May blackmailing MPs over Brexit deal, Corbyn claims

Theresa May is trying to “blackmail” MPs into backing her Brexit deal by running down the clock to prevent alternative plans being considered, Jeremy Corbyn claimed.

The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of risking a no-deal Brexit in order to keep the Conservative party together.

Mr Corbyn, who has suffered a split in his own party – in part due to Brexit policy – called on the Prime Minister to accept his offer of working on a “sensible” deal.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed Theresa May's Brexit tactics were an attempt to 'blackmail' MPs into supporting her deal (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn claimed Theresa May’s Brexit tactics were an attempt to ‘blackmail’ MPs into supporting her deal (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Addressing manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, formerly known as EEF, he said Labour’s plan – based on a customs union – “could win the support of Parliament, be negotiated with the EU and help bring the country together”.

Mr Corbyn, who is due to hold talks with EU negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday, said the Labour plan “has been widely welcomed as a way of breaking the impasse”.

He added: “If the Prime Minister is unable to adopt a sensible deal because it would split the Tories, then there needs to be a general election. Without it we will keep all options on the table, including the option of a public vote.

“The country cannot be taken over the cliff edge for the sake of Tory party unity.

“The Government is running down the clock in an attempt to blackmail MPs with the threat of crashing out without a deal.”

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis accused Mr Corbyn of playing “political games” and said: “Being a member of the customs union would be a less desirable outcome than what we have already agreed with the EU and would stop the UK striking our own trade deals around the world – something Labour previously supported.

“The House of Commons has already voted against staying in a customs union as it wouldn’t fulfil the result of the referendum.

“Instead of playing political games on Brexit, Labour should act in the national interest and deliver on the referendum result.”