'Gaps' remain in cross-party talks on Brexit, Labour says

'Gaps' remain in cross-party talks on Brexit, Labour says
Copyright REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
By Emma BeswickAlasdair Sandford with Reuters
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"Gaps remain between Labour and the government. We have made clear that we cannot support the Brexit legislation without an agreement," a spokesman for the Labour party said on Wednesday.


Britain's two main parties, the Conservatives and the Labour Party, are holding cross-party talks in hopes of reaching an agreement that will allow British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal to pass through Parliament — but they are not there yet.

"Gaps remain between Labour and the government. We have made clear that we cannot support the Brexit legislation without an agreement," a spokesman for the Labour party said on Wednesday.

"We have serious concerns about negotiating with a government that is in the process of disintegrating."

The House of Commons has rejected May's divorce deal three times but has, as yet, been unable to agree on an alternative path. 

A spokesperson for May's office declined to say whether the prime minister would resign if her deal failed to pass again when brought back to the Commons in early June, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"We are focused on getting this legislation through," May's spokesperson said, adding that if it passed, it would mean the UK "can leave the EU by the summer". 

May's government will be seeking the "broadest possible majority" on the deal, they said: "The significance of the legislation cannot and will not be underestimated."

“There is an underappreciation that no deal can still happen,” Steven Barclay, May's Brexit minister, told the House of Lords on Wednesday. “If the House [of Commons] has not passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill then there are growing voices in Europe, not least the French, who want to move on to other issues.”

May's deal back before Parliament in early June

British Prime Minister Theresa May will bring her thrice-defeated Brexit deal back to Parliament for lawmakers to consider again in the week beginning June 3, Downing Street announced on Tuesday.

MPs will not hold a fourth vote on the Withdrawal Agreement itself, but on key legislation needed to put the UK's departure from the EU into effect.

"This evening, the prime minister met the leader of the opposition (Jeremy Corbyn) in the House of Commons to make clear our determination to bring the talks to a conclusion and deliver on the referendum result to leave the EU," the Downing Street spokesman said.

"We will, therefore, be bringing forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in the week beginning June 3."

Talks on Tuesday evening between May and leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn "were both useful and constructive", he added.

Britain will not pay for access to EU market after it has left the bloc

Theresa May also said on Wednesday that Britain would not pay for access to the European Union’s market after it has left the bloc. “In leaving the European Union we will end free movement, restore full control over our immigration policy, open up new trading opportunities around the world and end the days of sending vast payments to the European Union," she said during Prime Minister's Questions.

The move to bring the Brexit bill before parliament in early June is being seen as imposing an effective deadline on the discussions with the opposition. Labour is reportedly set to oppose the bill unless the talks bring agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement on the terms of the UK’s exit, and a Political Declaration outlining a framework for future ties had been negotiated by London and Brussels and approved by the 27 other EU governments.

The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48% in a June 2016 referendum. The result has increased strains between the UK's individual countries: England (53%) and Wales (52.5%) voted to leave, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland voted by 62% and 56% respectively to remain in the EU.



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