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Brexit: Theresa May pushes for cross-party consensus

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Media captionTheresa May has called on MPs to “work constructively together” to find a way forward

Theresa May is to meet MPs to try to find a way forward for Brexit, after her slim victory in the no-confidence vote.

The PM saw off a bid to remove her government from power by 325 to 306 votes, the day after her plan for leaving the EU was rejected.

Afterwards, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to join talks unless the threat of a no-deal exit was ruled out.

The PM said she wanted to approach discussions in a “constructive spirit”.

Speaking outside Downing Street after talks on Wednesday night with the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru, Mrs May called on MPs to “put self-interest aside”.

She must present a new plan for EU withdrawal to Parliament by 21 January.

“It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done,” she said.

The prime minister is expected to hold meetings with both Tory Brexiteers and the DUP – both of whom rejected her withdrawal deal earlier this week – on Thursday.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will also hold talks with senior opposition politicians.

However, when asked what the government was willing to compromise on, Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis refused to give specifics.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mrs May would not consider a customs union and that he did not believe a new referendum was “the right way to go”.

Former prime minister Tony Blair told Today that an extension to Article 50 – the two year mechanism that means the UK leaves the EU on 29 March – was “inevitable” at this point and warned a no-deal Brexit would do “profound damage” to the UK’s economy.

Meetings, on their own, are not a Plan B. Conversations, are not by themselves, compromises.

To get any deal done where there are such clashing views all around, it requires give and take. It feels like a political lifetime since there has been a fundamental dispute in the cabinet, in the Tory party and across Parliament. Theresa May has stubbornly, although understandably, tried to plot a middle course.

But that has failed so spectacularly at this stage.

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