Belfast Telegraph

Corbyn sat down with IRA without pre-conditions but won't meet me on Brexit, says May

Theresa May asked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn why he was prepared to meet the IRA without pre-conditions but not talk to her on Brexit on a similar footing.

She made the comments in the House of Commons as the Labour leader pressed her on taking a no-deal Brexit off the table and if she would reverse her policy on no customs union with the EU.

The Prime Minister has asked MPs from across the Commons to meet with her. However, Mr Corbyn has rejected the invitation until she rules out a no deal possibility on the UK's departure.

Mr Corbyn said that while her door may be open, "minds were closed".

He said: "After the overwhelming defeat of her deal, the Prime Minister says she wants solutions to the Brexit crisis that command sufficient support in the House.

"The Chancellor and Business Secretary agree, and I quote, there is a large majority opposed to no deal, so will the Prime Minister listen to her own Cabinet members and take no deal off the table?"

Mrs May said the way to avoid no deal was to work with her to agree a deal and asked why Mr Corbyn refused to meet her without pre-conditions. She said the way to avoid no deal was to work with her.

"He has been willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA without pre-conditions, yet he won't meet me to talk about Brexit," she told MPs.

Mr Corbyn urged Mrs May to confirm whether she rules out a customs union with the European Union, to which the PM said she wants to sit down with the Labour leader to work out his plans on the issue.

She said: "If he won't talk about it there's only one conclusion - he hasn't got a clue."

In his concluding remarks, Mr Corbyn also told the Commons: "The door of her office might be open but the minds are closed and the Prime Minister is clearly not listening.

"She has shown no flexibility whatsoever.

He went on: "Across the country people are worried about public services, their living standards and rising levels of personal debt.

"While a third of her Government are at the billionaires' jamboree in Davos, she says she's listening but rules out changes on the two issues where there might be a majority - against no-deal and for a customs union, part of Labour's sensible Brexit alternative.

"If the Prime Minister is serious about finding a solution, which of her red lines is she prepared to abandon?"

Mrs May fired back to Mr Corbyn: "He makes claims about minds being closed, he asks about red lines - why doesn't he just come and talk about it?

"He talks about people up and down this country and what they're seeing.

"Well, let me tell him what we've just seen this week: borrowing this year at its lowest level for 16 years; the IMF saying that we'll grow faster than Germany, Italy and Japan this year; UN figures showing foreign direct investment in the UK up last year; employment rate up, number of people in work up, wages up; and the biggest threat to all of that would be a Labour government."

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