LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to thrash out a Brexit compromise with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday, a gamble that could see a European Union divorce deal finally clear parliament but also tear her party apart.
The United Kingdom was supposed to leave the EU last Friday, but three years after Britons voted for Brexit in a referendum, it is still unclear how, when or even if it will exit the bloc.
After her EU withdrawal deal was rejected three times by lawmakers, with parliament and her Conservative Party hopelessly divided over Brexit, May said on Tuesday she would talk to Corbyn in a bid to overcome what is now a national crisis.
However, by approaching Corbyn, a veteran socialist deeply disliked by many Conservatives and mocked by May herself as unfit to govern, she risks enflaming Conservative divisions. One minister quit on Wednesday.
“It now seems that you and your cabinet have decided that a deal – cooked up with a Marxist who has never once in his political life, put British interests first – is better than no deal,” Nigel Adams said as he resigned as a minister for Wales.
A hardcore eurosceptic group of Conservative has refused to back the divorce deal she struck with the EU, saying it did not represent a decisive break with Europe.
Her decision to turn to Labour, which wants to stay in a customs union with the EU, may make a “soft” Brexit that keeps Britain’s economy closely aligned to the world’s biggest trading bloc more likely.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said the government would accept a soft Brexit if lawmakers voted for it.
“If an agreement is reached between the two respective leaders then my expectation is that there would then be a stable majority to deliver on that,” he told a parliamentary committee.