Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May made the opposition Labour party’s failure to find a “common position” on Britain leaving the European Union responsible for the collapse of talks between the two parties.
May said she agreed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that the two sides, who held six weeks of talks, had made progress on how to implement Britain’s decision to leave the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
“There have been areas where we have been able to find common ground,” she told a Conservative campaign event in the city of Bristol. “But other issues have proved to be more difficult,” May said.
“And, in particular, we haven’t been able to overcome the fact that there isn’t a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit or hold a second referendum which could reverse it.”
Corbyn said earlier that the talks had “gone as far as they can.”
“While there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us,” he said in an open letter to May.
“Even more crucially, the increasing weakness and instability of your government means there cannot be confidence in securing whatever might be agreed between us,” Corbyn said.
On Thursday, May agreed to set a timetable to step down as Conservative leader once lawmakers have voted early next month on her Brexit agreement with Brussels, after Eurosceptics in the party had urged her to announce her resignation date this week.
Corbyn said his party will “carefully consider any proposals the government wishes to bring forward to break the Brexit deadlock.”
“However, I should reiterate that, without significant changes, we will continue to oppose the government’s deal as we do not believe it safeguards jobs, living standards and manufacturing industry in Britain,” he wrote.
May opened formal talks with Labour after lawmakers had voted against her Brexit deal, negotiated with Brussels, three times.
Both parties are divided over Brexit and many of their lawmakers had opposed the talks.
“Many of us did question the judgement of the Cabinet when they approved those talks,” Conservative lawmaker Priti Patel tweeted yesterday, replying to a suggestion that they had been “a complete waste of time from the outset.”
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, who is campaigning against Brexit and for a second referendum, said the talks were undermined from the beginning by “the weakness of the government and the vacillation of the Labour party.”
“Remain voters will not be fooled by Corbyn walking out now,” Cable tweeted. “He still wants Brexit to happen.”
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage also criticised Labour, from the opposite pole of the Brexit debate. Farage said Labour was “now almost entirely a second referendum party.”
“Worse still, it wants a ‘confirmatory vote’ that would not put a genuine leave option on the ballot paper,” he tweeted.
The Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats are expected to benefit from a forecast slump in support for the Conservatives, in particular, and Labour in Britain’s elections to the European Parliament next week.
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