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John McDonnell says he does not trust Theresa May after terms of potential Brexit deal emerge

3 min read

John McDonnell has said he cannot trust Theresa May and accused her of “acting in bad faith” after details of a potential Brexit compromise agreement surfaced.


The Shadow Chancellor said the Prime Minister had "undermined the confidence" of the opposition after plans to offer Labour a temporary customs union were reported from an anonymous source.

The Prime Minister has been locked in negotiations with Jeremy Corbyn’s team since last month in a bid to find a breakthrough, having failed to pass her agreement through the Commons on three occasions.

The Sunday Times reported that Mrs May is prepared to offer Labour a “comprehensive but temporary customs arrangement” with the EU that would last until the next general election in exchange for their backing.

When asked if he “trusts” Mrs May, Mr McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “No. Sorry, not after this weekend when she’s blown the confidentiality we had and I actually think she’s jeopardised the negotiations for her own personal protection.”

“The disappointing thing about this weekend is that we’ve maintained confidentiality because that’s what we were asked to do.

“We haven’t briefed the media, we’ve only commented when things are in the public so it’s disappointing that the Prime Minister has broken, and I think it is an act of bad faith actually to do it in this way."

Mr McDonnell added that there had been a "real discipline" in the meetings so far, which are due to resume on Tuesday, but said by “undermining” a relationship “you undermine the confidence” of the other side.

He added: “I fully understand now why she couldn’t negotiate a decent deal with our European partners, if she behaves in this way.”

According to the paper, Mrs May will also cave to Mr Corbyn’s demand for closer ties between Britain and the bloc on a wider range of EU single market regulations on goods and enshrine in law that the UK will mirror all legislation on workers’ rights, it is claimed.

The PM today penned a separate article in the Mail on Sunday calling on Jeremy Corbyn to “put their differences aside” and help ministers deliver a Brexit deal after both sides suffered losses at the local elections.

Elsewhere, Mr McDonnell added that he was not confident that any agreement reached would last because of Mrs May’s weak position.

"We're dealing with a very unstable government. It’s like trying to enter into a contract with a company that’s going into administration. We can’t negotiate like that," he said.

Meanwhile Labour deputy leader Tom Watson told the BBC’s Pienaar’s Politics that Labour “should not be in any doubt” that its members want a second EU referendum.

It came as Mr McDonnell insisted that party was “religiously” sticking to its conference position of pushing for another ballot if it fails to win a general election or to stop a “damaging” Brexit.

Mr Watson said: “It’s absolutely right that these talks continue but I don’t think we should be in any doubt that the Labour party membership and vast numbers of my colleagues in parliament don’t want us to just sign off on a Tory Brexit.

“They don’t want us to bail the Prime Minister out of the problem of her own making and a very large number of our members think the people should decide on what that deal looks like.”

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