Corbyn warns May her real fight is with 'warring' Tory factions, not EU

Jeremy Corbyn claimed it was "Groundhog Day" over Brexit before warning Theresa May her biggest battle is with the "warring" Tory factions rather than the EU.

The Labour leader said the Prime Minister is "too weak" to do anything about it, adding this increases the prospect of "crashing out" with no deal.

Mr Corbyn's criticism came as Mrs May updated the Commons about the latest EU Council.

Mr Corbyn told MPs: "I'm beginning to feel a very worrying sense of Groundhog Day here every time she gives us an update on the progress of negotiations.

"Only two weeks ago she told this House that her speech in Florence had put momentum into the Article 50 negotiations, and that an agreement on phrase one of these talks was within touching distance.

"Well, here we are again after another round of talks and we're still no clearer as to when negotiations on Britain's future with our largest trading partner will actually begin, and still no clearer as to what exactly she has agreed to in phase one of these talks."

Mr Corbyn said the Brexit talks were "stuck in an impasse" and questioned Mrs May over remarks from International Trade Secretary Liam Fox about how leaving without a deal "would not be the Armageddon that people project".

The Labour leader asked: "Does the Prime Minister believe an outcome that is not Armageddon might be setting the bar a bit too low?"

He also pressed the PM to resolve the future of EU citizens living in the UK, and those Britons living in the EU member states, before asking about reports that she is willing to pay a higher amount as part of what has been referred to as the divorce bill.

Mr Corbyn added: "The Prime Minister hails the progress she has made so far in these negotiations.

"The biggest battle the Prime Minister faces isn't so much with the 27 European states the Chancellor so deftly described as the enemy, it's her battle to bring together the warring factions of her own Cabinet and party.

"And the Prime Minister is too weak to do anything about it. The outcome of crashing out with no deal to become a deregulated tax haven, the dream of a powerful faction of her backbenches and her frontbenches, would be a nightmare for people's jobs and living standards."

Mrs May, on the Brexit bill, said what she set out to the European Council was the same as what she outlined in her Florence speech last month.

She said: "You talked about us making no real progress. Well, we haven't reached a final agreement but it's going to happen.

"I'd have a degree of confidence that we'd be able to get to the point of sufficient progress by December."

Mrs May reiterated there is a "momentum" around the Brexit talks by repeating comments from European leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel.

The UK PM went on: "(Mr Corbyn) spent a long time in his response talking about no deal - I can only assume the Labour Party wants to talk about no deal because they simply don't know what sort of deal they would want.

"They can't decide whether they want to be in the single market or not, they can't decide whether they want to be in the customs union or not, they can't decide whether they want a second referendum or not, they can't decide whether they agree with free movement continuing or not, and - worse than all that - they say they'd take any deal whatever the price they were asked to pay.

"That's not the way to get a good deal for the UK, it's the way to get the worst possible deal for the UK."

SNP Westminster group leader Ian Blackford urged Mrs May to take the "no deal" option off the table, and said membership of the single market and customs union were "absolutely critical".

He said: "Businesses need certainty and we need to know the details of our future trading relationship and any transition deal before the end of the year.

"It is absolutely critical that we stay in the single market and the customs union.

"Will the Prime Minister end her Government's catastrophic ideological flirtation with a no deal scenario - take this off the table and do it today?"

Mrs May said that full membership of the single market and customs union "go with the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and freedom of movement".

She added: "These are issues which were voted against when people voted to leave the European Union - they would effectively mean that we would remain in the European Union and we are going to leave in March 2019."


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