May and Corbyn disagree over ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn in ‘Battle for Number 10’ TV show on Sky News and Channel 4. [Sky News]

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would walk away from divorce talks with the European Union without a deal if she had to but her rival in next week’s election, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, said he would make sure an agreement was reached if he won power.

British voters will go to the polls on 8 June that will decide whether May, from the centre-right Conservatives, or Corbyn of the leftist Labour Party, gets to sit down with Brussels and hammer out an exit deal that will define the country’s trade and diplomatic ties with the EU.

Deal for orderly Brexit a must, says EU lead negotiator

Failure to strike a deal that ushers Britain out of the European Union in an orderly way is not an option Brussels wants to consider, its chief negotiator said yesterday (22 June) as the EU gave a final green light for him to launch talks next month.

Their differing stances could set the tone for what both the UK and the EU expect will be two years of difficult talks on everything from how much cash should be paid upon exit, to border arrangements for migrants, goods and services.

UK could escape post-Brexit EU bill if no deal agreed, say British lawmakers

If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without agreeing an exit deal it will not be legally obliged to contribute to the bloc’s budget post-Brexit, a committee of members of Britain’s upper house of parliament said on Saturday (4 March).

May is expected to win comfortably but her party’s lead in opinion polls has narrowed sharply in the last week, calling into question her decision to call the unscheduled election seeking a strong endorsement of her Brexit strategy.

One poll published today (30 May) showed her lead had been cut to 6 percentage points from 9 points a week ago and 18 points two weeks ago as voters reacted badly to the Conservatives’ manifesto.

The two party leaders’ differences on how to handle talks with Brussels came to the fore last night during the main televised event of the campaign, in which they separately fielded questions from the public and were then interviewed.

“We will be there to negotiate the right deal but what I have said is that no deal is better than a bad deal. We have to be prepared to walk out,” she said to applause during the Sky News interview.

May had previously expressed her willingness to walk away from talks, warning that Brussels could seek to punish Britain to deter other EU states from leaving by taking a hardline stance.

But Corbyn set out a different approach.

UK Labour's election manifesto and Brexit plan leaked

Britain’s opposition Labour Party will not walk away from Brexit talks without a deal if it wins next month’s election, according to a leaked draft manifesto published by several newspapers.

When asked whether he would contemplate a scenario where Britain failed to strike an arrangement with the rest of the bloc, Jeremy Corbyn said: “There’s going to be a deal.”

“We will make sure there is a deal.”

With polls showing May is more trusted to deliver Brexit than Corbyn, she will look to keep the election debate tightly focused on the upcoming talks, seeking to recover from a backlash to her plans to make elderly voters pay more towards the cost of their old age care.

At a campaign event on today she is expected to warn that the EU has taken an aggressive stance on the negotiations, and that she needs the strong endorsement of the British public to fight for a good exit deal.

'Sceptical' Juncker fears Theresa May is living 'in another galaxy'

UK Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday (1 May) insisted that negative reports about her talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are just “Brussels gossip”, after a German newspaper released a damning appraisal of their meeting.

May was heckled and laughed at by some members of the audience at Monday’s TV appearance when discussing her education policy, and when interviewer Jeremy Paxman asked whether the EU would see her as a “blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire” after she softened her plans on old age care.

“What the people in Brussels look at is the record I had negotiating with them … and delivering for this country on a number of issues on justice and home affairs which people said we were never going to get,” May replied, citing her record as interior minister between 2010 and 2016.

UK manufacturers urge May to drop threat of no Brexit deal

Britain’s manufacturers told Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday (27 March) to drop her threat that she might take the country out of the European Union without a new trade deal, saying they would bear the brunt of trade barriers with the EU.

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