Corbyn ‘more certain than ever’ May will be forced to accept ‘sensible’ Brexit

Jeremy Corbyn is “more certain than ever” MPs will back a deal to keep the UK closely tied to the European Union after talks with senior Tories.

The Labour leader said he believed the Commons would force the Government to back a “sensible” Brexit plan.

His comments came after Theresa May’s efforts to resolve the Brexit deadlock ran into difficulties in Brussels and peers inflicted a defeat over a key part of her strategy.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Mr Corbyn said Labour would support a second referendum to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit or a no deal outcome”, but stressed his efforts to find a deal.

On Wednesday he held talks with former Tory ministers Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin, along with Labour’s Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell, about their “Common Market 2.0” plan which would keep the UK in the single market and customs union.

The Prime Minister has rejected the idea, insisting that single market membership would mean signing up to Brussels’ rules with no influence and accepting continued free movement of people.

She also rejects a customs union because it would restrict the UK’s freedom to strike trade deals around the world after Brexit – a key prize for those who championed leaving the EU.

On Wednesday night the House of Lords backed by a majority of 66 a Labour-led cross-party move to keep Britain in a tariff-free trade bloc with Brussels.

Supporters of the amendment to the Trade Bill argued MPs should have the opportunity to “think again” on the issue of a customs union.

The Government pointed out MPs had already rejected such a proposal, with Tory frontbencher Lord Bates telling peers: “It doesn’t need a chance to think again.”

But writing in the Mirror, Mr Corbyn suggested MPs were coming round to the idea of a soft Brexit.

He said he was “more certain than ever that we can find a way to work across Parliament to force the government to back a sensible Brexit plan that protects jobs”.

Mr Corbyn added: “I will continue to reach out to get a decent Brexit deal so our country can spend more time talking about our children’s future than a customs union.

“Labour respects the result of the referendum and a close economic relationship is the best Brexit compromise for both 17 million Leave voters and 16 million Remain voters.

“But we can’t accept a damaging Tory Brexit or a no deal outcome, so we also support preparing for a public vote in case Parliament is not able to achieve a sensible Brexit.

“We will do whatever we can to find a solution that can unite the country so, together, we can face down the real challenges and seize the opportunities in this moment of great change.”

Both the UK and EU sides admitted talks in Brussels on efforts to find a way to resolve the difficulties over the Northern Ireland backstop had been “difficult”.

The European Commission said there was still “no solution” to the impasse over the Irish backstop following a meeting between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.

The meeting took place as Mrs May prepared for next week’s crunch “meaningful vote” in the Commons on her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The Prime Minister has said she wants legally binding changes to the backstop – intended to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland – to ensure the UK is not tied to EU rules indefinitely, in order to convince MPs to back her deal.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Downing Street is already making preparations for a third meaningful vote on the assumption that MPs will reject Mrs May’s deal for a second time next week.

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