World

May prepared to walk out of Brexit talks

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would walk away from divorce talks with the European Union without a deal if she had to, but her rival in next week's election, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, said he would make sure an agreement was reached if he won power.

Britons will go to the polls in a vote that will decide whether Mrs May, from the centre-right Conservatives, or Mr Corbyn of the leftist Labour Party, gets to sit down with Brussels and hammer out an exit deal that will define the country's trade and diplomatic ties with the EU.

Their differing stances could set the tone for what both Britain and the EU expect will be two years of difficult talks on everything from how much cash should be paid upon exit, to border arrangements for migrants, goods and services.

Mrs May is expected to win comfortably on June 8, but her party's lead in opinion polls has narrowed sharply in the last week, calling into question her decision to call the unscheduled election seeking a strong endorsement of her Brexit strategy.

One poll published yesterday showed her lead had been cut to 6 percentage points from 9 points a week ago and 18 points two weeks ago, as voters reacted badly to the Conservatives' manifesto.

The two party leaders' differences on how to handle talks with Brussels came to the fore on Monday during the main televised event of the campaign, in which they separately fielded questions from the public and were then interviewed. "We will be there to negotiate the right deal but what I have said is that no deal is better than a bad deal. We have to be prepared to walk out," Mrs May said to applause during the Sky News interview. - REUTERS

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