May defend opposition talks on Brexit

Prime Minister (PM) Theresa May has insisted she had to reach out to Labour in a bid to deliver Brexit or risk letting it “slip through our fingers”.

The PM said there was a “stark choice” of either leaving the European Union (EU) with a deal or not leaving at all.

And shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey says if no-deal became an option Labour would consider “very, very strongly” voting to cancel Brexit.

Some Tories have criticised the PM for seeking Labour’s help on her deal.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the Tories were working with Labour “through gritted teeth”, adding that no deal would be better than cancelling Brexit.

Members of Parliament (MPs) have rejected Mrs May’s Brexit plan three times and last week’s talks between the two parties were aimed at trying to find a proposal which could break the deadlock in the Commons before an emergency EU summit on Wednesday.

However, the three days of meetings stalled without agreement on Friday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he was “waiting to see the red lines move” and had not “noticed any great change in the government’s position”.

He is coming under pressure from his MPs to demand a referendum on any deal he reaches with the government, with 80 signing a letter saying a public vote should be the “bottom line” in the negotiations.

In a statement issued on Saturday night, Mrs May said after doing “everything in my power” to persuade her party – and its backers in Northern Ireland’s DUP – to approve the deal she agreed with the EU last year, she “had to take a new approach”.

“We have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons,” the PM said, insisting the two main parties agreed on the need to protect jobs and end free movement.

“The referendum was not fought along party lines and people I speak to on the doorstep tell me they expect their politicians to work together when the national interest demands it.”

Getting a majority of MPs to back a Brexit deal was the only way for the UK to leave the EU, Mrs May said.

Ms Long-Bailey, who was involved in Labour’s meetings with the government, told BBC’s Andrew Marr Show they were “very good-natured” and there had been “subsequent exchanges”. –BBC

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