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Cross-party Brexit talks begin after May survives confidence vote

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement following winning a confidence vote, after Parliament rejected her Brexit deal, outside 10 Downing Street in London, 16 January 2019.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement following winning a confidence vote, after Parliament rejected her Brexit deal, outside 10 Downing Street in London, 16 January 2019. Reuters/CLODAGH KILCOYNE

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces deadlock Thursday over a new Brexit plan, after narrowly surviving a no-confidence vote sparked by the crushing defeat of her EU withdrawal deal.

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Theresa May has appealed to opposition leaders to meet for cross-party talks before she presents an alternative proposal to parliament on Monday.

But her opponents have set out a list of demands for cooperating – including ruling out the possibility that Britain would leave the EU in March without any deal at all.

The embattled leader conceded the divorce terms she struck with the EU had been roundly rejected, after MPs delivered the heaviest government defeat in parliament in modern British political history on Tuesday – 432 votes to 202.

"Now MPs have made clear what they don't want, we must all work constructively together to set out what parliament does want," May said in a televised address to the nation Wednesday evening, after winning a no-confidence vote triggered by the opposition Labour party.

She set out a schedule of cross-party talks that began immediately with meetings with the Scottish nationalist, Welsh nationalist and the pro-EU Liberal Democrat leaders.

But opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would only meet May if she could "remove clearly, once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit".

May said she was "disappointed" by Corbyn's decision and stressed that "our door remains open".

On Wednesday evening her spokesman said the possibility of a "no-deal" was still on the table.

Ian Blackford of the Scottish National Party (SNP) said his party would only participate if she were prepared to consider delaying Brexit, ruling out a "no deal" and the option of holding a second referendum.

May has flatly rejected a second vote.

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