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Labour breaks off Brexit talks with Theresa May

May 17, 2019

Britain's opposition Labour Party says talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on the Brexit stalemate have reached the limit. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was too unstable for any deal to be secured.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, on Friday announced the end of six weeks of fruitless negotiations with Prime Minister Theresa May to find a compromise deal on the conditions of the country's departure from the European Union.

Corbyn said in a letter to May that the talks had "gone as far as they can" and pointed to "important policy gaps" between the two parties.

May's Conservative Party's moves toward choosing a new leader had made the government "ever more unstable" and he had little confidence in its ability "to deliver any compromise agreement," Corbyn wrote.

He said that although he would "carefully consider any proposals the government wishes to bring forward to break the Brexit deadlock," he would continue to oppose the deal as it stood.

When Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar spoke of the issue with national broadcaster RTE on Friday, the taoiseach said, "It's a very serious development and a very negative development unfortunately."

Liberal Democratic leader Vince Cable took aim at both the government and Labour in a tweet, warning, "Remain voters will not be fooled by Corbyn walking out now," and adding, "Every vote for the LibDems is a vote to stop Brexit."


Read more: EU Council President Tusk: 20-30% chance Brexit doesn't happen

Thorny negotiations

The cross-party talks were always fraught with difficulties, with May aware that any concessions to Labour would cause outrage in her party, while Labour has feared that any clauses on such issues as workers' rights that it managed to put in the deal would immediately be scrapped by May's successor.

The failure of the talks marks the end of another desperate attempt by Britain to come up with a Brexit deal capable of garnering the support it needs to be approved by Parliament.

Read moreBrexit deal: What Germany wants, what Theresa May can get

May's deal, which has thrice failed to pass, will be put to the vote again in early June, although rebels in her party have vowed to defeat it. She has agreed to set out a timetable for her departure after the vote.

She says that if the deal does receive parliamentary approval, Britain could leave the EU in July, which would be long before the current October 31 deadline set by the bloc.

After the end of the talks with Labour, her spokesman said she would continue to try to get lawmakers from her own party and the DUP, a Northern Irish party that props up her government, to overcome their concerns about her deal.

Read more: Brexit drives firms to relocate to Germany


May: 'This is a difficult time for our party'

 tj/rt (Reuters, AP)

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