The Prime Minister warned last night that the longer it takes to find a compromise with the opposition Labour Party to secure a parliamentary majority for a Brexit deal, the less likely it is that Britain will leave the EU. Mrs May has a plan to enshrine in law a customs arrangement with the EU and her aides have discussed offering the opposition a place in the British delegation to Wednesday’s EU summit, according to the Sunday Times. A customs union makes it easier for member states to trade with each other, without imposing tariffs (taxes on imports) on each other’s goods or imposing common external tariffs on goods from countries outside their customs union.
The latest development comes after Mrs May has been unable to secure backing from the Commons for her withdrawal agreement with Brussels, even though this move could anger some Conservative members further and cause more a deeper party split.
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU at 11pm on Friday, so now she has turned to the opposition Labour Party as time is running out.
But leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday he was waiting for Mrs May to move her Brexit red lines.
Mrs May said in a statement released by her Downing Street office: “The fact is that on Brexit there are areas where the two main parties agree: we both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs.
“That is the basis for a compromise that can win a majority in Parliament and winning that majority is the only way to deliver Brexit.
“The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all.”
The Prime Minister has also asked EU leaders to postpone Brexit until June 30.
However, the EU responded she must first show a viable plan to secure agreement on her deal, after giving her a two-week extension the last time she asked.
Follow our live blog for updates on the latest Brexit developments.
11.20am update: Further cross-party negotiations planned following “disappointing” talks
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey also appeared on the Andrew Marr Show, as she is one of the Labour team in the cross-party talks.
Ms Long Bailey said: “The overall mood is quite a positive and hopeful one.
“The sad thing is at the moment we haven’t seen overall any real changes to the deal, but we are hopeful that will change in coming days and we are willing to continue the talks as we know the Government are.”
She added the teams were “keeping our diaries as free as possible” and “we have had exchanges with the Government over the weekend, clarifying our position. They have been setting out theirs and hopefully at the beginning of next week we will be having further discussions”.
“But we are currently waiting for the Government to come back to us now to state whether they are prepared to move on any of their red lines,” she said.
“We had great discussions and we went into a lot of technical detail but so far we haven’t seen anything from Government that would suggest they are prepared to change any part of the deal going forward.”
10.49am update: May warned Brexit is slipping away forever
House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said through gritted teeth on the Andrew Marr Show this morning that Mrs May is going to have to listen to Labour leadership.
She said that provided the UK is leaving the EU, it is important for the Prime Minister to compromise and deliver Brexit, otherwise it could slip away forever.
When she was challenged on whether she could accept the UK remaining in a customs union with Brussels, Ms Leadsom said: “There are various different types of arrangement and those discussions are still ongoing.
“For me, whatever we deliver, it has to be Brexit.”
She added the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels had a “customs arrangement” in it aimed at tariff-free trade.
“My expectation – and I’m not party to the discussions – is that the Prime Minister will only seek to agree those things that still constitute Brexit.”
Asked if a customs union constituted Brexit, Ms Leadsom said: “It depends on what that means. There is a customs arrangement in the Prime Minister’s deal which I have supported every time.”