PM clings on to hope of compromise deal as Brexit looms

Theresa May has said she agrees with the Labour Party on certain aspects of Brexit, but time is running out for the prime minister to reach a compromise deal ahead of a summit with European leaders this week.

Mrs May has angered Tories by holding talks with Jeremy Corbyn, with Brexiteers including Boris Johnson concerned she will accept a customs union as the price for a deal with the leader of the Opposition.

Mrs May has told European Union leaders she wants a delay to Brexit until 30 June at the latest, with the possibility of an early exit if she can get a deal through parliament.

But Brussels is expected to demand a clear strategy from Mrs May at a meeting of EU leaders on Wednesday and could insist on a longer delay which would require the UK to participate in European elections.

In a video message recorded in her Chequers country retreat on Sunday, Mrs May said both sides will have to compromise in the cross-party talks with Labour.

Despite Labour accusing ministers on Friday of failing to offer real change or compromise during talks to end the stalemate, Mrs May said the government and opposition agreed on “ending free movement, ensuring we leave with a good deal, protecting jobs, protecting security”.

© Getty Jeremy Corbyn is due to meet Sinn Fein leaders this afternoon”And so we are talking,” she said during the video. “Can we find a way through this that ensures that we can get a good deal and a deal agreed through parliament?

“I believe that delivering Brexit is the most important thing for us.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leaders are due to hold Brexit talks with Mr Corbyn, as president Mary Lou McDonald and vice-president Michelle O’Neill are also set for discussions with Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley.

Mrs McDonald had said she will tell Mr Corbyn that Irish interests must be protected whatever the outcome of his Brexit negotiations with the prime minister.

The Labour leader is due to meet the republican leaders this afternoon.

“We will set out again the very clear need to protect Irish interests and make it very, very clear that whatever way Brexit lands, deal or no deal, that Irish interests have to be protected,” said Mrs McDonald.

“Our peace process, our all-Ireland economy, crucially our citizens’ rights, cannot be the collateral damage to the Tory Brexit.”

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will also hold talks with Leo Varadkar in Ireland today ahead of Wednesday’s summit in Brussels.

Mr Barnier will discuss the latest developments with the Taoiseach in Dublin later.

Britain was due to leave the EU on 29 March, but Mrs May asked Brussels for a delay to Brexit after her deal was defeated three times by MPs.

The new deadline is 12 April, although the PM now wants to push it back to 30 June at the latest, with an option to leave before then if an agreement is passed by parliament.

The current default position is that the UK will crash out of the European Union at 11pm on Friday without a deal unless an extension is granted.


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