Lords Move to Prevent No-Deal as Talks Stumble: Brexit Update

Alex Morales, Jessica Shankleman and Robert Hutton
Lords Move to Prevent No-Deal as Talks Stumble: Brexit Update

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Theresa May is trying to find a new Brexit compromise with the opposition Labour Party, and officials from both sides will hold “technical talks” talks on Monday evening. But leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized the government for not moving its red lines.

Key Developments:

May’s team has made a compromise offer to Labour, but it doesn’t include the key demand of a customs union, according to a person familiar with the situationMay invited rank-and-file Tories to briefing on negotiations with LabourCore group of EU leaders are zeroing in on an agreement to delay Brexit

Lords Approve Bill to Stop No-Deal Brexit (7:50 p.m.)

House of Lords approves a bill aimed at stopping a no-deal Brexit. It now goes back to the House of Commons in the next hour.

The bill is less important than it was when it was first conceived, as May has already said she won’t pursue a no-deal exit without Parliament’s consent. She’s also seeking an extension to Brexit day to avoid a crash-out scenario on April 12.

The bill was amended with a technicality, which the Commons now has to consider.

Corbyn Says May Won’t Move Her Red Lines (6:10 p.m.)

Following days of talks between the May’s office and Jeremy Corbyn’s team, the Labour leader said the prime minister hasn’t moved her red lines. The shadow cabinet met today and expressed frustration that a compromise hasn’t been reached, he said.

“The key issues -- that we must see real movement on to secure an agreement -- are a customs union with the EU, alignment with the single market and full dynamic alignment of workers’ rights, environmental protections and consumer standards,” he said.

He notably didn’t mention a so-called people’s vote or second referendum.

Core EU Group Said to Plan Pre-Summit Meeting (5:25 p.m.)

A small group of EU leaders, including those of France and Germany, are planning a meeting about Brexit before the main summit on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the situation. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at mid-afternoon in Brussels, one of the people said.

Lords Amend Cooper’s No-Deal Bill (5:15 p.m.)

The House of Lords has voted through changes to Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s draft bill which aims to prevent a no-deal Brexit. The changes are technical, intended to prevent an accidental no-deal if the government were unable to meet its requirements.

The effect today is that the bill, as amended, will have to come back to the House of Commons this evening to have the amendments signed off. As the changes went through without a vote in the Lords, this ought to be straightforward -- unless an opponent of the bill in the House of Commons tries to lay a trap.

Government to Hold Talks With Labour on Monday (5:10 p.m.)

“Technical talks” between government and Labour Party officials will take place on Monday evening, May’s spokesman said in an emailed statement on Monday.

May Briefs Tories on Labour Talks (4:55 p.m.)

Theresa May invited members of the influential 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Conservative Party MPs to her Downing Street office to brief them on the progress of talks with the opposition Labour Party.

“We’ve had a useful briefing,” Chairman Graham Brady said as he came out. “It was her invitation to bring us up to date.” Asked if the government’s offer included a customs deal, he said: “Talks are proceeding.”

Brexiteer Bernard Jenkin said he’s not happy with the conversation with the prime minister, though he declined to go into details.

Labour-Government Talks to Resume (4:30 p.m.)

Talks between the government and the Labour Party are expected to resume Monday evening, and will probably be at the level of officials rather than ministers, according to an official.

Earlier, a person familiar with the situation said the government had made a new compromise offer to Labour but it didn’t include the customs union, which is a key demand of the opposition.

Barnier Hints Backstop Stays, Deal or No Deal (4:15 p.m.)

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc would not start trade talks with the U.K. in the event of a no-deal Brexit until an agreement has been reached on the Irish border. That means the U.K. has to find a way to keep the Irish border open if it wants a trade deal with the EU, and the only way the two sides have found so far is the backstop.

Barnier also said the bloc is open to rewriting the part of the deal that covers future ties between the U.K. and EU and could move quickly to do that if cross-party talks in London yielded a new compromise.

Ireland Confident Extension Will be Granted (4 p.m.)

Irish PM says he’s confident an agreement will be reached over an extension to the Brexit day deadline at a summit this week. Still, he noted there were different views in the bloc about such a delay.

He was speaking to reporters with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin.

Deal Would Help May in Local Election (2:45 p.m.)

May’s Conservatives stand to gain in local elections next month if the prime minister can secure a Brexit deal, because of the swathe of the electorate who want the divorce over and done with, according to a Tory lord known for his electoral number-crunching.

Some 8,374 seats are up for grabs across England in the May 2 council elections, more than half of them Conservative-held, Robert Hayward said in a briefing in Westminster. That means the election is “target practice on Tory territory,” Hayward, an expert in district-by-district electoral data, told reporters. The Liberal Democrats are best-placed to make gains at the ruling party’s expense, he said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there is a Brexit benefit to the government if there is a deal,” he said. “The corollary of that is that there is clearly a disadvantage to the Tory Party if there is not a deal.”

Government Offer to Labour Excludes Customs Union (2:20 p.m.)

May’s government has made a written offer to the Labour party for a new compromise on Brexit but it doesn’t include a customs union, according to a person familiar with the situation.

A customs union is one of the opposition party’s main demands.

Government Could Make Formal Offer to Labour (11:45 a.m.)

The government could make a formal written offer to Labour on Monday that sets out the basis for a compromise, an official familiar with the situation said.

The letter would come from May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, who has been leading the talks on behalf of the prime minister, according to the official, who asked not to be identified.

It would be different to the proposal last week, which didn’t include changes to the political declaration, the person said. However, the two sides could also opt for more face-to-face talks instead.

May to Speak to Other EU Leaders on Monday (11:30 a.m.)

The prime minister’s spokeswoman, Alison Donnelly, told reporters May will speak to other EU leaders by phone on Monday.

The government also aims to restart negotiations with the opposition Labour Party on Monday, Donnelly said, adding that talks have been positive and both sides have shown a willingness to engage.

May Will Also Meet France’s Macron on Tuesday (11:15 a.m.)

Theresa May will embark on a round of whistle-stop diplomacy on Tuesday, taking in Berlin and Paris ahead of the crunch EU summit in Brussels a day later. French President Emmanuel Macron will meet May at 6 p.m., his office said. That follows May’s meeting at 12 p.m. with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose spokesman told reporters that Germany and France would coordinate on May’s visits.

May to Meet Merkel on Tuesday (10:50 a.m.)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host a meeting with Theresa May in Berlin on Tuesday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a regular government press conference, with Brexit on the agenda.

“There are always good reasons in this difficult controversial situation to speak with each other,” Seibert said. “We’re conducting these discussions with the U.K. in the spirit of our respect for the democratic decision that was made during the referendum, and in the spirit that we want to maintain as close a relationship as possible with the U.K. after its departure from the EU.”

Labour Says Ball in Government’s Court (10:30 a.m.)

Keir Starmer, the main opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, said there are no talks scheduled for today, but that he has “no doubt things will develop.” He’s waiting for a firm proposal from the government to consider.

“The ball is in the government’s court,” he told Sky News on Monday. Both sides have approached the talks “in the spirit of trying to find a way forward,” he said.

May is due at a summit of EU leaders on Wednesday, where she needs to show she has a clear plan to execute the divorce in order to win the short extension she’s pushing for. EU officials have said that the bloc is very unlikely to veto an extension to the Brexit day deadline, but there is disagreement over how long that delay should be.

Wright Calls for Cross-Party Compromise (Earlier)

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright called for compromise on Brexit, and said it’s incumbent on politicians from all parties to find a way through the impasse.

“It’s very important that we do our best as politicians on all sides of the aisle to respect what the British people decided in 2016,” Wright told BBC Radio on Monday. “We must make sure that we’re all prepared to compromise to fulfill that primary objective.”

Repeatedly asked whether a customs union was the solution, Wright reiterated that he thought leaving the EU on the premier’s deal is the best solution, before adding: “If we can’t, then let’s find another way forward.”


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--With assistance from Arne Delfs, Helene Fouquet, Tim Ross, Dara Doyle and Ian Wishart.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Jessica Shankleman in London at jshankleman@bloomberg.net;Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Emma Ross-Thomas at erossthomas@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs

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