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'Plan with a chance' could come out of cross-party Brexit talks

There has been considerable and widespread cynicism about the talks between the Government and Labour about a compromise that could break the Brexit deadlock.

But those close to the negotiations, led today by David Lidington and Kier Starmer, believe there is at last a "plan with a chance," of securing a positive vote from MPs for the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement, without which there can be no managed exit from the EU.

It would involve a Government committing to staying in the Customs Union, "dynamic" alignment with EU rules covering workers’ rights and the environment and giving the Commons a vote on whether the whole package would be subject to confirmation in a referendum.

Shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer attended talks today to find a deal. Credit: PA

"Is all this real?" I asked informed sources.

"Yes," they said.

Will it at this last moment provide a stable platform not only for a one-off vote on the principle of this Brexit model but also the complex, controversial, attendant and necessary legislation? Well maybe - if Theresa May can ignore the weeks ahead of outrage from her own Brexiter MPs, who may quit her Government and even her party in disgust.

Oh and Labour and Jeremy Corbyn could face a similar risk of binary fission, if the offer of a confirmatory referendum looks conditional and therefore to all intents and purposes fictional.

UPDATE 00.43: It sounds as though there is rather more optimism about the talks on the government side than from Labour.

A Labour source told me: “We were told a paper would come to us this evening [Thursday] then told tomorrow but don't hold your breath as all they did was reiterate their positions yesterday. Not much new at all. Seemingly can't agree amongst themselves.”