Tories fall out in front of us ..Brexit talks are going backwards
EXCLUSIVE: MCDONNELL ON EU DEADLOCK
BREXIT talks are on the brink of collapse after Labour heavyweight John McDonnell accused Tories of “literally falling out in front of us”.
The Shadow Chancellor said there was a growing sense of frustration round the talks, with Conservative leadership contenders fighting among themselves and making a deal impossible.
Mr McDonnell has been attending talks with his shadow cabinet colleagues Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Sue Hayman.
He accused Tory counterparts of breaching confidentiality and said it was difficult to agree a deal with a disintegrating administration.
Mr McDonnell said: “The problem they have is that literally in front of us they will fall out.
“So the exercise here is holding themselves together.
“And that is proving impossible. The administration is falling apart.
“In terms of different points of view, nothing new has been put on the table – in some instances it has gone backwards.
“It’s so precarious. We’re dealing with an institution that might not be there in three weeks.
“Theresa May is living day by day. You can’t run a country on a 24-hour programme.”
Labour and Conservative representatives have been in talks for over a month to agree a deal to leave the EU both parties can agree to.
The Tory negotiating team has featured David Lidington, Steve Barclay, Philip Hammond and Michael Gove.
Mr McDonnell said a major obstacle was the uncertain future of Theresa May.
The PM has vowed to quit once a deal is agreed. But she is under growing pressure from her own party to bring her departure forward, with several of her frontbench on leadership manoeuvres.
Mr McDonnell added: “The big issue is – whatever deal we agree, will it hold beyond the political life expectancy of Theresa May?
“And so far we’re not assured. Every time we go into negotiations, one of the leadership candidates will throw doubt on any agreement that we’ve reached.
“So we’re in a position now where we’re asking, ‘How can we trust them to deliver – not just in the short-term, in the medium term as well?’
“If we do get a deal, how do we entrench that and protect it?
“With an unstable administration, with a PM who may go within weeks, and with leadership candidates who are not
It’s now a day-by-by institution that might not be there in 3 weeks
JOHN MCDONNELL ON MRS MAY’S GOVERNMENT
committed to a deal – who are undermining it – that’s a challenge.”
The Shadow Chancellor said he had been disappointed by the Tory decision to abandon confidentiality round the talks.
He said: “We’ve abided by every agreement we made on how we go about these talks. That includes confidentiality, keeping them constructive and respect for different viewpoints.
“They’re the principles we entered into. We were playing by the rules that were set and the side across the table wasn’t. At the weekend the Conservatives briefed details of the talks and broke that deal.”
When asked if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour could stay intact as the Brexit crisis threatens to split the party, he said: “We’ve held it together and taken our people with us. I think the Tories are struggling to find someone of PM calibre that could unite the party, let alone the country.” A Conservative source said: “When you have people like Philip Hammond CRISIS Labour’s Corbyn and Michael Gove together, whose Brexit positions are miles apart, then of course it’s tough to negotiate.
“The whole thing is a mess. There’s no way out of this from our point of view and that’s why people are falling out. If we don’t do a deal, we split. If we do a deal, it’s a win for Corbyn.”
The Brexit talks will resume tomorrow despite Tories ripping into Jeremy Corbyn over the EU elections.
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: “Labour MPs have been playing party politics – they have voted against leaving the EU 37 times.”
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