Labour refuses to engage with May’s cross-party talks unless ‘no deal’ Brexit is ruled out

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JEREMY CORBYN condemned Theresa May’s offer of cross-party Brexit talks as a “stunt” today and refused to engage with her until she rules out the option of leaving the European Union without a deal.

The Labour leader said that the Prime Minister’s invitation to enter talks just days after MPs rejected her Brexit deal by a margin of 230 votes — the biggest Commons defeat for any government in British political history — was a “phoney” move.

Ms May has made no “serious attempt to engage with the new reality that is needed” to get a withdrawal agreement through Parliament after her humiliating defeat on Tuesday, he added.

She has been “completely unable to grasp what actually happened” but needs to “ditch her red lines” and consider alternative options, Mr Corbyn continued.

Speaking in Hastings, he told around 200 Labour activists that yesterday’s vote of no confidence in the government, which was defeated by a margin of 19, would not be the last that he tables.

Next Monday, Labour will propose amendments to Ms May’s Plan B for Brexit that would put forward the party’s preference for a customs union with the EU, a close single market relationship and protections of rights, he added.

Mr Corbyn reiterated that Labour wants a general election and that the party could consider a second referendum as a last resort.

“But I can’t really go along with the idea it should simply be a rerun of what happened in 2016,” he said during the Q&A session.

“There has to be a discussion about the options that we put forward and we’ve put forward the three options that I’ve outlined.”

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Mr Corbyn was the only Westminster party leader to have not had discussions with Ms May by the time the Star went to print.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP will refuse to enter talks unless a second EU referendum can take place with a “four-nation lock,” where the result will be valid only if all nations of the UK vote the same way.

Mr Corbyn sent an open letter to Ms May today, in which he said: “The Chancellor and the Business Secretary were both open to ruling out ‘no deal’ in the recent conference call with business leaders.

“Therefore, on behalf of the Labour Party, I ask you to rule out ‘no deal’ and to immediately end the waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money preparing for a ‘no deal’ outcome.

“The £4.2 billion currently allocated to ‘no deal’ planning could significantly improve many of cash-starved public services on which people rely and could transform the lives of those struggling on universal credit.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas met Ms May this morning and confirmed that the PM is refusing to rule out leaving the EU without an agreement.

A Downing Street spokesman said Ms May will also stick to her Brexit “principles,” which include rejecting a customs union and a second referendum.

Published at https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/labour-refuses-to-engage-with-may%27s-cross-party-talks-unless-no-deal-brexit-is-ruled-out