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Brexit talks on verge of collapse as Labour says Theresa May has not offered 'real change or compromise'

Brexit talks on verge of collapse as Labour says Theresa May has not offered 'real change or compromise'
3 min read

Cross-party Brexit talks have hit a wall as Labour accused Theresa May of failing to offer "real change or compromise".

The Government and Opposition have been locked in negotiations this week after the Prime Minister made a plea for "national unity" following three defeats of her Brexit deal.

But a Labour spokesperson said on Friday evening: "We are disappointed that the Government has not offered real change or compromise.

“We urge the Prime Minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal in an effort to find an alternative that can win support in Parliament and bring the country together."

Speaking after the latest round of talks, Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer accused Mrs May of refusing to consider "any changes" to the wording of the Brexit political declaration, which sets out goals for talks on Britain's post-EU relationship with Brussels.

The Labour frontbencher said: "Well, we’ve had two rounds of talks and today we’ve had an exchange of correspondence with the Government.

"So far, the Government isn’t proposing any changes to the deal. In particular it’s not countenancing any changes to the actual wording of the political declaration.

"Now obviously that’s disappointing; compromise requires change. We want the talks to continue and we’ve written in those terms to the Government, but we do need change if we’re going to compromise."

A Labour source familiar with the talks told PoliticsHome that they would would not characterise the discussions as having collapsed - and would not rule out further talks taking place. But they argued that the onus was now on Mrs May to come up with compromises.

Labour has said that any deal should involve a permanent customs union with the EU - something the Prime Minister has consistently ruled out.

Mr Corbyn is also under pressure from many of his own frontbenchers to insist that any deal be put to the public in a second EU referendum.

Downing Street insisted the Government was willing to compromise in order to get a deal.

A spokesman said: "We have made serious proposals in talks this week, and are prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that is acceptable to both sides. 

"We are ready to hold further detailed discussions this weekend in order to seek any such changes in the run up to European Council on Wednesday. The Government is determined to work constructively to deliver the Brexit people voted for, and avoid participation in the European Parliamentary elections."

Theresa May announced on Tuesday that she wanted the Labour leader's help to come up with a deal that the majority of MPs could support.

The pair held initial discussions on Wednesday, but Mr Corbyn said afterwards "there hasn’t been as much change as I expected" in the Prime Minister's position.

Mrs May's spokesman said on Thursday: "Both parties will need to engage constructively and in a spirit of compromise if this is to be successful."

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