Brexit talks by UK’s May called a ‘stunt’ by opposition
LONDON (AP) — A weakened but defiant Prime Minister Theresa May met lawmakers from Britain’s rival Brexit factions Thursday to try to forge a replacement for her rejected European Union exit plan.
But the country’s main opposition leader branded the talks a “stunt,” and May gave little sign she would make major changes to the divorce deal tossed out by Parliament this week.
A new Brexit showdown between Parliament and government looked to be looming in the House of Commons before the end of the month.
“The really important question is, ‘there’s an open door, is there an open mind to a change?’” said Labour Party lawmaker Hilary Benn, who heads Parliament’s Brexit committee and met with May on Thursday.
With Britain’s Brexit process gridlocked, EU countries stepped up preparations for a disorderly British exit on March 29.
The nations were spending millions, hiring thousands of workers and issuing emergency decrees to cope with the possibility that Britain will leave the bloc without an agreement to smooth the way.
British lawmakers threw out May’s Brexit deal Tuesday, a defeat that triggered a no-confidence vote in the government.
May’s minority Conservative administration narrowly survived with backing from its Northern Irish ally, the Democratic Unionist Party.
A chastened May promised that she would hold talks “in a constructive spirit” with leaders of opposition parties and other lawmakers in a bid to find a way forward for Britain’s EU exit.
The government confirmed that May will meet a Monday deadline to publish a Brexit “Plan B,” and that lawmakers will have a full day to debate it — and, crucially, amend it — on January 29.
May so far has shown little inclination to make major changes to her Brexit deal or lift her insistence that Brexit means leaving the EU’s single market and customs union.