Theresa May is facing opposition on all sides over her efforts to strike a Brexit deal with Labour amid warnings that more than 100 Tory MPs could block a compromise agreement. Cross-party negotiations will resume on Tuesday after a furious backlash at weekend reports that Ms May is poised to offer Labour a temporary customs arrangement with the EU to break the deadlock.
Theresa May is facing opposition on all sides over her efforts to strike a Brexit deal with Labour amid warnings that more than 100 Tory MPs could block a compromise agreement.
Senior Labour figures cast doubt on the prospect of progress, as it emerged that two-thirds of Labour MPs would demand a second referendum as part of their conditions for supporting any Brexit deal agreed with the government.
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And Tory MPs urged Ms May not to cave into Labour’s demands as they believe a softer Brexit deal would fail to command the support of the Commons.
Nigel Evans, a member of the influential 1922 Committee, said: “If there is a compromise that turns out to be a kind of ‘Brexit in name only’ involving anything close to a customs union, there would be more than 100 Tory MPs who would never support it.”
A string of Commons defeats on Brexit proved the prime minister “did not have room to move here”, he told the BBC’s Pienaar’s Politics.
Tory MP Lee Rowley tweeted: “My message to Theresa May (checked with thousands of residents on the doorsteps in the only place where we gained a council directly from Lab on Thurs): stop this madness.
“People didn’t vote for you to do a deal with a Marxist. Fix the backstop and stop wasting time.”
But international development secretary Rory Stewart said Brexit could be worth splitting the Tory party.
Mr Stewart, who joined the cabinet last week after the departure of ex-defence secretary Gavin Williamson, said: “I think to get Brexit done, and to move this country on is worth an enormous amount, and you’re right, we may have to take some short-term pain to do that.
The prime minister also faced a backlash from Labour when details appeared in the newspapers from the talks, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell claiming she had “blown the confidentiality” of the discussions.
He said he no longer trusts Ms May, following reports she was prepared to give ground in three areas: customs, goods alignment and workers’ rights.
Labour sources said they believe two thirds of Labour MPs, including several frontbenchers, would refuse to support a deal unless there was another vote attached – a move supported by The Independent’s Final Say campaign.
MPs close to the People’s Vote campaign believe 150 to 180 out of 229 Labour MPs could block a deal, according to The Guardian.
But Labour MP Caroline Flint, who represents a Leave-voting constituency, said there was no majority for a second referendum among MPs.
She told the Today programme: “I think if a deal is struck in which Labour achieves many of its goals in that deal, that it takes us up to a general election in which all parties will be able to then set out their stall, then I think that is a deal that is worth pursuing.
“And if Labour signs up to a deal that includes those goals I think a majority of Labour MPs will support that position.”