Labour MP Chris Bryant: Theresa May should talk with us on Brexit | News | DW | 13.06.2017
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Labour MP Chris Bryant: Theresa May should talk with us on Brexit

To move Brexit forward, a different style of negotiation is needed - and compromise is the only option, Labour’s Member of Parliament Chris Bryant tells DW.

Deutsche Welle: Despite campaigning for Britain to remain within the European Union, your constituency voted for Brexit and yet you still generated a majority in these new elections. Is Brexit less important to voters now?

Chris Bryant: Brexit hardly appeared on the doorstep. But there was an anger about some of the proposals the Conservatives were coming forward with and there was a sense that Theresa May did not want to engage with the public.

She thought it was hers by right, there was a sense of entitlement and I think the British people hated that. That's why I ended up doubling my majority, even though I had disagreed on Brexit.

Chris Bryant (DW/B.Maass)

Labour MP Chris Bryant

What is the way forward now, could Britain adopt a softer stance on Brexit negotiations now?

I always thought that Theresa May´s position was ludicrous: No to a customs union, no to any membership of the single market,.

I am convinced there's a softer version of Brexit which allows Britain and the European Union to maintain all trade without any type of tariffs, without all the extra burdens that it provides for business but at the same time honors the commitment to leave the European Union.

But immigration was of great importance to those who voted to leave the EU – how can the British government compromise on this?

I wonder if there isn't the possibility of a halfway house, something other countries in the European Union might be interested in. For example the free movement of labour rather than free movement of people. If people are coming for a job they've already secured, then that would  be fine. However if they're coming on a  purely speculative basis then they would not have that same freedom. It may be that there are other countries in Europe that are interested in this as well.

But Brussels has repeatedly said that there can be no ‘cherry picking.' Isn´t the only option to actually stay inside the European Union?

Political circumstances are changing in Europe. The last two years several European countries have seen major terrorist attacks. I don't think anyone wants to ‘shake the tree' of counter-terrorist cooperation, the European Arrest Warrant. So we're going to have to cherry pick.  

And I think Emmanuel Macron will want Britain to stay in as much as possible, because in the end he believes in a liberal economy. If he loses Britain then he's lost an ally.

Arlene Foster, Parteichefin der nordirischen DUP und Theresa May (picture-alliance/empics/C. McQuillan)

Immediately after the shock election results, PM May met with Northern Irish DUP leader Arlene Foster to cobble together support for her government

What is your view on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who are most likely going to support Theresa May´s government?

I think this is a terrible move for Theresa May. With their conservative views on abortion and homosexuality, the DUP is not a political party I would want to be joined at the hip with.

Even more importantly, I want to see the Northern Ireland peace process progress. It's terribly difficult if the government has effectively bound itself to one of the Northern Irish political parties, when they really should be an honest broker.

But what could Theresa May realistically do? The DUP seems to be her only chance.

She could consult, she could make approaches to the Labour Party about some sort of joint Queen's Speech. Angela Merkel obviously has a grand coalition!

And do you think Jeremy Corbyn would say yes to Theresa May?

No. (laughs). But Theresa May would have been better off simply trying to form a minority government without binding herself to another party. It's an unstable approach. Theresa May may have started the election with a slogan of ‘strong and stable' but it's clear she's weak and wobbly. The Conservatives tried to build a personality cult around somebody who hasn't got a personality. Announcing to the world that you're a ‘bloody difficult woman' is just stupidity.

Chris Bryant is a British Labour Party Politician who has served as the Member of Parliament for Rhondda, South Wales, since 2001. He recently gained a majority of 13,746 in his constituency.. Bryant was previously employed as a vicar and then head of European Affairs for the BBC. Since then he has held a number of positions both in government and opposition, most recently serving as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons.

This interview was conducted by Birgit Maass.

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