Jeremy Corbyn accuses Theresa May of Brexit 'stunt' in row over compromise talks

Posted On: 
17th January 2019

Jeremy Corbyn today accused Theresa May of a political "stunt" after she reached out to him on Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn addressed Labour activists in Hastings today
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader lashed out at the Prime Minister after she invited opposition parties for talks in Downing Street to find a solution to the parliamentary deadlock.

The offer came after the Brexit deal she clinched with Brussels suffered a thumping defeat in the Commons on Tuesday, with some 320 MPs voting to reject it.

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But she bounced back by winning a vote of confidence last night - and chose that moment to reach out to warring MPs to come to a consensus on the way forward.

Other senior MPs have met with the Prime Minister already, but Mr Corbyn has refused to take part in talks unless the Government rules out Britain leaving the bloc without a deal.

At a speech in Hastings today he doubled down on his red line and attacked Mrs May over what he branded a “phoney” attempt to build a compromise.

“Last night’s offer of talks with party leaders turned out to be simply a stunt, not the serious attempt to engage with the new reality that’s needed,” he told Labour activists in the seaside town.

“No sooner had she said the words in parliament than the Government confirmed that she would not take No Deal off the table.

“So I say to the Prime Minister again: I am quite happy to talk. But the starting point for any talks about Brexit must be that the threat of a disastrous no deal outcome is ruled out.”

He said keeping a no-deal Brexit on the table was an attempt to “blackmail MPs to vote through her botched deal on a second attempt”.

The Labour leader also wrote to his counterpart urging her to back down and warning that quitting the EU without a plan in place would be “a reckless leap in the dark”.

'DOOR REMAINS OPEN'

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “The PM set out last night she was disappointed with the response of the leader of the opposition but that our door remained open and that is still the case.”

He added: “I would expect the PM to have meetings with Labour MPs during the course of today.”

And he said: “We expected people to come with their own views and ideas and these are going to be discussed.

“Clearly there are some areas that we’re not going to agree on, but the very purpose of the meetings is to find some consensus where there is a way forward.”

Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister was not willing to drop the threat of no-deal, consider keeping the UK in the customs union or extending Article 50. The spokesman said: "The way to take no-deal off the table is to agree a deal."

OPPOSITION ROW

Meanwhile, other opposition parties which had already agreed to meet Mrs May turned on Mr Corbyn for his refusal to take part in the discussions.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable joined Plaid Cymru in telling Mr Corbyn that its MPs would not support any further no-confidence motions in the Government - after Labour suggested it could table more.

Labour figures also criticised the decision by the Labour boss, with former PM Tony Blair and prominent backbencher Chuka Umunna urging him to change tack.