Theresa May says Brexit deal must be passed by summer as talks with Labour drag on

Posted On: 
14th May 2019

Theresa May has said that MPs must pass the Brexit deal before their summer holidays - as the Government's talks with Labour drag on.

Theresa May wants Parliament to pass the Brexit deal by the summer.
Credit: 
PA Images

Downing Street said it was now "imperative" that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - the legislation needed to take the UK out of the European Union - must be on the statute books before the Commons rises at the end of July.

That will increase speculation that that is the date when Mrs May plans to leave Number 10 for good in order to hand over to her successor.

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She is under pressure to outline the timetable for her resignation when she meets the ruling executive of the Tory 1922 Committee on Thursday.

The long-running negotiations between Labour and Tory frontbenchers aimed at agreeing a compromise Brexit deal broke up on Monday night with no sign of an imminent breakthrough.

A two-hour discussion on Brexit at Cabinet on Tuesday heard what areas the Prime Minister is willing to compromise on in the hope of securing Labour's backing.

Mrs May's spokesman said: "Cabinet agreed to continue discussions with Labour to see what was possible. However, it was agreed that it is imperative to bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in time for it to receive Royal Assent by the summer parliamentary recess."

He added: "There is a very clear understanding within Cabinet and government that the public really do want their elected representatives to get on with delivering the result of a referendum that took place three years ago."

However, the spokesman refused to say whether Cabinet had unanimously backed the Prime Minister's approach, which is thought to include a temporary customs arrangement which would see the UK agree to sign up to European trading rules after Brexit.

That is aimed at meeting Labour halfway on their demand for a permanent customs union.

However, senior Tories - including former Cabinet ministers Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab - have written to Mrs May demanding that she reject Labour's idea.

Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell - who has been part of Labour's negotiating team - painted a gloomy picture of how the talks are going.

Speaking in London, he said: "The situation we are now in is that we’ve been at this five weeks, we haven’t seen the significant shift yet that we require to be able to support the deal.

"We want a permanent comprehensive customs union, we want an alignment with the single market... we want to protect workers' rights.

He added: "The customs union is absolutely key to us. I won’t go into the detail of what we’ve been offered, but we’re not near what we want.

"However we then get a letter signed by a number of senior Conservatives this morning, Boris Johnson - very likely to be the next leader, he could well be the Prime Minister literally in months - and the situation where he in his letter says he’s not going to accept a customs union and actually he will overturn the deal that we negotiate.

"It gives us no security and we expect a response from the Government on that. 

"We’ve tried to do what’s in the best interest of the country. We think we’ve compromised in some areas, I won’t go into the detail. We don’t think there’s a deal yet... but our big problem now is if we’re going to march our troops in Parliament to the top of the hill to vote for a deal and then that’s overturned literally in weeks I think that would be a cataclysmic act of bad faith."