Bloomberg LONDON (Bloomberg) — The British Labour Party accused Prime Minister Theresa May of lacking the support within her Conservative Party to deliver the Brexit transition period she’s proposed, and urged her to work instead with the opposition to pave the way for one.
Keir Starmer, the party’s Brexit spokesman, wrote to May on Monday telling her there was a “sensible majority” in Parliament for a two-year transition. That would allow Britain to stay inside the European Union’s single market and customs union after 2019 while it completed negotiations for its future relationship with the bloc. He said the opposition to such an arrangement came from Conservatives.
“Over recent weeks, it has become increasingly clear that you alone do not have the authority to deliver a transitional deal with Europe and to take the necessary steps to protect jobs and the economy,” Starmer wrote in the letter, which was released by his office.
While May is unlikely to welcome Labour’s offer, it highlights the weakness of her position. When the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to Parliament on Tuesday, it faces hundreds of proposed amendments to be considered over eight days of debate. Even with the backing of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, May only has a slim majority. Tories who want to keep close ties to the EU have put their names on many of the measures, suggesting the government will have to back down or be defeated.
The bill returns to the House of Commons with May having lost two Cabinet ministers to different scandals in the past fortnight.
Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday reported that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove have written a joint memo to May, warning that the government wasn’t working hard enough on Brexit and insisting that the transition should last two years at most.
Gove declined to discuss the letter when asked about it on the BBC, beyond confirming its existence. But he did signal a willingness to accept higher payments to the EU if that was the price of a Brexit deal.
“I wouldn’t block the prime minister in doing what she believed was right,” Gove said, adding that May and Brexit Secretary David Davis “should be given the flexibility they need in order to secure that good deal.”
Davis was more reticent, telling Sky that the public “would not want me to just come along and give away billions.” The idea that Britain could offer more has come as Brexit talks remain stalled. Speech