LONDON (Reuters) – Brexit hung in the balance on Monday as Prime Minister Theresa May tried to coax the Labour Party into agreeing a divorce deal with a better chance of passage by parliament, ahead of a crisis EU summit where she will try to delay the April 12 departure.
Britain’s exit from the EU has already been delayed once but May is asking the bloc for yet more time as she courts veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party wants to keep Britain more closely tied to the bloc after Brexit.
May heads to Berlin and Paris on Tuesday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron and will be phoning other leaders before setting out the case for another delay at Wednesday’s emergency EU summit in Brussels.
Nearly three years after the United Kingdom shocked the world by voting by 52 percent to 48 to leave the EU, May warned that Brexit might never happen, but said that she would do everything possible to make sure it did.
“We have been in touch with the opposition today and technical talks between officials will take place this evening,” a spokesman for May said.
Labour’s Brexit point man, Keir Starmer, said earlier that May’s government had so far not shifted from its red lines on Brexit and so no way forward had been agreed.
“Both us and the government have approached this in the spirit of trying to find a way forward. We haven’t found that yet. We will continue to do that,” Starmer said.
May’s spokeswoman said she wanted Britain to have an independent trading policy – something hard to reconcile with Labour’s demand to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU –