Theresa May ‘lacks the authority to secure Brexit deal’

Labour attacks the British prime minister’s ability to achieve a transition agreement

British prime minister Theresa May with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during Remembrance Sunday in London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

British prime minister Theresa May with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during Remembrance Sunday in London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

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Theresa May lacks the authority to secure a transitional Brexit deal from the European Union and avoid an economic cliff edge after the UK leaves the union, Labour has warned.

In a letter to the prime minister as MPs prepare to consider Amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer called on her to agree a common approach to the transition deal.

“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,” he said.

Labour has tabled Amendments to the Bill that call for the UK to remain in the single market and a customs union with the EU during a transitional phase after Brexit, an approach Starmer said had cross-party support.

“I believe there is a sensible majority in the House of Commons for transitional arrangements that serve the national interest. That is why I am urging the government to adopt an agreed position on transition and to support our Amendments in the Commons on Tuesday,” he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday called on Ms May to sack foreign secretary Boris Johnson for undermining Britain and 'putting our citizens at risk'

MPs return to Westminster on Monday after a short recess, amid renewed speculation about Ms May’s future following the resignation of two cabinet ministers within a week and doubts over the future of two of the most senior figures in the government.

Michael Fallon resigned as defence secretary following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women and Priti Patel was forced out of her role as international development secretary following unauthorised meetings with senior Israeli officials.

First secretary Damian Green, the prime minister’s closest ally and de-facto deputy, is under investigation following an allegation that he behaved inappropriately with a female journalist. Mr Green has denied the allegation, along with claims that police found “extreme pornography” on his computer in the House of Commons almost a decade ago.

Johnson criticism

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday called on Ms May to sack foreign secretary Boris Johnson for undermining Britain and “putting our citizens at risk” with a succession of diplomatic blunders.

Mr Johnson has been accused of putting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian citizen, at risk of spending a further five years in prison in Iran after he told a parliamentary committee that she had been “simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it” when she was arrested there.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family have consistently claimed that she was visiting relations in Iran in March last year when she was arrested and charged with plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. She was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2016 but was eligible for parole from the end of this month.

However, after Mr Johnson’s remarks, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told she would be tried on new charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Defending Mr Johnson on Sunday, environment secretary Michael Gove himself drew criticism when he said he did not know why Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran at the time of her arrest.

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