The Prime Minister spoke out after Jeremy Corbyn sent a letter to Mrs May, informing her Labour was pulling the plug on the discussions. He said talks over breaking the Brexit impasse “have gone as far as they can go” due to “the increasing weakness and instability” of the Government. The Labour leader also told the Prime Minister “we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us”.
He added the prospect of a change in Tory leadership meant the Government was becoming “ever more unstable and its authority eroded” and Labour could not be confident in any cross-party agreement being delivered.
But Theresa May has quickly hit back, and speaking in Bristol, blamed Labour for the breakdown in talks.
She said: “As Jeremy Corbyn says, these talks have been constructive and we have made progress.
“There have been areas where we have been able to find common ground but other issues have proved to be more difficult.
Brexit LATEST: Theresa May has blamed Labour after cross-party talks collpsed
We haven’t been able to overcome a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit, or hold a second referendum, which could reverse it
“But we haven’t been able to overcome a common position in Labour about whether they want to deliver Brexit, or hold a second referendum, which could reverse it.”
The Prime Minister added: “When we come to bring the legislation forward, we will think carefully about the outcome of these talks.
“We will also see whether we have some votes to see if the ideas that have come through command a majority in the House of Commons.
But when MPs come to vote on the Bill, they will be faced with a stark choice – vote to deliver on the referendum and vote to deliver Brexit, or to shy away again from delivering Brexit with all the uncertainty that would leave.”
The latest twist comes after Mrs May promised to set a timetable for leaving Downing Street following the next Brexit vote at the start of June.
Rival Boris Johnson also formally announced his intention to stand for Tory leadership and therefore would be in the running to become the next Prime Minister.
SEE BELOW FOR LIVE BREXIT UPDATES:
Brexit LATEST: Theresa May faces a crucial few weeks ahead
12.12pm update: Choices become ‘significantly more unpalatable’ if Brexit legislation rejected – source
If MPs don’t pass legislation to ratify Brexit before Parliament breaks for the summer, the choices available will become “significantly more unpalatable”, a source in Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said on Friday.
The government is planning to bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement bill for a debate and to be voted on in the week beginning June 3, but Labour and rebel Tories have vowed to oppose it.
The source told Reuters: “If the Withdrawal Agreement Bill isn’t through by summer recess then the choice will become significantly more unpalatable because the arguments about ‘no deal’ and whether or not to revoke Article 50 entirely will become more vociferous.”
11.55am update: Corbyn hints he may negotiate with new Tory Prime Minister
When asked if he could do business with a new Conservative Prime Minister, such as Boris Johnson, the Labour leader said: “Whoever the Tory Party decide is going to be their leader we will put our case and we will challenge them.”
Referring to the cross-party talks, Mr Corbyn added: “It was not shadow boxing.
“We have negotiated seriously in them and my team has worked extremely hard and extremely responsibly on this.”
11.50am update: Farage – “Why would Corbyn help the Tory Party?”
When asked about Labour’s decision to pull out of Brexit talks with the Conservatives, Mr Farage said: “Jeremy Corbyn was never going to come to an agreement on this. Why would he help the Tory Party?
“I think more interesting is what Corbyn said last night about Labour’s position on a second referendum. They are now 95 percent of the way towards being a second referendum party.
“Interestingly, the question they want to ask is a confirmatory referendum – and that would mean the existing European treaties or a new European treaty. And those of us that want to leave would have no one to vote for.
“That poses the Labour Party a massive problem in the Midlands, the North, and South Wales.”
11.45am update: Downing Street responds to Corbyn pulling out of talks
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We have made real progress on some issues such as workers’ rights and environmental protections, but it is clear that we are not going to be able to reach a complete agreement.
“In particular there have been very challenging discussions in respect of the different positions of the two sides on customs and the holding of a second referendum.
“The Prime Minister continues to believe it is the duty of elected politicians to deliver on the result of the referendum.
“She continues to work hard on securing the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill so that the UK can leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible.”
Brexit LATEST: Jeremy Corbyn has ended cross-party talks with Theresa May
11.15am update: Business chief rages at breakdown of Brexit talks
National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Mike Cherry said: “Nearly two months after we were supposed to leave the EU, we find ourselves no closer to a solution to this political mess.
“The breakdown of cross-party talks is just another chapter in what is becoming a litany of failures during the Brexit process.
“When small businesses asked for leadership, pragmatism and pace in delivering a pro-business deal, politicians responded by offering more of the same.
“More of the same just doesn’t cut it for our small firms anymore. We are the ones dealing with the realities of this mess – planning decisions cancelled, investment stalled and growth going backwards.
“Ongoing uncertainty is damaging the economy, holding back productivity and battering small business confidence. We simply cannot see this continue through to the end of October.”
11.11am update: Corbyn comments on ending cross-party talks with May
Speaking in North London, the Labour leader said: “I have just written a letter to the Prime Minister to say these talks have now reached what I believe to be a natural conclusion.
“The Prime Minister has announced the date she’s leaving, there have been increasing noises off stage by Conservative Cabinet ministers and others who don’t agree with much of the talks or any of the discussions we are holding, so we are concluding the talks.
“The Government has not moved its position fundamentally. There are fundamental disagreements.”
Referring to the prospect of indicative votes, the Labour leader said: “This is a novel process which we will obviously look at whenever it comes to Parliament.”
11.08am update: Reaction to breakdown of talks between May and Corbyn
Former International Development Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Many of us did question the judgment of the Cabinet when they approved those talks.”
The post quote-tweeted a post from campaigner Darren Grimes who described the talks as “a complete waste of time from the outset”.
Brexit LATEST: Farage questioned why Corbyn would ever help the Conservatives
10.53am update: Corbyn ENDS cross-party talks with May – letter REVEALED
“Dear Prime Minister.
I am writing to let you know that I believe the talks between us about finding a compromise agreement on leaving the European Union have now gone as far as they can.
I would like to put on record that the talks have been conducted in good faith on both sides and thank those involved for their efforts to find common ground.
The talks have been detailed, constructive and have involved considerable effort for both our teams.
However, it has become clear that, while there are some areas where compromise has been possible, we have been unable to bridge important policy gaps between us.
Even more crucially, the increasing weakness and instability of your government means there cannot be confidence in securing whatever might be agreed between us.
As I said when we met on Tuesday evening, there has been growing concern in both the Shadow Cabinet and parliamentary Labour Party about the government’s ability to deliver on any compromise agreement.
As you have been setting out your decision to stand down and Cabinet ministers are competing to succeed you, the position of the government has become ever more unstable and its authority eroded. Not infrequently, proposals by your negotiating team have been publicly contradicted by statements from other members of the Cabinet.
In recent days we have heard senior Cabinet ministers reject any form of customs union, regardless of proposals made by government negotiators. And despite assurances we have been given on protection of environmental, food and animal welfare standards, the International Trade Secretary has confirmed that importing chlorinated chicken as part of a US trade deal remains on the table.
After six weeks of talks, it is only right that the Government now wishes again to test the will of Parliament, and we will carefully consider any proposals the Government wishes to bring forward to break the Brexit deadlock.
However, I should reiterate that, without significant changes, we will continue to oppose the government’s deal as we do not believe it safeguards jobs, living standards and manufacturing industry in Britain.
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Corbyn.”
10.46am update: Bookies SLASH ODDS on Boris Johnson being next Tory leader
Coral has cut the odds on Boris Johnson being the next Conservative leader to 2/1 (from 5/2) as punters pile in money after Theresa May agreed a timetable of the election of her successor.
The former Foreign Secretary is followed by Dominic Raab (5/1), Jeremy Hunt (8/1) and Michael Gove (10/1).
Coral’s Harry Aitkenhead said: “We’ve known May’s time in office is limited but now we are a whole lot nearer to her departure.
“We have taken a host of bets in the last 24 hours on who will be the next Tory leader and it’s Boris who’s attracting all the support.
“It’s clear that punters think BoJo’s time has finally come,”
10.40am update: Five motions proposed for indicative votes NEXT WEEK in May and Corbyn’s plan REVEALED
1. Brexit deal
The UK should leave the European Union with a deal.
2. Before summer recess
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill should receive Royal Assent by the summer recess to enable the UK to leave the EU on July 31.
A customs arrangement combining the benefits of a customs union (no tariffs or quantitative restrictions) as well as no checks on rules of origin when goods are moved between the UK and EU, with the UK able to determine its own trade policy and international development policy.
A customs union covering goods and services, including the UK having a say in EU trade policy, at least until alternative arrangements that maintain as close as frictionless trade as opssiblew with the EU and no hard border in Ireland has been agreed.
Customs union covering both goods and services, including a UK say in EU trade policy.
A comprehensive customs union covering both goods and services including a UK say in EU trade policy.
4. No People’s vote
The deal should not be subject to a second referendum.
5. The package agreed with Labour
Parliament must approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU and approve the treaty governing that relationship before the Government signs it.
The UK should seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible, subject to the UK being outside the Single Market and ending free movement, to protect jobs in just-in-time supply chains.
In order to deliver as close to frictionless trade in goods as possible, the UK should dynamically align with those EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border.
The UK should seek the fullest possible participation in EU tools and measures that protect citizens’ security.
The UK should seek the fullest possible participation in key EU agencies, including the European Medicines Agency, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Chemicals Agency in relation to the economic partnership and Europol and Eurojust in relation to the security partnership.
Workers’ rights in the UK should be no less favourable than rights in the EU.
The UK’s withdrawal from the UK should not affect the level of environmental protection in the UK.
Brexit LATEST: Theresa May has promised to set a timetable for her own departure
9.58am update: ‘We can’t do a deal with a Government about to COLLAPSE’ – Labour source
Theresa May’s cross-party Brexit talks with Jeremy Corbyn have absolutely no chance of succeeding because her Government is on the verge of collapse, a Labour source has said.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: “There is zero chance of reaching an agreement at the moment.
“We can’t do a deal with a government that is about to collapse.”
9.42am update: Cyprus SNUBS UK for France in huge Brexit outburst
Cyprus has snubbed Britain and looked to Grance to help upgrade a key naval port, with Government officials accusing the UK of abandoning it to chase post-Brexit trade deals with its rival, Turkey.
Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides travelled to Paris this week to sign a deal to enable the Evangelos Florakis naval base near Zygi to host large military vessels.
Britain has sovereign control over the Akrotiri and Dhekelia military bases,
But Cyprus is now not confident it can rely on Britain to support it against perceived aggression from Turkey.
An unnamed Cypriot Government official told The Times: “The UK is taking care of post-Brexit deals and building bridges with countries like Turkey, but we cannot accept Turkey’s attack on Cyprus’s sovereign rights.
Angelos Chryssogelos, an associate fellow at Chatham House think tank in London, added: “France is stepping into an area of traditional UK influence which tells us a lot about Britain’s distraction over Brexit — the UK was once a leading voice in European energy security, but no longer.”
Brexit LATEST: Boris Johnson is the bookies’ favourite to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader
9.30am update: Teaming with Brexit Party would be ‘DEATH KNELL’ for Tories
Former Conservative Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan has warned aligning with the Brexit Party would be the “death knell” for the Conservatives.
She said entering into an electoral agreement with Nigel Farage’s newly-launched party is not the way to progress, despite contrary suggestions from Conservative MP Crispin Blunt earlier this week.
Ms Morgan told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I completely disagree with Crispin on that – I think that would be the death knell for the Conservative Party.
“I think it’s absolutely not the way forward.”
8.50am update: Sturgeon rages Boris becoming PM would ‘HORRIFY many people across Scotland’
Scottish First Minister has warned support for an independent Scotland would increase if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister.
Nicola Sturgeon was asked what impact the former Foreign Secretary would have on the debate if he became the next leader of the Conservative Party.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It would lead to many more people thinking that the best future for Scotland is be to be independent.”
Ms Sturgeon, who also described Mr Johnson as a “complete and utter charlatan” and the prospect of him becoming Prime Minister was one that would “horrify many people across Scotland”.
8.27am update: Tories languishing slump to FIFTH in latest European elections poll
The Liberal Democrats have overtaken Labour while the Tories are now languishing in fifth place, the latest European elections poll has revealed.
YouGov interviewed 7,192 British adults between Sunday and Thursday last week and when asked who they would support in the European elections, 35 percent said the Brexit Party – up a percentage point from the previous week.
The Liberal Democrats were second with 16 percent (up one percent), followed by Labour on 15 percent (down one percent), Greens on 10 percent (down one percent) and the Conservatives on nine percent (down one percent).
The sharp fall for the Tories will only increase panic throughout the party, with 62 percent of Conservative voters in the 2017 general election now saying they will vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections.
8.26am update: ‘Do whatever it takes, and do it FAST’, rages business boss
Businesses have suffered a “crushing disaster” because of the continued uncertainty over Brexit, with investor confidence at its lowest since the financial crash a decade ago, the CBI’s Director General has said.
Carolyn Fairbairn told business leaders in London the “paralysis” continuing “every day without a deal is corrosive” in its effect on the UK economy.
She said: “From the heart of business to the heart of politics, resolve this gridlock, do whatever it takes and do it fast.
The Director General added the CBI’s surveys show intentions to invest were “at their lowest since the financial crash”.
They also showed stockpiling is at its highest levels since the 1950s, with businesses sinking hundreds of millions into contingency plans with “no upside”.
She added: “Business needs pace, decisions, leadership, measured in days and weeks, not months and years.”
Brexit LATEST: Nicola Sturgeon launched a scathing attack against Boris Johnson
8.13am update: Labour HUMILIATED as BBC Question Time audience LAUGH at party’s Brexit position
Labour suffered embarrassment last night after its Scottish leader was laughed at by BBC Question Time audience members when trying to explain his party’s position on Brexit.
Richard Leonard, a member of the Scottish Parliament, claimed voters should back Labour to stop a no-deal Brexit.
Addressing the audience Mr Leonard said: “We’ve had three years since the referendum, two years of failed negotiation and one bad deal presented by Theresa May.
“The test next Thursday is whether people are prepared to countenance a no-deal Brexit or not.
“The choice will be between an insurgent Brexit Party or defeating them, and defeating what they stand for.
“Now my view is the best way to do that is to vote Labour next week.”
At this point a section of the Question Time audience began laughing.
8.05am update: Second referendum now most likely – Hillary Benn
Another referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union is more likely if talks between the Conservatives and Labour collapse, Hilary Benn has claimed.
The chairman of Parliament’s Brexit committee told BBC radio: “If the talks are not going anywhere, from my point of view that leads to only one conclusion.
“There are only two ways out of the Brexit crisis that we’ve got: either Parliament agrees a deal or we go back to the British people and ask them to make the choice.
“And I think this brings the prospect of a confirmatory referendum closer although there’s not yet a majority for that in Parliament.”