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Jeremy Corbyn tries to block MPs from helping Theresa May break Brexit deadlock

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Jeremy Corbyn has sought to block Labour MPs from helping the government break a deadlock over Brexit, as the clock ticks down to 29 March.

The Labour leader instructed them not to “engage” with senior ministers until Theresa May takes the threat of “no-deal” off the table.

He asked them to “respect” his own position and “refrain” from contact designed to secure enough support from cross-party MPs to get an agreement passed in parliament.

The prime minister sought to pile pressure on him by writing a letter saying she was “disappointed” at his refusal to meet.

Theresa May makes a statement following winning a confidence vote
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Theresa May urged the Labour leader ‘sincerely’ to meet her

Labour MPs had spent Thursday meeting senior government figures.

Senior committee chairs Yvette Cooper and Hilary Benn emerged from top-level talks in the Cabinet Office to say they were unaware of Mr Corbyn’s instruction.

But Mr Benn told journalists they were “doing our job as parliamentarians”.

Asked if Mr Corbyn should have been there too, the Brexit select committee chair said: “That’s a decision for Jeremy to take.

“He’s demonstrating it’s not just the prime minister who can be stubborn.”

Mr Benn added the Labour leader was “quite right” to demand no-deal be ruled out.

Labour MPs Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper in Whitehall, London outside the Cabinet Office, after the Prime Minister announced that she would invite party leaders in the Commons and other MPs in for discussion to get a Parliamentary consensus on the way forward over Brexit.
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Labour MPs Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper met government ministers

Chuka Umunna, a backbench Labour MP, vowed to carry on engaging with the government because Brexit is “above party politics”.

Another told Sky News: “There are many people I look to for guidance as to who and who not to speak to. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t one of them.”

Mrs May wrote to the Labour leader herself to “sincerely” urge him to help her “reach a solution” with “little time left”.

She said: “You have always believed in the importance of dialogue in politics.

“Do you really believe that, as well as declining to meet for talks yourself, it is right to ask your MPs not to seek a solution with the government.”








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‘The government will listen’

It comes after Mr Corbyn gave a speech in Hastings, where he admitted that if the UK was facing the “potential disaster” of a no-deal divorce then Labour would look at supporting another referendum.

However, the Labour leader stressed his party would still prioritise trying to secure a general election or achieve a Brexit deal on the terms they have demanded.

He added that Labour would “come back again” with more “no-confidence” votes to topple the government, after losing the first bid on Wednesday.

Mrs May will reveal her Brexit plan B next Monday, after MPs emphatically rejected it by 230 votes.

She will then face a debate on it on Tuesday 29 January, with parliamentarians getting a second chance to amend and vote on it.

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