U.K. Labour's McDonnell Says He Can't Trust May: Brexit Update

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In the wake of voters rejecting both main parties in Britain’s local elections, Theresa May is urging the opposition Labour Party to sit down with her and agree on a Brexit deal. But Labour’s John McDonnell has said that leaks of what she plans to offer in the talks show she’s not acting in good faith, which means he no longer trusts the prime minister to negotiate honestly.

Key Developments:

  • May tells Corbyn: “let’s listen to what the voters said in the elections and put our differences aside for a moment. Let’s do a deal”
  • McDonnell says he doesn’t trust May or her party
  • Senior Tories argue the parties are closer than people realize
  • Sunday Times reports government offering Labour a customs union until 2022
  • Labour Health Spokesman Jonathan Ashworth on election performance: “We should be doing better”
  • Some Labour MPs call for the party to insist on a referendum

McDonnell: I Don’t Trust May or Her Party (11.15 a.m.)

John McDonnell, Labour’s Treasury spokesman, has been pouring cold water on the idea that the Brexit talks are close to success. He told the BBC that weekend leaks of what May was going to offer Labour next week represent “bad faith” -- the talks are supposed to be confidential, he said. Asked if he trusted her, he replied: “No. Not after this weekend. She’s jeopardized the negotiations for her own personal protection.”

He compared negotiating with the Conservatives with “trying to go into a contract with a party that’s going into administration” because of the risk that any deal will be ripped up by whoever succeeds May. On the question of a second referendum, he stayed carefully on the fence about whether Labour would insist on one, but said both parties “have to recognize there are a large number of MPs who want a public vote, so we have to talk about it.”

Davidson: Parties Aren’t Far Apart on Brexit (11 a.m.)

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that on Brexit, the “positions of both parties aren’t far apart.” Earlier, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart told Sky that “we agree on 99 percent of this stuff.” This looks like an olive branch from the Tories, who have previously argued that Labour’s Brexit position wouldn’t be Brexit at all.

Stewart: Cross-Party Deal Offers Brexit Stability (10:30 a.m.)

Rory Stewart, the newly promoted International Development Secretary, gave a frank interview to Sky in which he said he would run to succeed Theresa May when she steps down, and warned his party that it has to move back toward the political center. He also said that agreeing to a Brexit deal with Labour was preferable to pushing through a Conservative-only deal. “If we can get a cross-party deal, there’s a possibility it would be more sustainable,” he said. “When a government changes, we’re not going to have Brexit suddenly turned on its head.”

He was also dismissive of the idea that replacing May would suddenly resolve Brexit: “If George Clooney became prime minister, I don’t think he’d be able to charm his way through this problem.”

Labour Split on Brexit Response (9.30 a.m.)

Even if the Labour leadership is moving toward a Brexit deal, it doesn’t mean Labour members of parliament will support it. Bridget Phillipson, the Labour MP who represents Sunderland, a pro-Brexit heartland, told Sky that she opposes an accord being “stitched up” by the leaders, and wants a second referendum. “We’ve reached a point where that deal has to go back to the British people,” she told Sky. “I speak to an increasing number of people who are really concerned about the direction the country is headed in, and they want to have their say.”

Labour’s Ashworth: ‘We Should Be Doing Better’ (9.15 a.m.)

Labour Health Spokesman Jonathan Ashworth has acknowledged to Sky News that the local election result was poor for his party. “We should be doing better,” he said. “I can’t pretend I’m not disappointed.” He avoided the question of whether Labour could compromise with the Conservatives, or whether it would insist on a referendum as its price for a deal.

May to Corbyn: ‘Let’s Do A Deal’ (9 a.m.)

Writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, May has interpreted Thursday’s local elections, which were disastrous for her Conservative Party and merely very bad for Corbyn’s Labour Party, as an instruction to deliver Brexit.

She wrote: “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.”

“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. Because the real thing that matters now is delivering Brexit and moving on to all the other issues people care about.”

The Sunday Times reported that May will make a “big, bold” offer to Labour on Tuesday, proposing the U.K. stays in a customs union until the next general election in 2022, at which point the rival parties could set out their own offers to the voters.

Also in the Sunday Times, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has made his big pitch for the party leadership, in a joint magazine interview with his wife. He calls for the Tories to cut income tax.


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