Tories fall out in front of us ..Brexit talks are go­ing back­wards


Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - News - BY KEIR MUDIE Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor [email protected]­

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


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.”

FRUS­TRATED Labour’s John McDonnell says Tories are tear­ing them­selves apart in Brexit meet­ings

STAND Michael Gove pushes one Brexit po­si­tion

IN­SIDE STORY Mr McDonnell and our Keir

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