Theresa May has issued a rallying cry to MPs urging them to support cross-party efforts to “break the deadlock” and get a Brexit deal through the Commons.
The Prime Minister said she understood why some of her colleagues found the decision to hold talks with Labour “uncomfortable”, and admitted it was not what she wanted either.
But she said the crushing blow voters delivered on both parties at the local elections had given “fresh urgency” to the need to end the impasse.
Mrs May urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to work with her to reach a deal, writing in the Mail on Sunday: “To the leader of the opposition, I say this: let’s listen to what the voters said in the elections and put our differences aside for a moment. Let’s do a deal.”
She said: “I negotiated with the EU what I believe is a very good deal for the UK – a deal which allows us to genuinely take back control of our money and our laws.
“The free movement of people will end – giving us control of our own borders for the first time in decades.
We will keep negotiating, and keep trying to find a way throughTheresa May
“However, I could not persuade enough of my colleagues to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement and, regrettably, I have to accept there is no sign of that position changing.”
She continued: “Since then, the Government has been in talks with the Opposition to try to find a unified, cross-party position.
“I understand many of my colleagues find this decision uncomfortable. Frankly, it is not what I wanted, either.
“But we have to find a way to break the deadlock – and I believe the results of the local elections give fresh urgency to this.
“We will keep negotiating, and keep trying to find a way through. Because the real thing that matters now is delivering Brexit and moving on to all the other issues people care about.
“The longer that takes, the greater the risk we will not leave at all. We need to get out of the EU and get a deal over the line.”
It comes as Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said a deal between the two parties could be done in the new few days, telling reporters at her party’s conference in Aberdeen: “We are getting closer and closer.
“There’s not that much between the two parties as I understand it from people in the room.”
With talks between Labour and the Tories expected to resume early next week, the Sunday Times reported that Mrs May was prepared to give ground in three areas: customs, goods alignment and workers’ rights.
The paper said the Prime Minister would put forward plans for a comprehensive but temporary customs arrangement with the EU that would last until the next general election.
It came as more than 100 opposition MPs from five parties wrote to the PM and Mr Corbyn to say they would not support a “Westminster stitch-up” and would vote against a customs union unless it is put to a referendum.
The MPs said: “The very worst thing we could do at this time is a Westminster stitch-up whether over the PM’s deal or another deal. This risks alienating both those who voted leave in 2016 and those who voted remain.”
Elsewhere, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage warned Mrs May against agreeing a customs deal with Mr Corbyn, telling the Telegraph: “If the Tories do a deal with Labour on the customs union they will be going into coalition with the Opposition against the people.”
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, told the same paper that staying in a customs union could lead to a “catastrophic split” in the Conservative Party at a time when the opposition is led by “dangerous extremists”.