UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet top EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Thursday, October 19, as the Labour Party offers itself as a possible alternative amid the UK government's floundering Brexit talks.
The Labour leader, who thwarted Theresa May's hopes of gaining a large majority in the June election, will be joined by Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer and Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner for meetings with Mr. Barnier and Frans Timmermans, first vice president of the European Commission.
The meeting with Mr. Corbyn suggests Mr. Barnier and several European leaders would prefer to do a deal with the Labour leader and are banking on Mrs. May's government, which is propped up by Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), collapsing and leading to another general election which Labour are hoping to win.
As he set out for Brussels, Mr. Corbyn volunteered to step up to the plate if Mrs. May's government was unable to do a Brexit deal.
'Labour Stands Ready'
"As the government's splits and Brexit bungling become ever more damaging, Labour stands ready to take up responsibility for the Brexit negotiations," said Mr. Corbyn.
"A no-deal Brexit would be a bad deal for Britain, threatening jobs and living standards. It would also harm our European neighbours. That's why it's in all our interests to increase the pressure for real progress in the current talks and move on to negotiations about our future trading relationship," Mr. Corbyn added.
Mr. Corbyn is also due to hold meetings with the Italian, Swedish and Portuguese prime ministers.
"We are clear in our priorities: a jobs-first Brexit which maintains tariff-free access to the Single Market to protect trade and living standards," said Mr. Corbyn.
"Labour will guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and seek reciprocal arrangements for British citizens living in mainland Europe," he added.
May Also in Town
Theresa May is also in Brussels on Thursday for crucial talks and in a Facebook post she offered an olive branch over the status of EU citizens in Britain.
She said the process for achieving settled status would be "streamlined" and the cost would be "as low as possible."
Mrs. May will address EU leaders at a summit in Brussels later on Thursday, but hopes are not high after her failed Florence speech.
She is expected to argue sufficient progress has been made in the talks for them to continue to the next stage.
After she has left the other 27 EU leaders are expected to deliver a verdict on progress on Friday, October 20, and say Britain must make an offer on the "divorce bill" before they will talk about trade.
Meanwhile, Mrs. May has been urged to quit the talks altogether by a group of hardline pro-Brexit Conservative MPs and businessmen.
The Leave Means Leave campaign says Mrs. May should formally declare Britain is working on the assumption there will be no deal and it will revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on March 30, 2019.