May to promise new Brexit debate in push for more negotiating time

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a speech at a Labour local government conference at The Slate Warwick conferences Coventry. PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Prime Minister will ask Parliament not to try and force an extension to Article 50 when the Commons is presented with another "neutral motion" on Brexit later this week, rather than a substantive vote to approve the Brexit deal.

Mr Johnson accused Mr Corbyn of trying to "frustrate" Brexit by demanding a customs union, which he said would prevent the United Kingdom from striking its own trade deals.

Theresa May will go before MPs today to face down calls for a delay to Brexit, amid growing unease at the impact on the economy from continued uncertainty.

The prime minister struck a conciliatory tone in her response overnight and said she looked forward to the two parties meeting again "as soon as possible" to discuss ways forward on Brexit.

However, a Cabinet minister insisted there is "no chance" of Mrs May accepting Labour's vision for leaving the EU, despite speculation she could soften her stance on customs union membership.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay will meet European Union negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday ahead of a crunch moment in parliament on Thursday, when lawmakers will try to force May to change course or give up control of the exit process.

Her comments come after European Council president Donald Tusk said last week that it was "unmistakable" that a second referendum was out of reach due to the "pro-Brexit" stance of both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn.

Theresa May has said she will not allow Britain to be part of the Customs Union after Brexit following a backlash by Eurosceptic MPs and ministers.

Mrs Leadsom said: "I think she's making quite clear that what Corbyn is demanding is actually not as good as what the Prime Minister's deal is offering".

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He said Mrs May's agreement would achieve most of Mr Corbyn's goals without preventing independent trade deals.

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly said there should be an election if Mrs May can not get a deal through Parliament and he has faced concerted pressure from some in his party to push for a second public vote.

"The idea that you can have a customs union with the EU and at the same time, as an outside country, have an effect on EU trade policy, is to not understand the EU treaties".

It was one of five demands he said May must meet if she wanted to secure his backing for any revised Brexit deal.

Her spokesman said she is committed to replacing the backstop with "alternative arrangements".

The British parliament is set to hold a debate on Brexit on February 14 but with just 45 days until Britain leaves the bloc, no date has yet been set for another "meaningful" vote on May's deal.

The government announced on Sunday that parliament might not be given the chance to vote on its Brexit deal until March.

As the clock ticks down to Britain's scheduled exit on March 29, May is trying to persuade the European Union to change a deal that was agreed between London and Brussels late a year ago but overwhelmingly rejected by parliament in January.

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