Theresa May’s proposal to hold Brexit deadlock talks with MPs from across the political spectrum has been branded “ludicrous” given that Jeremy Corbyn has not yet been invited.
In the wake of the crushing defeat of her Brexit deal in the Commons on Tuesday night, the prime minister pledged to reach out to leading parliamentarians from across the Commons to find a way forward.
But Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, said on Wednesday morning that the Labour leader had to come forward with ideas before he had been invited to talks with the PM.
“I don’t think she has written him off at all but he needs to come to the table and tell us what he wants to do,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
“He has not put forward any specific constructive proposal and that is a problem, which is why the prime minister will be engaging right across the House with those who do have very sincerely held views but want to constructively deliver on what the vast majority of parliamentarians voted for.”
Leadsom, a leading cabinet Brexiteer, said May would “not necessarily be looking for new ideas that no-one has thought of before”.
A No.10 spokesman said: “We are prepared to talk to anyone who can work constructively. I didn’t rule in or out any specific person.”
A Labour MP told HuffPost UK they overheard Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith discussing with senior loyalists including Patrick McLoughlin the need for May to open talks with Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit.
The conversation took place as loyal Tory MPs in the Commons smoking room following last night’s crushing defeat for the prime minister’s deal.
Labour said it was “obviously inaccurate” to claim the party did not have a plan for Brexit.
“We have been promoting it for months: a new customs union, a close relationship with the single market, no race to the bottom on rights,” the party tweeted.
May faces a vote of no confidence this evening, which she is expected to win, in the wake of her Brexit defeat.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and leading figures from the Brexiteer and pro-Europe wings of the Tory party have said they would back the PM, making it highly unlikely she will lose the vote.
With the UK scheduled to exit the EU in just over 10 weeks’ time on March 29, May has until next Monday to return to the Commons and present a “Plan B” option.
After suffering the the biggest government defeat on a meaningful vote for at least a century, which saw 118 Tory MPs rebel against their own party, opponents of the PM’s Brexit stance insisted Downing Street must now show real movement.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has said he “profoundly” regretted the vote by MPs on Tuesday.