Labour: Theresa May needs to offer 'real change' to her Brexit deal

Downing Street said it was prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver an acceptable divorce plan

The Labour Party has urged Theresa May to offer a real change to her Brexit deal after Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn held discussions with the British prime minister about departure plans.

“We are disappointed that the government has not offered real change or compromise,” a party spokesperson said in a statement.

“We urge the prime minister to come forward with genuine changes to her deal in an effort to find an alternative that can win support in parliament and bring the country together,” the party added.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: "So far, the government isn't proposing any changes to the deal. In particular it's not countenancing any changes to the actual wording of the political declaration."

Responding to Labour's comments, a Downing Street spokesperson said that the Mrs May was prepared to pursue changes to the political declaration in order to deliver a deal that both parties can accept.

“We are ready to hold further detailed discussions this weekend in order to seek any such changes in the run up to European Council on Wednesday," the spokesperson said. "The Government is determined to work constructively to deliver the Brexit people voted for, and avoid participation in the European Parliamentary elections.”

Earlier on Friday, Mrs May requested Brussels grant a further extension to the country's departure from the European Union until June 30.

In a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk, Mrs May said that if both sides had agreed a withdrawal deal before that date, then Britain should be able to leave earlier.

Last month, the EU granted the UK a Brexit delay until April 12 - two weeks later than the original leave date of March 29. Brussels said if the divorce deal negotiated by Mrs May was passed before then, Brexit could be delayed until May 22.

Parliament has so far rejected Mrs May's deal three times and failed to find consensus on a series of alternative options.

"This impasse cannot be allowed to continue," Mrs May wrote, citing her talks with Labour's Jeremy Corbyn as the reason for the extension.

The EU has already denied a previous request by Mrs May for an extension until June 30.

Earlier on Friday, British media reported that Mr Tusk was planning to propose a one year "flextension" of Brexit, which would delay the leave date for 12 months but could be ended sooner in the event that a deal was agreed.

Any extension request must be agreed by the leaders of all 27-member states of the EU.

Britain's foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said neither side wanted a long extension and that the government was leaving "no stone unturned" in its attempts to end the impasse.

“I don’t think the EU member states want a long extension. We certainly don’t want a long extension,” Mr Hunt said.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would do everything in her power to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

But other EU leaders, such as France's Emmanuel Macron, have said there needs to be a clear reason for an extension to be granted.

Many in the bloc are uncomfortable with the prospect of Britain taking part in upcoming European Parliament elections.

In her letter, Mrs May said she "accepts the European Council's view that if the United Kingdom were still a member state of the European Union on 23 May 2019, it would be under a legal obligation to hold the elections".

But she said it would be in the best interests of both sides for Britain not to take part.

EU leaders are meeting on April 10 at an emergency summit on Brexit to decide what steps to take going forward.