Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Prime Minister of being ‘in denial’ over her Brexit strategy after she failed to outline a new approach towards the negotiations in a speech in Parliament.
Parroting the phrase famously used by Theresa May, the Labour leader said that ‘nothing has changed’ since the PM’s historic defeat in the House of Commons last week.
Mrs May addressed MPs to outline her latest approach to Brexit after MPs roundly rejected the agreement she negotiated with the EU by a margin of 230 votes.
Pro and anti Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament (Picture: PA)There was little indication of compromise, with the Prime Minister once again ruling out a second referendum and an extension to Article 50 but stopping short of announcing an alteration to her position.
However she did announce that the £65 fee for EU citizens to secure the right to live in UK after Brexit will be scrapped after outcry from campaign groups.
OFFICIAL: EU citizens will not need to pay to stay here in the United Kingdom.
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) January 21, 2019
Mrs May promised talks with MPs from all parties, including the DUP, to hear their concerns about the Irish backstop arrangement in her deal.
She said: “I will be talking further this week to colleagues, including in the DUP, to consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House.
“And I will then take the conclusions of those discussions back to the EU.”
Mr Corbyn branded her cross-party talks a ‘sham’.
He said: “Every opposition party politician came out of those meetings with the same response.
“Contrary to what the Prime Minister just said there was no flexibility, there were no negotiations – nothing had changed.”
The idea of amending the backstop was shot down by the EU before it was even announced, as European leader dismissed her move as ‘party politics’.
The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that the current deal, including the backstop, is ‘the best deal possible’.
He also dismissed speculation that the UK could negotiate with Ireland alone to overcome the backstop issue.
Pressed whether there was any scope for a bilateral deal between the UK and Ireland, he responded: “We are one team.”
Mrs May will table a “neutral” motion, which MPs will be able to add amendments to. These will then be debated and voted on on January 29.
Under the prime minister’s deal, the backstop would kick in if there is no deal between the UK and the EU after the transition period.
It would see Northern Ireland remaining aligned to some of the rules of the EU single market and would involve a temporary single custom territory unless the UK and the EU agree it is no longer necessary.
Many Conservative MPs and the DUP say they can never support this, but the EU insists it will not consider removing or altering it.
There were signs some Brexiteers could reluctantly back Mrs May’s deal amid concerns a cross-party grouping of MPs are plotting to impose a “softer” Brexit – or derail it altogether.