FILE - In this March 29, 2019, file photo, Pro-Brexit leave the European Union supporters wave flags in Parliament Square at the end of the final leg of the “March to Leave” in London. Britain is set to leave the EU on April 12 without a Brexit agreement in place unless a plan is reached or the EU grants an extension. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

U.K. government, opposition cling to hope of Brexit compromise

Britain could face a sudden and chaotic departure from the EU on Friday

Britain’s government and opposition were clinging to hope Monday of finding a compromise Brexit deal, 48 hours before Prime Minister Theresa May must try to persuade European Union leaders to grant a delay to the U.K.’s departure from the bloc.

If the bloc refuses, Britain faces a sudden and chaotic departure on Friday, the Brexit deadline previously set by the EU.

May sought talks with the opposition Labour Party after Parliament three times voted down her divorce deal with the EU. Three days of negotiations last week failed to yield a breakthrough, with Labour saying the Conservative government had failed to offer concrete changes to its Brexit plan.

But May’s Downing Street office said the talks had shown “willingness to compromise on both sides.”

“We hope that there will be further formal discussion” with Labour later Monday, said May’s spokeswoman, Alison Donnelly.

May has asked the EU to delay Brexit until June 30, to give Britain’s divided politicians time to agree, approve and implement a withdrawal agreement. The bloc’s leaders are due to meet in Brussels Wednesday to consider the request.

An extension requires unanimous approval from the 27 remaining national leaders, some of whom are fed up with Brexit uncertainty and reluctant to prolong it further.

Downing Street said May would hold face-to-face talks with the French and German leaders before the EU summit, to lay out her reasons for seeking a Brexit delay.

She plans to fly to Berlin Tuesday to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel, then on to Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron has been particularly resistant to the idea of further delay to Brexit, saying the EU can’t be held “hostage” to Britain’s political crisis.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said May “is totally and utterly determined to deliver Brexit.”

Hunt said of the other 27 EU leaders that “they want Brexit to be resolved as quickly as possible. So do we.”

READ MORE: U.K. lawmakers reject having new Brexit referendum

But it’s unclear whether talks between the government and the left-of-centre Labour Party will break the impasse that last left Britain uncertain how — or even whether— it will leave the EU.

Labour favours a softer Brexit than the government has proposed, including a close economic relationship with the bloc through a customs union.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said Monday that both parties “must make sure we’re all prepared to compromise.”

“There’s some urgency to it, but I do think it’s important for everyone to take their responsibilities seriously, whatever party they come from, and try and get to a point where we leave the EU, as people have said they wish to do, and to do it on the best possible terms,” he told the BBC. “I think that’s achievable.”

After U.K. lawmakers three times rejected May’s agreement with the bloc that was struck late last year, the EU gave Britain until April 12 to approve a withdrawal plan, change course and seek a further delay to Brexit, or crash out of the EU with no deal to cushion the shock.

Economists and business leaders warn that a no-deal Brexit would lead to huge disruptions in trade and travel, with tariffs and customs checks causing gridlock at British ports and possible shortages of goods.

Worries about a no-deal Brexit are especially acute in Ireland, the only EU member state to share a land border with the U.K. Any customs checks or other obstacles along the currently invisible frontier would hammer the Irish economy, and could undermine Northern Ireland’s peace process.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was due in Dublin on Monday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Any compromise between May’s government and Labour is sure to inflame divisions within each party over Brexit. Labour is formally committed to enacting the voters’ decision to leave the EU, but many of its lawmakers want a new referendum that could keep Britain in the bloc. They will be angry if the party actively helps bring about the U.K.’s departure.

May’s rapprochement with Labour infuriated pro-Brexit lawmakers in her Conservative Party, who say Britain must cut ties to the EU in order to forge an independent economic policy.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, said a customs union would “enslave” the U.K.

Johnson tweeted: “We should not agree to be non-voting members of the EU, under the surrender proposed by (Labour leader) Jeremy Corbyn — it cannot, must not and will not happen.”

___

Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this story.

___

Jill Lawless And Danica Kirka, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Escaped python found in Saanich building reunited with its owner

The little snake is at ‘home, safe and sound,’ CRD chief bylaw officer says

COVID-19: Victoria hopes to provide financial relief through property taxes, utility bills

A number of city projects could be deferred in light of pandemic

Highway 1 tree removal impacts traffic Tuesday evening

Work starts April 7 at 6 p.m. between Finlayson Arm Road and Westshore Parkway

Victoria police seek public’s help finding man missing more than a week

Joel Diment 26 and has short brown hair and hazel eyes

Greater Victoria donates 166 tents, 240 sleeping bags and more for those in need

Items placed in 72-hour quarantine before being distributed to help homeless self-isolate

Mental Health: Planning for a crisis

Crisis planning lays out a blueprint in case hard times hit

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

Most Read