Cross-party Brexit talks end without agreement

Clay Curtis
May 21, 2019

While both sides insisted the discussions had taken place in good faith, Prime Minister Theresa May said that a key sticking point had been Labour splits over a second referendum, while the opposition said that May's imminent departure from Downing Street meant that there was no guarantee any promises would be kept by her successor.

However, yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of saying they would vote against, saying only they "won't support it" unless it met their demands.

The deal has been rejected three times by the House of Commons, forcing May to delay Brexit twice - while also postponing her own departure.

Parliament usually returns in the second week of October, less than four weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU. May will put the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, legislation required to enact the exit deal, to a vote in parliament in early June.

"When MPs come to vote on the bill they will be faced with a stark choice: that is to vote to ... deliver Brexit, or to shy away again from delivering Brexit with all the uncertainty that that would leave."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in Bristol Friday, campaigning for her Conservative Party ahead of next weekend's European Parliament elections.

However, the party leadership appears to be split on what course to take.

In a joint statement after the crucial meeting, Graham Brady, Chair of the 1922 Committee, said: "The Prime Minister is determined to secure our departure from the European Union and is devoting her efforts to securing the 2nd Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week commencing 3 June 2019 and the passage of that Bill and the outcome departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union by the summer". These combined with Theresa May's now-infamous lack of self-awareness have left Conservative MPs, activist and supporters exasperated.

Boris Johnson, the face of the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, said he would be standing as a candidate to replace May as Conservative leader.

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Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told to the Lords EU select committee yesterday the vote could mark the death of Theresa May's Brexit deal.

"It remains the only plan that the European Union has signed up to and there's no indication that it will want to renegotiate any of it with a new PM", he said.

May's 10 Downing St. office said Brady spoke with the prime minister's agreement, and insisted May remained focused "on securing our departure from the EU" by getting backing for her European Union divorce deal.

Corbyn said the Tory leadership race was "eroding" what little authority the government has and that Labour will vote against the prime minister's draft withdrawal agreement if it remains unchanged.

But it is far from clear how May intends to proceed.

According to the document seen by the London Evening Standard newspaper, lawmakers would rank them in order of preference, with the least popular ones knocked out in elimination rounds until a winning plan emerges. May has publicly opposed holding a second public vote.

Brexiteers said there was no prospect of Mrs May averting a "significant" rebellion by tacking towards them on totemic issues like the Irish backstop and free trade.

The pound sank to $1.275, its lowest level since mid-January.

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