May open to compromise, but Brexit hurdles persist
LONDON – With the clock ticking down toward last-minute talks in Brussels on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May this weekend took another step away from hardline anti-Europe lawmakers in her Conservative Party and sought to portray herself as committed to compromise talks that stalled last week.
But opposition Labour leaders on Sunday morning maintained that May had not yet bent to any of their demands on the withdrawal, known as Brexit. And whatever overtures she makes to Labour, analysts said, she will struggle to guarantee that her successor as prime minister or a future Parliament will not rip up any compromise deal – a major sticking point in the cross-party talks.
May this week was expected to seek another delay to Britain’s departure from European leaders. She is also trying to pressure Labour lawmakers who may be searching for an excuse to back a deal to avoid being seen as thwarting Brexit.
But while May appeared to soften her tone in a statement late Saturday, any compromise talks face a challenging road ahead.
“Presumably, there is some aspect of trying to convince the EU of her good faith in those talks,” said Tim Bale, a politics professor at Queen Mary University of London. But he said European leaders were likely to see that a compromise between May and Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, remained far off.
May had vowed for months that she would back only a Brexit plan that eventually took Britain out of Europe’s main economic structures, but on Saturday she suggested a compromise could be worked out around a more limited goal: regaining control over immigration from continental Europe.
That would open the door to a plan that met some of Labour’s demands. But Labour leaders said the prime minister had not yet budged on substantive pieces of her deal.
“We haven’t seen overall any real changes to the deal,” Rebecca LongBailey, a senior Labour official, said.