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Brexit update: UK’s May calls on Corbyn to rule out 2nd referendum

Anti-Brexit campaigners wave Union Flags, also known as Union Jacks, and European Union (EU) flags near Parliament in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Both Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn found themselves under fire as British lawmakers prepared to return to work this week. Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

By BLOOMBERG

LONDON • Theresa May takes the first Prime Minister’s Questions since Parliament returned; Brexit tops the agenda. Later, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab updates lawmakers on the progress of talks with the European Union (EU).

Germany: ‘Prepared for Anything’ on Brexit
“To be prepared for all outcomes, preparations must continue for a still-possible no-deal scenario,” spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said at regular briefing in Berlin. “We are of course prepared for anything.”

Demmer reiterates that time is pressing and that a no-deal outcome would not be in the interests of either side.

Rees-Mogg: Carney Should Step Down as Planned
Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said on LBC radio that speculation about Bank of England (BoE) governor Mark Carney’s future was demeaning for the role, and called on him to leave on his scheduled departure date in June 2019.

“Playing ducks and drakes with the period of office as governor of the BoE is rather demeaning,” said Rees-Mogg, a long-standing critic of the governor. “He should go.”

Carney’s Future at BoE Gets Mixed Reactions From UKLawmakers
Rees-Mogg, a pro-Brexit lawmaker who regularly clashed with Carney during his time on Parliament’s Treasury Committee, last month called him the “high priest of project fear” — the phrase used by eurosceptics to deride what they see as scaremongering by their pro-EU opponents.

Meanwhile, John McDonnell, the Opposition Labour Party’s Treasury spokesman, told Bloomberg yesterday that he would welcome the Canadian staying longer.

Lidington: Deal with EU 85% Agreed
David Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, said during a visit to Poland that an agreement with the EU is 85% completed— with the Ireland border the last outstanding issue to be resolved.

May and her Cabinet remain “very committed” to the Brexit proposal thrashed out her Chequers countryside retreat in July, he said. The plan has come under fire in recent weeks, especially from Brexit hardliners who want a more definitive split from the bloc.

“The great majority of Conservative MPs want this sorted, they want a good deal with EU,” Lidington said in an interview.

“What we need now is for EU to continue discussions with us on Chequers, and if there are some bits they don’t like, what is the counter proposal? If they do like it, fine, let’s agree on that.”

May Calls on Corbyn to Rule Out 2nd Vote
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main Opposition Labour party, immediately went on the attack over Brexit. May went on the counter-offensive and repeated that a second referendum is out of the question on her watch, and challenged her rival to also take it off the table — twice. Corbyn did not rise to the bait.

May also paired the referendum issue with the accusations of antisemitism that have dogged the Labour party — clearly seeing Brexit as a wedge issue to exploit Labour’s divisions.

Given Labour’s ever-evolving position on leaving the EU, any shift on this would be extremely significant. Corbyn seems to be keeping his options open.