May Seeks to End Brexit Talks With Labour Next Week
(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May’s government is planning one last big meeting with the U.K.’s main opposition Labour Party next week to try to reach a cross-party agreement on a plan for Brexit.
According to a person familiar with her thinking, the premier realizes British voters are calling for progress and she wants negotiations with Jeremy Corbyn’s party to reach a decisive conclusion by the middle of next week.
Officials from both sides are meeting this week, but a final crunch summit between senior ministers and their Labour counterparts is likely to be held on May 7 or 8 to establish if there’s any chance of success, the person said.
It’s a clear sign May’s patience with the initiative is wearing thin. The cross-party process started at the beginning of April after she failed for a third time to persuade the House of Commons to accept the divorce agreement she negotiated with the European Union. The premier is trying to get a deal approved in time to avoid holding European Parliament elections on May 23.
If May can reach an agreement with Labour, the government would then be able to introduce its Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is necessary to implement Brexit. If there’s no deal, May has said she’ll put different Brexit options to votes in Parliament to try to identify a solution.
Discussions with Labour have focused on the terms of Britain’s future relationship with the EU, including guarantees on workers’ rights, environmental standards and trading arrangements.
While both sides have described the talks as constructive and pointed to progress, Labour has criticized May for refusing to back away from her red lines. It wants her to accept a post-Brexit customs union with the EU, but she says rules out the U.K. being able to broker its own trade deals.
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