Theresa May Rejects Jeremy Corbyn's Demand UK Match EU Workers' Rights

Elias Hubbard
February 12, 2019

Theresa May has responded to Jeremy Corbyn's letter setting out his five demands for a Brexit deal.

Labour will seek to force Mrs May into a decisive second Commons showdown on her Brexit deal by February 26.

But the Prime Minister is expected to offer MPs a further chance to vote on non-binding amendments which could influence her Brexit strategy on February 27.

The prime minister said in her letter: "I have always been clear that Brexit should not be at the expense of workers' rights or environmental protections".

"However, the government does not support automatically following European Union rules in these areas because, given their importance, we believe these decisions should be taken in our parliament by our elected representatives".

On Thursday MPs will consider a motion on Brexit and a series of amendments, which will probably include shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer's attempt to impose a new deadline for a Commons vote on the deal.

With a vote due on February 14, May will ask Parliament to reaffirm its desire to remove the contentious Irish backstop clause from the Withdrawal Agreement, according to an official, who asked not to be identified.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is meeting European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier today and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will visit Paris and Warsaw for talks this week.

If no deal on the changes to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been reached with Brussels by Wednesday, as seems overwhelmingly likely, Mrs May will address MPs on progress made, say more time is needed for negotiations, and table a "neutral motion" for debate the following day.

Theresa May has called for Brexit talks with Labour "as soon as possible", while resisting Jeremy Corbyn's demands for a full customs union with the EU but leaving the door open to cooperation between the two parties in search of a breakthrough.

She also questioned whether the call for completely "frictionless" trade would mean reneging on Labour's commitment to end free movement by requiring single market membership.

She told Mr Corbyn: "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".

Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, refused on Sunday to rule out resigning from the Cabinet if May switches position and backs a customs union.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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