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Sat, 31 October 2020

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Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May to lead 'intensive' day of talks in bid to strike Brexit deal

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May to lead 'intensive' day of talks in bid to strike Brexit deal
3 min read

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will lead a day of "intensive" talks aimed at thrashing out a Brexit deal to present to MPs.

The Prime Minister and Labour leader met for two hours of initial talks on Wednesday afternoon as attempts to break the Brexit deadlock continue.

In a sign of how seriously Downing Street is taking the negotiations, Olly Robbins - Mrs May's top Brexit adviser - was present along with senior Tory and Labour frontbenchers.

Both sides will form negotiating teams, and they will spend the whole of Thursday seeking common ground which could form the basis of an agreement.

The Tory negotiators will be David Lidington, Steve Barclay, Julian Smith and Gavin Barwell, while for Labour it will be Keir Starmer, Nick Brown and Rebecca Long-Bailey.

It is understood that a potential deal could be reached on a permanent customs union with the EU - a key Labour demand and something Theresa May has previously insisted she would not agree to.

Mr Corbyn is also coming under huge pressure to push for another EU referendum to be held on any deal backed by the Commons.

However, a Labour spokesman insisted the party only wanted to hold another public vote "to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a no-deal outcome".

Both Labour and the Government could also agree that any Brexit deal must ensure the end of freedom of movement.

Following Wednesday's initial talks, a Downing Street spokesman said: "Today’s talks were constructive, with both sides showing flexibility and a commitment to bring the current Brexit uncertainty to a close.  We have agreed a programme of work to ensure we deliver for the British people, protecting jobs and security.”

Speaking after meeting with Theresa May in Parliament this afternoon, Jeremy Corbyn said: “There hasn’t been as much change as I expected but we will have further discussions tomorrow to explore technical issues.

“I put forward the view from the Labour Party that we want to achieve a customs union with the EU, access to the Single Market and dynamic regulatory alignment, that is a guarantee of European regulations as a minimum on the environment, consumer and workers’ rights.

"I also raised the option of a public vote to prevent crashing out or leaving on a bad deal.”

A Labour spokesperson said: "We have had constructive exploratory discussions about how to break the Brexit deadlock.

"We have agreed a programme of work between our teams to explore the scope for agreement."

Meanwhile, plans for MPs to have a fresh round of so-called 'indicative votes' on alternatives to Theresa May's Brexit deal have been blocked by John Bercow following a dramatic Commons tie.

Labour MP Hilary Benn had proposed a motion which would have seen Parliament once again seize control of Commons business for the votes to take place on Monday.

But the vote on Mr Benn's motion was tied 310 to 310, meaning the Speaker had the casting vote.

He told MPs: "In accordance with principle, and on the principle that important decisions should not be taken except by a majority, I cast my vote with the Noes."

That meant Mr Benn's motion was defeated by 311 to 310.



It was the first time since 1993 that a Speaker has had to use his casting vote. The last occasion was on the Maastricht bill, when then Speaker Betty Boothroyd also cast her vote with the Government.


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