Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn | Anthony Devlin/Getty Images
Brexit talks between Conservatives and Labour collapse
‘We have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us,’ says Jeremy Corbyn.
Updated 5/17/19, 12:56 PM CET
Talks between the U.K.’s Conservative and Labour parties to find a compromise Brexit deal were called off Friday with no agreement.
In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the talks “have now gone as far as they can.”
“The talks have been detailed, constructive and have involved considerable effort for both our teams,” he added. “However, it has become clear that, while there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us.”
The talks began six weeks ago, hoping to find enough common ground between the country’s two biggest parties for a deal that would secure a majority in parliament — after MPs three times rejected the Withdrawal Agreement that May had negotiated with the European Union.
Progress from the talks was always likely to be limited as both parties are deeply divided over Brexit.
Pro-Brexit Conservatives did not want May to cede ground to Labour on continued membership of a customs union with the EU, which, they argued, would hamper Britain’s efforts to forge independent post-Brexit trade deals.
For Labour, a key concern was that anything it agreed with May’s government risked being shelved by a new Conservative leader within weeks.
May on Thursday agreed to set a timetable for her to stand down as prime minister — but only after her Brexit bill goes back to the House of Commons for a vote in early June.