United Kingdom to seek further Brexit delay, try to break logjam: PM

Apr 08, 2019, 01:19
United Kingdom to seek further Brexit delay, try to break logjam: PM

Theresa May and her colleagues are adamant that Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to national security who should not be kept away from power, yet now they are having to concede he is worth listening to over Brexit.

Earlier Tánaiste Simon Coveney warned that a no-deal Brexit is still a very real possibility.

"I believe we have two great challenges".

Both the government and Labour called the meeting "constructive" and said their teams would hold more in-depth talks Thursday (Friday NZ time).

However, by approaching Corbyn, a veteran socialist loathed by many of May's Conservatives and mocked by May herself as unfit to govern, she risks further inflaming divisions in her party.

If that fails, it will be up to Parliament to decide what happens next, she said.

Fellow junior minister Chris Heaton-Harris also said he was quitting his Brexit department post because he thought Britain should have left on the original deadline date of March 29.

But given the prime minister's dramatic change of direction, the rival plans could yet converge - especially if she does manage to strike a compromise with Corbyn.

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The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the European Union last Friday, but three years after Britons voted for Brexit in a referendum, it is still unclear how, when or even if it will exit the bloc.

The House of Commons has also failed to find a majority for any alternative plan in two days of voting on multiple options.

The EU should prepare for the implications of a no-deal Brexit on the future security partnership with the United Kingdom, the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday (2 April).

But Britain could ask the European Union for a long Brexit delay that gives the option to leave as soon as a divorce deal is approved by parliament, finance minister Philip Hammond indicated.

"I realise some of you will be concerned about the government discussing the way forward with the opposition", May said in a letter to Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday.

The minister added that he did not personally think a customs union was desirable.

May has always ruled that out, saying it would limit Britain's ability to forge an independent trade policy.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said the government would accept a soft Brexit if parliament voted for it.

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Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, said Brexit "is becoming soft to the point of disintegration". He was not alone as other MPs pushing for a "hard" Brexit lambasted the decision to open talks with Mr. Corbyn, with one - Jacob Rees-Mogg - describing him as a "known Marxist".

The group behind the Bill hopes once it has passed the Commons it could be approved by the House of Lords and granted Royal Assent in time for the emergency European Union summit on April 10.

Pro-EU lawmakers were not banking on talks between May and Corbyn succeeding. "Better late than never", said European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt.

The offer of the olive branch was accepted by the Labour leader, who said that "we will meet the prime minister".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel likewise vowed to "fight until the last hour" to avoid a no-deal outcome.

The decision must still be approved by a plenary session of the European Union parliament on Thursday to become European Union law.

However, the withdrawal agreement would have to be approved by the House of Commons by April 12. Associated Press writers Danica Kirka in London and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

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