Brexit talks between the UK Government and Labour collapse without a deal

Written by Kevin Schofield on 17 May 2019 in News

A joint approach to Brexit could not be reached in talks betwen Labour and the Conservatives

Image credit: PA

Talks between the UK Government and Labour aimed at agreeing a joint approach to Brexit are to break up without a deal.

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed "increasing weakness and instability" in the UK Government meant the talks could not continue.

Senior Labour sources said on Thursday they were not going to walk away "imminently" - leaving the door open to the party pulling the plug at some point in the next few days.

MPs are now likely to be given a series of so-called "indicative votes" on different Brexit options in the hope of securing a Commons majority for one of them.

Numerous meetings have taken place between officials and senior frontbenchers on both sides over the past six weeks, but major differences remain.

In particular, the government refused to agree to Labour's demand for a permanent post-Brexit customs union with the EU.

Theresa May has also rejected calls for a so-called "confirmatory ballot", effectively a second referendum, to be held on a final Brexit deal.

Labour negotiators had also insisted that any deal agreed with the government - which they also wanted to contain guarantees on workers' rights and environmental standards - must contain provisions preventing a future Tory leader from being able to tear them up.

Meanwhile, BBC Newsnight's Nick Watt also reported that Tory whips believed a deal with Labour was not possible.

The chances of a deal diminished further when May announced that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) will be voted on by MPs in the first week of June regardless of whether an agreement with Labour has been reached.

May has also agreed to begin the countdown towards her departure from Downing Street following talks with senior Tory MPs.

The Prime Minister will sit down with Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, following the WAB vote.

A number of Tory MPs have already confirmed they will join the race to succeed May, including Boris Johnson and Esther McVey.

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