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  1. ITV Report

Prime Minister Theresa May tells Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: 'Let's do a Brexit deal'

Theresa May has urged Jeremy Corbyn to "do a deal" to help break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament.

The Prime Minister admitted she understood why Conservative MPs found the decision to hold talks with Labour "uncomfortable", and said it was not what she wanted either.

However she said this week's local elections, where both parties lost councillors, had given a "fresh urgency" to talks in a bid to end the impasse.

Despite Mrs May's calls for unity with Labour over a Brexit deal, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he does not trust the Prime Minister and accused her of having "blown the confidentiality" of cross-party talks.

Mrs May's appeal to Mr Corbyn was backed by new International Development Secretary Rory Stewart who said the ball was in the Labour leader's court.

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt highlights that although Theresa May has gone "all in" with her plea to Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is not united on what sort of Brexit deal it wants

Mr Stewart told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "I think a deal can be done, a lot of this rests on, to be honest, one man: whether Jeremy Corbyn really wants to deliver a Brexit deal.

"But I think if he wants to do it it will be actually surprisingly easy to do because our positions are very, very close."

The newly-appointed Cabinet minister also said his party was "keen to get a good Brexit deal done as soon as possible", and conceded that the Government's handling of Britain's exit from the EU was responsible for his party's drubbing at the local elections.

Mr Stewart also warned that if the Tories tried to "outdo" Nigel Farage then it could lose four million Conservative Remain-supporting voters.

"We've got to be a broad party. We've got to be able to stretch all the way from Ken Clarke right the way through to Jacob Rees-Mogg," the 46-year-old said.

He also confirmed that he would run to be the next prime minister when Mrs May stands down, but said: "I am now so excited to be the International Development Secretary."

Rory Stewart was made International Development Secretary in a Cabinet reshuffle following Gavin Williamson's sacking. Credit: PA

Mr Stewart's calls for a deal echoed Mrs May's, who earlier in the day wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “To the leader of the opposition, I say this: let’s listen to what the voters said in the elections and put our differences aside for a moment.

"I negotiated with the EU what I believe is a very good deal for the UK - a deal which allows us to genuinely take back control of our money and our laws.

"The free movement of people will end - giving us control of our own borders for the first time in decades.

"However, I could not persuade enough of my colleagues to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement and, regrettably, I have to accept there is no sign of that position changing."

“However, I could not persuade enough of my colleagues to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement and, regrettably, I have to accept there is no sign of that position changing.”

She continued: “Since then, the Government has been in talks with the Opposition to try to find a unified, cross-party position.

“I understand many of my colleagues find this decision uncomfortable. Frankly, it is not what I wanted, either.

“But we have to find a way to break the deadlock – and I believe the results of the local elections give fresh urgency to this.

The Prime Minister also issued a rallying cry to MPs urging them to support cross-party efforts to "break the deadlock" and get a deal through the Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May has urged Labour to Credit: PA

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While Mrs May called for a compromise between Labour and the Tories, Mr McDonnell accused her of having "blown the confidentiality" of cross-party talks.

Asked on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show if he trusted Mrs May, Mr McDonnell replied: "No, sorry, not after this weekend when she's blown the confidentiality I had and I actually think she's jeopardised the negotiations for her own personal protection."

He said Labour wanted the Tories to put party politics aside, and wanted to get a deal done "as soon as possible" but needed guarantees that an agreement would not be "ripped up" by a future Conservative leader.

Mr McDonnell also accused Mrs May of "bad faith" following newspaper reports about where the Prime Minister was willing to give ground in the cross-party Brexit talks, as he reiterated his party's call for a "permanent and comprehensive" customs union.

And he said: "We are negotiating with Theresa May's team as requested.

"Whilst we're doing that and we think we're gaining an understanding of our different positions and where we can reach some compromise, in the wings, if you like, are all the leadership candidates virtually threatening to tear up whatever deal that we do."

On a second referendum, Mr McDonnell said: "We will go to a public vote to block any bad deal and we'll block a no-deal as well.

"But we've also said... in the negotiations that they've got to recognise the reality that there will be MPs who will want to vote for a public vote."

He said it "may well" be the case that any deal would have to go back to the people, adding: "I think the Conservatives have to recognise that if a deal is going to go through there might be a large number of MPs who will want a public vote."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he does not Mrs May. Credit: PA

Elsewhere Brexit Party leader Mr Farage challenged Mr Corbyn to a debate ahead of the European elections, warning a deal between Labour and the Tories would be the "final betrayal".

He told Sky: "There are five million voters out there, Labour voters, who voted to leave, particularly in the Midlands, the north, and south Wales.

"I would love between now and polling to have a debate with Jeremy Corbyn about this because people are very confused about what Labour are standing for."

Both parties lost control of councils at this week's local elections. Credit: PA Graphics

With talks between Labour and the Tories expected to resume early next week, the Sunday Times reported that Mrs May was prepared to give ground in three areas: customs, goods alignment and workers’ rights.

The paper said the Prime Minister would put forward plans for a comprehensive but temporary customs arrangement with the EU that would last until the next general election.

However, Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, told The Daily Telegraph that staying in a customs union could lead to a “catastrophic split” in the Conservative Party at a time when the opposition is led by “dangerous extremists”.

It came as more than 100 opposition MPs from five parties wrote to the PM and Mr Corbyn to say they would not support a “Westminster stitch-up” and would vote against a customs union unless it is put to a referendum.

The MPs said: “The very worst thing we could do at this time is a Westminster stitch-up whether over the PM’s deal or another deal. This risks alienating both those who voted leave in 2016 and those who voted remain.”

Corbyn has been in talks with Theresa May in an attempt to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament. Credit: PA