Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, and Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, are at loggerheads after May refused to give in to the “impossible condition” of the Labour Party of ruling out the possibility of a no deal Brexit.
In a letter that was addressed to the Labour leader, the Prime Minister urged her opposite number to drop the demand – which is the precondition of Corbyn for any cross-party discussions on breaking the Brexit deadlock.
The Labour leader has also urged his MPs to refuse negotiations with the UK government until May decides to backs down.
Labour MPs who met with ministers on Thursday – including Hilary Benn, Stephen Kinnock, and Yvette Cooper – also informed the government that a no deal scenario is necessary to be ruled out before negotiations could continue, a position that echoed by Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader.
Last night, May insisted that it was not within her power to make such a promise, as the only way to avoid a no deal scenario is to reach an agreement with the European Union or stop Brexit entirely.
In her letter to Corbyn, PM May also claimed that it would not be possible to extend the negotiating process of Article 50, as that would need the agreement of the bloc.
She stated: “You have always believed in the importance of dialogue in politics. Do you really believe that as well as declining to meet for talks yourself, it is right to ask your MPs not to seek a solution with the government?”
Last Tuesday, the Brexit deal of PM May was defeated by a record 230 votes in the Commons and after surviving a confidence vote a day after, the Prime Minister set out plans to hold discussions with opposition leaders.
Downing Street confirmed that the PM is holding on to her principles that any Brexit deal must see the United Kingdom having its own independent trade policy, therefore ruling out membership of a customs union with the bloc.
May has cancelled the scheduled trip to Davos next week as she tries to pull together a plan which would have the support of a majority of MPs.
As a response to her letter, a spokesperson for the Labour party dismissed the plea for discussions, stating: “The Prime Minister is in denial about the consequences of the scale of the defeat of her deal on Monday. To win support in parliament, any new deal must ditch her red lines.”
He added: “As opposition MPs who have met with the government today have discovered, the Prime Minister is not yet prepared for serious talks to find a way forward. The starting point for any talks must be that she commits to rule out no deal.”
PM May is set to inform the Commons of her ‘plan B’ on Monday. The MPs will get to vote on the proposal on the 29th of January.