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  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
8 April 2019updated 07 Jun 2021 1:15pm

Could a May/Corbyn pact really deliver Brexit?

By Stephen Bush

Is Theresa May about to make Jeremy Corbyn an offer he can’t refuse over Brexit? Although talks on a Brexit compromise stalled on Friday, some see a new video message from May on the need for a cross-party accord as her preparing the ground for a concession her party won’t like – aka, any concession that involves a deal with Jeremy Corbyn.

Robert Buckland, the solicitor general, has suggested that keeping the United Kingdom in a customs union after Brexit, is “the most likely outcome” of the need for cross-party compromise.

But are there the votes for it? It’s been somewhat lost in the noise over who said what, how Conservative MPs feel about Jeremy Corbyn, whether there is going to be a second referendum and so on, that remaining in the customs union and leaving everything else is a pretty hard Brexit – with all the resulting cost to trade. It involves the loss of our membership of the single market and with it our rights to work and live in 27 other countries. It takes the United Kingdom outside the vast majority of EU rules and regulations, and involves no large payments to the EU.

It’s also a pointless Brexit as the great hope of the process is that the UK will be able to strike deep and meaningful trade deals after we have left the EU. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a big and drastic breach from the EU. 

That means, absent a second referendum, it is by no means certain that Corbyn will be able to deliver enough Labour votes to counteract the number of Tory MPs who may rebel. 

Of course, in many ways, these cross-party talks are really just cover for two things: for May’s next go at passing her deal unchanged; and the lengthy extension that the PM doesn’t want from the EU27 – but will take if the alternative is to crash out of the EU on Friday night. 

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