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May offers Corbyn further Brexit talks in attempt to secure deal

May offers Corbyn further Brexit talks in attempt to secure deal

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".

Labour's Brexit policy chief Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times newspaper that his party would seek to use the debate in parliament this week to prevent May from waiting until the last minute to come back with a deal, and compel her to present a fresh accord for lawmakers to consider before February 26.

The Leave campaign figurehead was speaking 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 backstop, which is created to keep the Irish border open after the UK's withdrawal.

She visited Dublin and Brussels last week seeking changes to the backstop - the "insurance" policy to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Following an exchange of letters between Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn, opening the door to further talks on a possible Brexit compromise, Downing Street said the government was not considering full membership of the EU customs union as demanded by the Labour leader.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said his "key question" about Mrs May's response was: "Is she prepared to move her red lines and find a consensus?"

But she said it also recognises the development of the UK's independent trade policy.

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"It's clear from our side that we are not going to reopen the withdrawal agreement but we will continue our discussion in the coming days", Barnier said afterward.

Mrs May does not agree, and wrote: "I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future European Union trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?"

"Is she firstly trying to get her own team back on board to put her deal yet again with some supposed changes, and that's what looks like she is doing, or is she genuinely looking to see a majority for Labour's proposal of a customs union single market alignment".

"There is no doubt that our economy is being overshadowed by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process", he told Sky News. "But, the solution to this has to be to get Jeremy Corbyn, or the Labour Party, or indeed Parliament as a whole, to come behind a deal". Although lawmakers asked for the backstop to be removed, May has said since that the backstop will remain, and that Parliament merely asked for it to be altered.

Mrs May rejected Labour's demand to automatically follow European Union rules on workers' rights and environmental protection.

This is of huge economic importance to United Kingdom businesses so I'm delighted to be here in Bern today, ensuring continuity for 15,000 British exporters. Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the United Kingdom but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.

Question marks linger over the departure date as Theresa May still struggles to strike a negotiated deal that can win the backing of parliament.