Published: Mon, April 15, 2019

Brexit talks ‘will stall unless May shifts on customs union’

Brexit talks ‘will stall unless May shifts on customs union’

The British cabinet office minister who is leading the Brexit talks between the government and the Labour party has said discussions on a compromise deal will continue this week, but they can not be allowed to drag out for too long.

He said next week's meeting will focus on issues including environmental standards, workers rights and the new security relationship with the EU.

He said that the question can not be allowed drag out for too long and they will not go on for months.

However, the European Union has insisted the terms of the UK's withdrawal, rejected three times by MPs, can not be renegotiated - but there is scope to strengthen the political declaration, a document setting out the parameters of the UK's future relations with the European Union, ahead of the new Brexit deadline of 31 October.

He said it is possible to get the benefits of the customs but still have the flexibility for the United Kingdom to pursue an independent trade policy with other countries.

"What we have found in terms of objectives... there is fair bit that both parties would have in common", he said, but added: "If we are going to find an agreement there needs to be movement on both sides".

"The government's position has not changed".

"If Labour does not re-confirm its support for a confirmatory public vote on any Brexit deal in its manifesto then it will haemorrhage votes to parties who do have a clear message", he said.

He said that a referendum has been voted on and defeated in recent House of Commons votes.

The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green warned against his party embracing Labour's Brexit policy, saying he had "real concerns with some of my colleagues going out lauding Jeremy Corbyn".

He said: "I think there is some scope for alternative results because the European Union has said no matter what there is not going to be a hard border with Northern Ireland".

Without any consensus in parliament, reflective of a deeply divided population, all outcomes remain possible in the coming weeks and months: leaving the European Union with a deal, a disorderly exit without a deal, or another vote on whether to leave at all.

The analysis showed Corbyn's Labour Party would win the most seats but still fall short of an outright majority in the 650-seat parliament, with Scottish nationalists and the small centrist Liberal Democrats party also picking up seats.

He said there is a mood in his party to accept the deal that emerges as long as it is put to a referendum.

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