Corbyn tells Labour MPs to boycott Brexit talks with government until Theresa May drops no-deal threats

Instruction comes as at least three Labour MPs take up invitation for talks, in a bid to find solution to the crisis

Jeremy Corbyn says Theresa May's offer of talks with party leaders was 'simply a stunt' and says no-deal must be 'taken off the table' before cross-party talks can begin

Jeremy Corbyn is in open conflict with senior Labour MPs after telling them to boycott cross-party talks with the government over Brexit.

The Labour leader – who is refusing to negotiate with Theresa May, until she drops threats of a no-deal Brexit – tried to extend the no-talks stance in an email sent to all his colleagues.

But the order came as at least three Labour MPs opened talks, in a bid to find a solution to the gathering crisis after Tuesday’s devastating defeat for the prime minister’s deal.

Both Yvette Cooper, the Home Affairs Committee chair, and Hilary Benn, the Brexit Committee chair, went to the Cabinet Office to meet Tory ministers, both in the morning and afternoon.

And John Mann, a Leave-supporting Labour MP who backed Ms May’s apparently doomed deal, was also spotted coming out of the same building on Whitehall.

Ms Cooper defended joining the negotiations, saying: “We want to see if the government is actually prepared to make some changes.”

Mr Benn also stressed the need for Ms May to show flexibility on her Brexit red lines, saying: “The really important question is, there’s an open door, is there an open mind to a change?”

But, in the email, Mr Corbyn wrote: “I have been absolutely clear that any starting point for talks about breaking the Brexit deadlock must be on the provision that that the threat of a disastrous ‘no deal’ outcome is ruled out.

“This is a position that has now been adopted by the first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

“I urge colleagues to respect that condition and refrain from engagement with the government until ‘no deal’ is taken off the table.”

Speaking outside the cabinet office, both Mr Benn and Ms Cooper insisted they were as determined as their leader to block the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

When asked whether Mr Corbyn should be there, Mr Benn said: “That is a decision for Jeremy to take. He’s demonstrating that it’s not just the prime minister who can be stubborn.”

Earlier, speaking in Hastings, Mr Corbyn defended his decision not to enter talks with the prime minister, to try to solve the Brexit crisis, unless she ruled out a no-deal departure.

“Last night’s offer of talks with party leaders turned out to be simply a stunt, not the serious attempt to engage with the new reality that’s needed,” he told party activists.

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