Theresa May accuses Labour of Brexit betrayal amid claims she is 'incapable'

Theresa May accuses Labour of Brexit betrayal amid claims she is 'incapable'
Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon. Pic: PA Wire

Theresa May accused Labour of betraying Britons over Brexit as she faced calls to put the country ahead of her Cabinet's "oversized egos".

The British Prime Minister attacked Jeremy Corbyn's latest policy after he confirmed the Opposition will back a "new and comprehensive" UK-EU customs union to ensure tariff-free trade.

But the Labour leader hit back, insisting Ms May is "incapable" of delivering a "coherent and decisive plan" for Brexit due to divisions in her Government.

He also questioned Boris Johnson's remarks over the Irish border, to which the PM insisted she and the Foreign Secretary are "absolutely committed" to ensuring there is no hard border.

Brexit dominated the leaders' exchanges at Prime Minister's Questions for a second successive week, having barely featured in previous outings.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms May said she was left confused by Mr Corbyn's speech on Labour wanting to "negotiate a new comprehensive customs union".

She said: "That would mean that we couldn't do our trade deals and actually it would betray the vote of the British people.

"In the next sentence he said he wanted a customs arrangement meaning we could negotiate our new trade deals - well that's the Government's position, so what's he want to do - let down the country or agree with the Government?"

Mr Corbyn, rising to ask his first question, took aim at Ms May's Brexit day and asked her to tell the country what "ambitious managed divergence" will mean.

He later said he understood Mrs May would make a Brexit speech on Friday and raised concerns of businesses and for the health service.

Mr Corbyn pressed the PM to outline which sectors of the Government want to remain aligned and which they plan to diverge.

Some Opposition MPs shouted at Ms May to question why she was making a separate speech outside Parliament, which prompted the PM to say: "Just calm down."

The PM said she had already set out the Government's position and would elaborate later in the week.

Mr Corbyn criticised Ms May for her "endless round of after-dinner speeches" on Europe and later attacked the Government's record on training health workers, adding it "doesn't seem to understand it takes eight years to train a doctor".

He said they were also "completely oblivious" to 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, adding: "I suggest some members get a life and go and visit a hospital and see just how hard those people work in order to cover for the vacancies that are there."

Turning to the Irish border, Mr Corbyn noticed Mr Johnson was shouting at him and joked: "He's obviously mixing up the border with the Camden-Islington border."

Mrs May, in her reply, told MPs: "He said it takes eight years to train a doctor - well, if he's worried about the number of doctors there are now, eight years ago it was a Labour government that was deciding how doctors were going to be trained."

On the border, she said: The Foreign Secretary and I are absolutely committed to ensuring that we deliver on no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"That's the position of the UK Government, it's the position of the parties in Northern Ireland, it's the position of the Irish Government and it was what we agreed in the December agreement of that joint report.

"We are all committed to ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland."

Mr Corbyn questioned why Mr Johnson in private correspondence with Mrs May was seeking to "do the opposite" over the border.

He added: "The Government is so divided that the Prime Minister is incapable of delivering a coherent and decisive plan for Brexit.

"So when is she going to put the country's interests before the outsized egos of her own Cabinet?"

Ms May replied: "My priorities are the priorities of the British people. Yes, we're going to get Brexit right and deliver a good Brexit deal for them."

PA & Digital Desk

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