LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - British Prime Minister Theresa May defended her decision to ask archrival Jeremy Corbyn to help draft a new blueprint for Brexit, and warned that the United Kingdom might never leave the European Union if he does not back a compromise plan.
"The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all," Mrs May said in a statement. "It would mean letting the Brexit the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that."
Mrs May is battling to contain a backlash from within her Conservative Party over her decision to work with Labour Party leader, Mr Corbyn, someone she has spent three years deriding.
Coming up with an acceptable compromise to her own lawmakers in response to the 2016 referendum has been beyond her, and the deadlock shows no sign of being resolved by reaching out to the opposition.
Inviting Mr Corbyn into the process is "a mistake", prominent pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said in an interview with Sky News on Sunday (April 7).
"There is an irony, at the very minimum, of saying one week that one thinks Mr Corbyn is dangerous and unfit for office, and the next week deciding to co-habit with him," he said.
Mrs May badly needs a breakthrough in London before she travels to Brussels on Wednesday. She has requested an extension to the Brexit process until June 30, but says if MPs agree to a deal, the UK should be able to leave before European parliamentary elections are held on May 23.
Education Minister Nadim Zahawi told the BBC that taking part in those elections would be a "suicide note" for the Conservative Party.
Mrs May sought to underline that both main political parties have a lot of common ground to secure an agreement.
"We both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs," she said.
But her efforts to forge a compromise across political boundaries look to be dribbling into the sand.
The Labour Party says Mrs May has not offered "real change" to her Brexit deal that Parliament has rejected three times - by chunky margins on each occasion. Labour's key demand is for a customs union with the EU.
According to the Sunday Times, Mrs May is prepared to cede some ground. She will offer to rewrite the government's withdrawal bill to make sure a customs arrangement is enshrined in law, a move that would be hard for a future eurosceptic prime minister to retract after Mrs May steps down.
Also, her aides have discussed offering Labour a seat in her delegation to Wednesday's EU summit, the newspaper reported.
And while EU leaders are not united on how long the extension should last, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told RTE on Saturday that it would be "extremely unlikely" that one of the EU's 27 other countries would veto Mrs May's request.