Brexit: May rules out Corbyn's customs union plan - minister

Pound powers higher against the euro

Pound powers higher against the euro

Britain is due to leave the European Union on 29 March but has yet to find a deal which is acceptable to both Brussels and lawmakers at home, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world's fifth largest economy.

In her response to the Labour leader's letter setting out his conditions to support a Brexit deal, Mrs May said: "It is good to see that we agree that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union with a deal and that the urgent task at hand is to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU - not to seek an election or second referendum".

May will promise lawmakers a second opportunity to influence the Brexit talks later in the month in a bid to stave off any rebellion from within her own party by those who fear Britain could end up leaving without a deal.

Theresa May has effectively ruled out Labour's ideas for a compromise Brexit plan, shutting off another potential route to a deal as business groups warned that with less than 50 days to go the departure process was entering the "emergency zone".

"As the deadline approaches, minds get focused and a deal gets done", she said.

In his letter to Mrs May, the Labour leader set out five demands, including a permanent customs union and close alignment with the single market.

In her letter to Corbyn, May argued that her own Brexit plan "explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union" in terms of avoiding tariffs, while allowing "development of the UK's independent trade policy beyond our economic partnership with the EU".

She also questioned whether the call for "frictionless" trade would mean reneging on Labour's commitment to end free movement.

Liz Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, failed to rule out quitting the government if Mrs...

There appears little prospect of an imminent breakthrough with Brussels, and Mrs May might not bring her deal back for a decisive vote this month.

Her offer came as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay prepared for talks with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier as the Government stepped up efforts to secure changes to the Irish backstop measure in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Pro-EU Tories Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston both said ministers should "step up" this week to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

"We will wait and see what the Government comes back with on Thursday, but we have got to put a hard stop to this running down of the clock", he said.

While the prime minister made it plain she did not want this, several newspapers on Monday said May had held open the door to the issue, and thus the idea of a softer Brexit.

'We can't allow that to happen, ' Sir Keir said. However, the reality is that she is using up the remaining time to try and impose a binary choice between her deal and no deal.

He said Labour's plan "could win the support of Parliament and bring the country together" but Mrs May has so far "chosen the path of division".

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