PM’s charm offensive… on LABOUR: Theresa May woos rival MPs in bid to secure Brexit plan – as Brussels hints chance of a deal is ‘increasing’
- PM Theresa May is wooing Labour MPs to support a deal to leave the EU
- Hard-line Tory Brexiteers are plotting to oppose any deal on the customs union
- Labour will vote against any deal which does not pass its six post Brexit tests
- Mrs May hopes Labour MPs in Brexit areas will rebel against the party’s whip
Theresa May has been wooing Labour MPs in an effort to gain their support for her Brexit plan.
Senior Tories have been making secret contact to Labour MPs sympathetic to Brexit hoping them to defy Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to collapse the government and force a general election.
Mrs May’s closest advisers realise that it is likely hardline Brexiteers in her own party will vote against any deal she brings back from Brussels if it requires Britain to remain in the Customs Union.
Theresa May wants to secure the support of a group of Labour MPs to help pass any Brexit deals she secures from Brussels as she can no longer rely on her own divided party
A group of Brexit hardliners within the Tory party, such as Jacob Ress-Mogg, pictured, have threatened to vote against her deal – especially if it involves Britain remaining within the customs union
Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer, left, have told the Prime Minister that any deal will need to pass six tests in order to support the plan
Also, the future of the Irish border could jeopardise the support of the ten DUP MPs, whose leader Arlene Foster described the issue as a ‘blood red line’ for her party.
According to The Guardian, one Tory source said securing a deal with Brussels which will be acceptable to both sides of her party is akin to ‘landing a jumbo jet on the penalty spot’.
The Labour Party officially claims it will vote against any deal which does not meet its six tests – although up to 15 MPs are expected to defy Jeremy Corbyn. Up to 30 could consider abstaining to avoid accusations that they are ‘blocking Brexit’.
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Officials in Brussels have indicated the chances of a deal with Britain over their exit of the European Union have increased, despite last month’s disastrous summit in Salzburg.
Tories loyal to Mrs May have warned that any attempt to topple her and install a hard-line Brexiteer in Number 10 would end in ‘collapse and disarray’.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker sounded an upbeat note as he signalled a deal could be hammered out in time for a crunch EU summit in less than two weeks’ time.
Both Theresa May, left, and Jeremy Corybn, right are facing Brexit rebellions in their respective parties, with hard-liners on both sides expect to defy the three-line whip
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker, pictured, has suggested a deal with Britain over Brexit could be agreed within a fortnight, although senior Tories have said the chance of it uniting the opposing wings of the party is akin to ‘landing a jumbo jet on a penalty spot’
As negotiations reached a frantic final phase, Irish government sources suggested an agreement on the crucial border issue was ‘very close’.
Mr Juncker struck an unusually positive note when asked if a deal could be made, telling Austrian media: ‘I have reason to think that the rapprochement potential between both sides has increased in recent days.’
The remarks raised hopes of a deal at an EU summit on October 17, or at another gathering slated for November.
Labour’s six tests for any Brexit Deal
Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?
Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?
Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities?
Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom?
Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime?
Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK?
The comments came as Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan insisted Tory MPs seeking to oust the Prime Minister represented a fringe element.
Warning against a move to replace the PM, Sir Alan told the BBC: ‘Don’t believe all those things you read in the newspapers and take it that there are a lot of numbers behind the noise.
‘And that’s where you need to apply a lot of political judgment to work out whether the complainers are just a fringe, or whether they represent the main body of opinion in the middle.
‘The main body of opinion in the middle and right to the edges is absolutely solidly behind her.
‘Because the idea that we can go for anybody else at the moment is just folly.
‘It would lead to collapse and disarray.
‘It’s not a credible option.’
As talks intensified, Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney accused leading arch-Brexiteers of peddling ‘crazy’ ideas about the impact of a no-deal withdrawal.
Mr Coveney’s rebuke came as Dublin urged Mrs May to bring forward her proposals to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks over the Northern Ireland border.
When it was put to him that Brexiteers believe the Republic would not erect a border in a no-deal scenario, Mr Coveney told Channel 4 News: ‘That is a crazy argument.’
Meanwhile, prominent pro-Europe Labour MP Chris Bryant insisted he had not been involved in talks with the Government on backing a deal after reports Downing Street had launched a ‘charm offensive’ to try and win opposition support for Mrs May’s stance.
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