Theresa May refuses to rule out no-deal Brexit as she survives confidence vote

Jeremy Corbyn rebuffs prime minister’s invite to talks on the UK’s exit from the EU

British prime minister Theresa May said the Labour Party had yet to discuss a new approach to Brexit with her, unlike other party leaders. Video: 10 Downing Street


Theresa May’s hopes of reaching a cross-party deal on Brexit suffered a blow on Wednesday night when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to meet her until she ruled out leaving the European Union without a deal.

The prime minister invited opposition party leaders to talks about Brexit immediately after defeating a motion of no confidence in her government.

Mr Corbyn said for any such cross-party exercise to succeed the government must recognise that a majority of MPs opposed a no-deal Brexit.

“Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward the government must remove, clearly and once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU, and all the chaos that would come as a result of that.”


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The prime minister refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit, and she restated her opposition to being part of a customs union with the EU, a central element of Labour’s Brexit policy. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mrs May said she had held constructive meetings with the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and the Westminster leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, and would start meeting other MPs on Thursday.

“I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not so far chosen to take part – but our door remains open. It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done,” she said.

The Daily Telegraph published the transcript of a conference call with business leaders on Tuesday during which chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond said that MPs would almost certainly vote to rule out a no-deal Brexit. And he acknowledged that “very clearly removing the Irish backstop arrangements cannot be negotiated” with the EU as part of any Brexit deal.

Insurers and brokers

The no confidence motion was defeated by 325 votes to 306, a margin of 19 votes that would have been eliminated if the DUP’s 10 MPs had voted against the government. Sylvia Hermon, the Independent MP for North Down, also voted with the government.

In Ireland, insurers and brokers are preparing to issue so-called “green cards” to motorists planning to travel to the UK, including to Northern Ireland, from the beginning of March in what will be one of the first tangible impacts a no-deal’ Brexit is likely to have.

In the event that the UK crashes out of the EU without an agreement all motor vehicles travelling between the Republic and Northern Ireland and Britain will require the document to prove they have valid motor insurance in this jurisdiction.

As many as 400,000 green cards are being sent by the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland to insurance companies and brokers this week, and any motorists who wish to drive their car anywhere in the UK will need to apply for the documentation a month before their planned departure to ensure they get it in time.

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