Brexit talks at risk because Tories want Trump trade deal, says Jeremy Corbyn
Conservative ambitions for a US trade deal are stifling talks between the UK Government and Labour, Jeremy Corbyn suggests
Jeremy Corbyn - Mark McLaughlin/Holyrood
Brexit talks between Labour and the Government are at risk because Conserative MPs want "to do a deal" with US President Donald Trump, Jeremy Corbyn has claimed.
The Labour leader said ministers had given little ground in talks between the two parties so far, as he accused the Government of "dithering" over its Brexit strategy.
Ministers and Labour frontbenchers have been holding talks for the past two weeks aimed at finding a compromise Brexit agreement that can get through the House of Commons, which has rejected Theresa May's own deal three times.
Corbyn has been pushing May to ditch her longstanding opposition to membership of a customs union with the European Union - a move that would break a key Conservative party 2017 manifesto pledge and provoke fury from many of her own MPs.
The Prime Minister raised hopes of a breakthrough last week by saying there was "more agreement" between the two sides on a customs union than was often acknowledged, while Labour's John McDonnell described the last round of discussions as "hopeful" and "positive".
But, speaking on a campaign visit to the North East, Corbyn accused ministers of failing to shift because of Conservative fears a customs union would rule out a future trade deal with the United States.
"The Government doesn’t appear to be shifting the red lines because they’ve got a big pressure in the Tory party that actually wants to turn this country into a deregulated low-tax society which will do a deal with Trump," he said.
"I don’t want to do that."
The Labour leader added: "We’ve lost a lot of time by the dithering of the Government on bringing issues to Parliament."
May has promised to let MPs hold a fresh series of indicative votes on possible Brexit options if the two sides fail to reach agreement, although the precise nature of that exercise has yet to be announced.
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