Jeremy Corbyn Walks Out Of Cross-Party Brexit Talks 'Because The Independent Group Attended'

Nicola Slawson

Jeremy Corbyn has walked out of cross-party talks about Brexit with Theresa May and other party leaders with the UK nine days away from leaving the EU.

The prime minister was meeting with the leaders of the SNP, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to discuss her decision to request a delay to Brexit.

The Labour leader is said to have refused to take part in the opposition party talks because members of the breakaway Independent Group were present, according to other leaders. 

However a Labour spokesman said he left the meeting because it “wasn’t the meeting that had been agreed”.

He said: “The terms were broken. Downing Street is in such chaos that they were unable to manage their own proposed meeting.

“We are in discussions with Number No10 about holding the bilateral meeting with the PM that Jeremy proposed at PMQs.” 

The move has been met with criticism by others present.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “That is rather a strange way to behave in a national crisis.”

Chuka Umunna, spokesman for The Independent Group, said: “I think it is really extraordinary behaviour for the leader of the opposition to behave in really this kind of very juvenile way when the moment demands that we all step up and engage in some serious dialogue to find a way through this chaos and this mess.”

Chris Leslie, a member of the Independent Group, described Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to engage in talks as “astonishing” and “petty”.

He tweeted: “Astonishing. Yet again @jeremycorbyn puts petty party politics before the national interest.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald has told Jeremy Corbyn to “get a grip” after his refusal to engage in talks with the Independent Group present.

He tweeted: “I mean honestly, nine days until the country he wants to be Prime Minister of leaves the EU and @jeremycorbyn has gone full ‘you can’t sit with us’.

“This isn’t Mean Girls. Get a grip of your life, man!”

Corbynite journalist Paul Mason, however, praised the Labour leader for not taking part. 

He said in a tweet: “I love that Corbyn walked out of the meeting because Umunna was there. Finally the elite are going to realise: Labour is an insurrection against neoliberalism, not part of your cheese and biscuits circuit...” 

In the meeting, May is said to have restated her case for her deal without entertaining any of the alternatives suggested. She also reportedly suggested the third meaningful vote could take place on Monday.

Speaking after the meeting, Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru’s leader at Westminster, told Politics Home that May was “still refusing to accept reality”. 

She said: “She remains astonishingly intransigent, and continues to try to bully MPs into a choice between her deal or no deal.

“In order to find an approach that can command the support of Parliament, the Prime Minister must accept that her strategy of a false binary option will not work.

“With the calamity of a no deal being only nine days away, she now more than ever must seek genuine compromise across the House.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

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