer Tories in opposing it.

A Labour source confirmed that the document was genuine but was presented to the party by the Government and they did not agree to any of it.

Mr Corbyn said with a Tory leadership battle now weeks away he has no ‘confidence’ in the ‘Government’s ability to deliver any compromise agreement’

Mrs May said today: ‘We have not been able to overcome the fact that there is not a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it’

The Brexit deal between the Tories and Labour is dead after 42 days of talks – but Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn had discussed forming a pact to quit the EU by July 31, it was revealed today.

The Labour leader wrote to the Prime Minister today and said they have ‘gone as far as they can’ due to ‘the increasing weakness and instability’ of her premiership.

Mr Corbyn said with a Tory leadership battle now weeks away he has no ‘confidence’ in the ‘Government’s ability to deliver any compromise agreement’.

Hinting that any deal would be torn up he added: ‘The Prime Minister has announced the date she’s leaving, there have been increasing noises off stage by Conservative Cabinet ministers and others who don’t agree with much of the talks or any of the discussions we are holding, so we are concluding the talks’.

Mr Corbyn also blamed Liam Fox for the impasse, saying the Trade Secretary insisted that importing chlorinated chicken from the US after Brexit had to remain ‘on the table’.

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to end Brexit talks, Theresa May said: ‘We have not been able to overcome the fact that there is not a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it.’

As talks broke up today an ugly war of words started a No 10 source said Labour’s chief negotiator Sir Keir Starmer’s push for a second referendum was the biggest sticking point in the talks.

Downing Street insiders claimed splits within the Labour ranks – particularly on the issue of a second referendum – had made it harder to reach an agreement, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer singled out for his ‘strident’ views.

Sir Keir has publicly stated that a deal would be unlikely to pass without it being subject to a public vote.

A source said: ‘It’s clear, and has been for the duration that these talks have gone on, that there are fundamental splits in Labour, particularly on the question of a second referendum.’

Labour would now face a choice whether to deliver on the 2016 result or seek a second referendum, the source said.

If the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is not through by the summer recess, the choice facing the country would become more ‘unpalatable’ as the October 31 Brexit deadline draws near, with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit or Article 50 being revoked and the process being cancelled.

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