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With low expectations, UK Conservatives and Labour resume Brexit talks

LONDON: Britain’s Conservative government and the opposition Labour Party resumed Brexit talks on Tuesday to try to find a way to break the deadlock in parliament over the country’s departure from the European Union.

After Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal was rejected three times and she was forced to delay Brexit, the government has spent more than four weeks in talks with Labour — negotiations that have done little to soften positions in either party.

So far, there has been no agreement and few held out any hope of a breakthrough. The government on Tuesday also conceded Britain would take part in European elections this month, a poll which could deliver more bruising results to both major parties.

Almost three years since Britain voted to leave the EU, there is little clarity about how, when or even if Brexit will happen.

David Lidington, May’s de facto deputy, said despite taking part in the elections to the European Parliament on May 23, there was still time to avoid those elected taking their seats.

“Ideally we would like to be in a situation where those MEPs from the UK never actually take their seats in the European Parliament, certainly to get this done and dusted by the summer recess,” he said, referring to parliament’s summer break which usually begins in the second half of July.

May deeply regretted the move, her spokesman said, describing the prime minister as determined to find a way to get a deal to leave the EU over the line. The Labour talks are an attempt by May to find a new path to what she calls “a stable majority” for a deal.

Earlier, May told her cabinet last week’s local elections, when the Conservatives lost hundreds of council seats, underlined the need to get on with Brexit.

“The prime minister said that while an agreement with the opposition had not been reached, the public had sent a clear message in the local elections that they want both of the main parties to get on with delivering Brexit,” her spokesman said she told ministers.

However, many pro-EU lawmakers used the results of local elections to argue that the tide is turning against Brexit after the Liberal Democrats, who support opposed Brexit and want a second referendum, gained many council seats.

 

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