May tells Labour: ‘Let’s do a deal’


LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday urged main Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to work with her to break the Brexit deadlock, telling him “Let’s do a deal”.

May said she understood why hardcore Brexiteers in her own centre right Conservative Party, who want a clean break with the European Union (EU), would wince at the prospect of striking a softer agreement with the veteran socialist.

But she insisted the clobbering both main parties took in last week’s English local elections had increased the necessity of finding an EU divorce deal that a majority of MPs could get behind, even if many of her own backbenchers were not among them.

“To the leader of the Opposition, I say this: Let’s listen to what the voters said in the elections and put our differences aside for a moment. Let’s do a deal,” she wrote in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

May negotiated a withdrawal agreement with Brussels last year, but MPs repeatedly voted it down, with large numbers of her own Conservative backbenchers against it.

“Regrettably, I have to accept there is no sign of that position changing,” May wrote.

Had a withdrawal agreement been signed off, Britain would have left the EU on March 29. Its exit date has twice been postponed and is now set at Oct 31.

“The government has been in talks with the Opposition to try to find a unified, cross-party position,” May said.

“Many of my colleagues find this decision uncomfortable. Frankly, it is not what I wanted, either.

“But we have to find a way to break the deadlock — and I believe the results of the local elections give fresh urgency to this.

“We will keep negotiating, and keep trying to find a way through.

“The longer that takes, the greater the risk we will not leave at all. We need to get out of the EU and get a deal over the line.”

The Sunday Times newspaper claimed that the government was prepared to give way to Labour on three areas: Customs, goods alignment and workers’ rights. — AFP