May-Corbyn Brexit talks 'will fail' if he insists on referendum

Author: Matthew Weaver / Source: the Guardian

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Talks between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May will break down if Labour insists on putting any compromise deal to a confirmatory referendum, government sources have said.

At the same time Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has warned of a Labour rebellion if Corbyn agrees to a deal without such a vote.

Meanwhile, sources have indicated that it is likely that any agreement on a customs union will require a clause allowing the UK to withdraw from it in the future. As part of the compromise, legislation will be proposed to lock in the bulk of the proposals on workers’ rights and environmental standards.

Overall, the high-stakes talks, which entered a third day on Friday, are seen to have made more progress than expected, but their fate will depend on whether either leader is willing to risk a split in their party to secure the deal.

Senior cabinet ministers appear to be willing to accept a customs union as the price of a deal.

The Conservative side is privately confident that no overall Commons majority can be reached for any amendment calling for a second referendum. It is seen as a red line that the government is not asked as part of the deal to tell its MPs to back a confirmatory referendum in the Commons.

Ministers have not ruled out bringing a version of May’s original deal back to the Commons in the next few days if the talks break down, but think she is more likely to wait a few weeks. On the other hand, a deal in the next…


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