Brexit: Theresa May meeting MPs ‘to seek consensus’

Theresa May is meeting MPs to seek a way forward for Brexit, after her slim victory in the no-confidence vote.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is not taking part, calling the talks a “stunt” and demanding Mrs May first rules out “the threat of a disastrous no deal” Brexit.

The PM saw off a bid to remove her government from power but her Brexit plan was heavily rejected by MPs.

She will publish a new plan on Monday with a full debate and key vote scheduled for Tuesday, 29 January.

Speaking outside Downing Street after talks on Wednesday night with the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru, Mrs May called on MPs to “put self-interest aside”.

“It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done,” she said.

Who is the PM meeting?

The prime minister is holding meetings with both Tory Brexiteers and the DUP – both of whom rejected her withdrawal deal earlier this week – on Thursday.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay are also holding talks with senior opposition politicians.

So far, Mrs May has met with:

  • Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader
  • Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader
  • Sir Vince Cable, Lib Dem leader
  • Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s only MP
  • Tory Brexiteer Nigel Evans
  • Nigel Dodds, DUP Westminster leader
  • Arlene Foster, DUP leader

And ministers and senior Tories have been arriving at Downing Street to continue talks with parliamentarians and MPs from other parties, including:

  • Tory colleagues Owen Paterson, Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, Mark Francois and Steve Baker
  • Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers
  • Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham and a vice-chair of the 1922 Committee
  • Hilary Benn, Labour MP and chairman of the Brexit select committee
  • Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader
  • Yvette Cooper, Labour MP
  • Nicky Morgan, Conservative MP
  • Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP
  • Tom Brake, Lib Dem MP and the party’s Brexit spokesman
  • Jo Swinson, MP and deputy Lib Dem leader
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Corbyn’s red line

In a speech in Hastings Mr Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, said he was “quite happy” to talk with Mrs May, but she had to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader urged Mrs May to “ditch the red lines” and “get serious about proposals for the future”.

He said: “With no-deal on the table, the prime minister will enter into phony talks just to run down the clock and try to blackmail MPs to vote through her botched deal on a second attempt by threatening the country with the chaos that no-deal would bring.”

Jeremy CorbynImage copyrightPA

Mr Corbyn said the “best outcome” was to call a general election to “break the deadlock”.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was not a straightforward judgement for the Labour Party, as many members do not want Brexit to happen – meaning Mr Corbyn could be criticised for helping the process if he attends.

What do MPs say happened in their meetings?

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said that the extension of Article 50 – the two year mechanism that means the UK leaves the EU on 29 March – the ruling out of a no-deal Brexit, and the option of a second EU referendum would have to form the basis of future discussions.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, said they were “committed to finding a real solution” but “that means taking a no deal Brexit off the table and a People’s Vote on our European future”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said he was encouraged by Mrs May’s “willingness to talk about these issues in detail”. The preferred choice of the party is another referendum.

Following her meeting on Thursday, Green MP Caroline Lucas said the PM refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

“I repeatedly urged her again and again to take ‘no deal’ off the table because I think it completely skews the talks because you know that cliff edge is there,” she said.

Mrs May was also resisting the option of extending Article 50, Ms Lucas said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the prime minister was in “listening mode” and there was optimism that a Brexit deal could still be reached.

She said she made a “clear ask” in relation to the Irish backstop, urging Mrs May to address it “in a satisfactory way”.

Source: BBC

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