The Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has insisted there is ‘no chance’ of Theresa May accepting Labour’s vision for leaving the EU – despite speculation the prime minister could soften her stance on customs union membership.
As the prime minister prepares to update MPs on the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations on Tuesday afternoon – a day earlier than expected – Andrea Leadsom dismissed the prospect of May adopting Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘world view’.
Speaking to the Press Association the Commons leader insisted she would stay in the cabinet to help May deliver Brexit and denied that the PM was softening her stance over a customs union in a letter to Corbyn.
May’s reply sparked concern among Conservative Brexiteers that the PM could concede too much ground to Labour in an attempt to win cross-party backing for a deal with Brussels.
Leadsom said: ‘I think she’s making quite clear that what Corbyn is demanding is actually not as good as what the prime minister’s deal is offering.
‘So he wants a customs union and he is unclear as to whether that means he also wants an independent trade policy.
‘He’s unclear as to whether he also wants to stop free movement, and of course the EU’s view would be, ‘well, if you’re in the customs union then you have free movement and you abide by the common external tariff’.
‘I think there’s no doubt that what the prime minister is offering is better than what Corbyn is demanding, which simply begs the question, if they like it, why don’t they vote for it?’
Leadsom said there was ‘no chance’ May would adopt Corbyn’s ‘view of the world’, adding: ‘The prime minister has been absolutely clear we’re leaving the EU, we’re leaving the customs union, we’re leaving the single market.
‘We’re taking back control, we won’t be paying money over, free movement will end, and we will have our own independent free trade policy, so I definitely don’t see the prime minister agreeing to Corbyn’s world view.’
The Brexiteer frontbencher refused to say what the cut-off date would be for the necessary legislation to get through the Commons to allow the UK to leave the EU as planned on March 29.
She said it was possible to pass bills ‘quite quickly’ with ‘goodwill’ from the Commons and Lords, but added: ‘It’s just not possible to say how quickly it could be done, but obviously it depends on the way in which there is adequate debate on the meaningful vote and that’s what the prime minister is determined to do.
‘(It) is to make sure that parliamentarians have had ample opportunity to look at the deal she’s putting forward before it comes to that meaningful vote.’