UK Politics

Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn 'reaches out' to Tory MPs over Norway plan

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Media captionCorbyn on Brexit: We are looking at all the options

Jeremy Corbyn has said he is "looking at all the options" to prevent a no-deal Brexit after he met Tory MPs to discuss alternatives to the PM's deal if it rejected again by Parliament.

The Labour leader held talks with ex-Tory ministers Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin, who favour a closer, Norway-style relationship with the EU.

He said he had discussed the so-called "Common Market 2.0 option" but would not commit to backing it at this stage.

The UK is due to leave on 29 March.

MPs will vote on whether to back Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday.

They emphatically rejected the terms of withdrawal negotiated by the prime minister in January.

If they do so again, they will get to choose between leaving without a negotiated agreement or deferring the UK's exit date by an unspecified period.

Conservative MPs have been warned by the chief whip that if they vote down the deal and the negotiations are extended, they risk ending up with a "softer Brexit".

'Ideas and options'

The Labour leadership wants the UK to remain in a customs union with the EU.

Many Labour MPs and some Conservatives back an even closer arrangement with the European Union - dubbed the "Common Market 2.0" plan - which would see the UK remain in the EU's single market by staying part of the European Economic Area.

Mr Corbyn said he had agreed to meet the Conservative MPs because he was adamantly opposed to a no-deal exit and he wanted to hear "what their ideas and options are".

"I am reaching out to all groups in Parliament to try and prevent a no-deal Brexit which I think would be very damaging," he said after the meeting. "We are looking at all the options."

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While Labour wanted an agreement encompassing customs union, unhindered access to EU markets and legal protection of workers rights "what exact form that takes is subject to negotiation".

Asked if he would throw his weight behind the Boles-Letwin plan and oblige Labour MPs to vote for it, he said they were "quite a long way from that at this stage".

"We are obviously discussing it but our priority at the moment is preventing a no-deal exit".

In an article for the Mirror newspaper, Mr Corbyn said a close economic relationship was "the best Brexit compromise for both 17 million leave voters and 16 million remain voters".

While he respected the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum, he reiterated that Labour would back another EU referendum "to prevent a damaging Tory Brexit or a disastrous no deal outcome."

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