While defending her decision to delay the Brexit date to hostile MPs in the House of Commons, UK Prime Minister Theresa May simultaneously kept the door open for more talks with the opposition Labour party in the hope that the two can find a compromise over the customs union despite calls from her own Conservative backbenchers that she needed to resign.
Hours after the EU-27 granted May a six-month delay for Brexit, which includes an early exit clause, May admitting that “reaching an agreement will not be easy because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises”.
May threw her support behind the EU-27’s Brexit delay after marathon talks in Brussels that was a part of an extraordinary summit focused on finding a way forward in the Brexit process. May’s statement on the decision to delay Britain’s EU exit for a second time brought an angry reaction from hardline Brexiteers from her own party. Conservative eurosceptic Bill Cash described the decision as “abject surrender”.
Along with Conservative Brexiteers, opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with whom May is trying to negotiate a compromise on the future relationship with the bloc, said that “this second extension in the space of a fortnight represents not only a diplomatic failure but is another milestone in the government’s mishandling of the entire Brexit process”.
May and Corbyn have continued their talks, with the former saying she thought, “Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises,” while adding, “However challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.”
May claims that the Tories and Labour are relatively close to an agreement on the customs union, but that they still need to work on the wording of their position.
“Let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse, so that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible,” said May, urging MPs to take advantage of a break in parliamentary business that lasts until 23 April.