Brexit Brief: Cross-party talks called off as rejection of May’s deal looms

High-stakes Brexit talks between the U.K. government and main opposition party collapsed on Friday without agreement, two weeks ahead of a fresh parliamentary vote on EU withdrawal.

The opposition Labour Party pulled out of talks on Friday morning, with leader Jeremy Corbyn writing to U.K. Prime Minister May to complain that the government’s instability, and its failure to make significant concessions, made a deal impossible, the Guardian reported.

May has pursued talks with the opposition party for six weeks, after her Brexit deal was voted down three times by parliament, including large numbers of her own MPs. But Labour has been frustrated she will not concede on their key demand, which is to establish a permanent customs union with the EU.

May has pledged to present her Brexit deal for parliament’s approval a fourth time in the coming weeks. If she is defeated once more, which now looks likely, sources told the BBC that it was “inconceivable” the prime minister could remain in office.

Following a meeting on May 16 with senior Conservative MPs, she reiterated her determination to get her Brexit deal through parliament but will make plans with the party to choose her successor in mid-June.

Former foreign secretary and pro-Brexit MP Boris Johnson has said he would stand in the Conservative leadership election.

The speculation over May’s future in office only added to Labour’s skepticism over a deal, because of their fear that her successor might immediately tear up whatever they agree.

Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP for Loughborough, told Financial News at the Bloomberg Gender Equality Summit in London that it is going to be “very challenging” to get the current deal through parliament.

“If we don’t get [the deal] through, then there has to be a change to get away from the paralysis of U.K. politics,” Morgan said.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, has called Brexit a “crushing disaster” for business in the United Kingdom as investor confidence plummets.

She has urged ministers to resolve the continuing gridlock, reported the Guardian, saying that “every day without a deal is corrosive” for the British economy.

“From the heart of business to the heart of politics, resolve this gridlock, do whatever it takes and do it fast,” Fairbairn added.

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