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Open and frank debate needed to break Brexit deadlock

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Labour’s Brexit secretary is calling for an “open and frank debate” to break the Commons deadlock.

Sir Keir Starmer will say there are “no easy routes” out of the current crisis in a speech to the Fabian Society’s new year conference in London on Saturday.

In the aftermath of Theresa May’s crushing defeat over the EU withdrawal plan Sir Keir will also say it is now up to Parliament to take the “difficult decisions” needed to end the stalemate.

Theresa May
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Theresa May suffered the biggest Commons defeat in history

His plea comes in opposition to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn again refusing to meet Mrs May to discuss the way forward unless she takes a “no-deal” Brexit option off the table.

He branded talks with leaders of other parties “not genuine” after Downing Street made clear the prime minister would not accept a customs union in the EU.

Mr Corbyn claims a customs union is “necessary” to gain parliament’s support for any new plan.

In a letter to his Tory counterpart on Friday evening Mr Corbyn grumbled about Mrs May ruling out an extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process or a second referendum.

“Whatever one thinks of those issues, that reinforces the view these are not genuine talks, but designed to play for time and give the appearance of reaching out, whilst sticking rigidly to your own emphatically rejected deal,” he wrote.

His letter came as it was reported Brexiteer cabinet ministers have warned Mrs May she risks splitting up the Conservative Party if she gives way to customs union calls.

Mrs May is at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, for the weekend to work on a statement to MPs setting out her plan.

Sir Keir will blame Mrs May for having offered the UK “false hope and false promises” in his speech.

“It’s now time for an open and frank debate about how we break the deadlock,” he will say.

“There are no easy routes out of the mess this Government has got us into on Brexit.

“Difficult decisions are going to have to be made by parliament.

“Now is the time for an honest debate and for credible solutions to emerge.”

Earlier on Friday, Tory MP Nick Boles warned ministers were set to resign if the government tries to block handing power to MPs to block a no-deal Brexit.

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