Theresa May and senior Cabinet ministers were engaged in intensive discussions with MPs from all sides of the Brexit debate, as the Prime Minister fought to find a deal which could command support in Parliament.
But Jeremy Corbyn and his front bench continued to snub the talks, which the Labour leader dismissed as a “stunt”.
Speaking in the marginal Conservative constituency of Hastings, Mr Corbyn said Labour was “determined to get a deal” and called on Mrs May to ditch her negotiation red lines and rule out a no-deal Brexit.
“The Prime Minister seems completely unable to grasp what has actually happened,” he said. “She seems to be prepared to send the country hurtling towards a cliff edge.
“To get a deal that can command a majority in Parliament, Theresa May has to ditch the red lines and get serious about proposals for the future.”
Liberal Democrats accused the Labour leader of “playing political games” and said he could no longer rely on their support in future no-confidence votes, after he failed to throw his party behind calls for a second EU referendum.
A new opinion poll showed a 12-point lead for staying in the EU if a fresh vote was held. The YouGov survey for the People’s Vote campaign, conducted after Mrs May’s Brexit plan went down to humiliating defeat in the House of Commons on Tuesday, put Remain on 56% against 44% for Leave.
People’s Vote supporter Chuka Umunna said the poll showed that more than three-quarters of Labour voters back a referendum, warning Mr Corbyn: “To ignore those calls now would be an historic mistake for which Labour would not be forgiven.”
A Conservative “Right to Vote” campaign for a second EU referendum was launched by MP Phillip Lee, who claimed support for a so-called People’s Vote was “growing fast” among his colleagues on the Tory benches.
Mrs May invited MPs and leaders from across the Commons for talks to find a way forward on Brexit after fighting off a no-confidence motion on Wednesday.
But she told the House of Commons she was holding to the “principles” behind the Withdrawal Agreement which was roundly rejected by MPs on Tuesday, including control of borders, laws and money and an independent trade policy.
Aides later said that the requirement for an independent trade policy was incompatible with membership of a European customs union – something which Labour regards as essential.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier indicated that Brussels was ready to respond to any revision of Mrs May’s “red line” demands, telling MPs in Portugal: “If they change, we’ll change.”
Mr Barnier said that getting an agreement was “in everybody’s interest” and that “something has to change” to secure a divorce deal.
Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner said Mrs May was clinging to her red lines because she knew that any compromise on them would “break the Conservative Party” by pushing eurosceptic backbenchers in the European Research Group (ERG) to desert her.
“If she wants to negotiate with all parties in Parliament, and if she wants to do that in good faith, she has to say ‘OK, I’m not sticking to every single one of the red lines that I’ve established’,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
But Labour’s former prime minister Tony Blair said Mr Corbyn was wrong to snub the talks, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today: “If, in a moment of national crisis, the Prime Minister asks the Leader of the Opposition to come and talk, of course he should.”
And Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis accused Labour of “trying to frustrate and avoid Brexit”.
Mrs May has said that “the door remains open” to Labour for talks ahead of the deadline for her to present her Plan B to MPs on Monday.
Her motion is expected to be amended by MPs seeking parliamentary support for a range of options, from ruling out no-deal to extending the two-year Article 50 process or calling a second referendum.
The Commons will vote on the proposals on January 29, in a full day of debate expected to shed light on what Brexit solutions may be able to command a majority in Parliament.
Mr Corbyn confirmed that Labour will table an amendment setting out its favoured outcome of a customs union with a UK say over future trade deals, a close single market relationship and safeguards for rights.
Another amendment from Tory backbencher Nick Boles will offer to put Parliament in control of the Brexit process and extend the negotiation process beyond the scheduled date of EU withdrawal on March 29.
Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted in a phone call with business leaders that the Government was “not in control” of the process and suggested Mr Boles’ amendment could lead to Article 50 being “rescinded”, according to a transcript obtained by the Daily Telegraph.
Downing Street said meetings would be held with MPs representing the “whole range” of opinion across the House, including some backbench Labour MPs.
Some MPs were meeting with the Prime Minister and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay while others were seeing Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
Among those arriving for talks were a group of eurosceptic Tories including former Brexit Secretary David Davis and ERG vice-chairman Steve Baker, as well as Green MP Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price and the DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster.
Emerging from her meeting, Mrs Foster said the issue of the Irish backstop needed to be dealt with “in a very clear way” if Brexit negotiations are to make progress.
Ms Lucas said the PM was refusing to take the possibility of “no deal” off the table and was reluctant to extend Article 50.
“I’m not convinced she’s willing to loosen any of the red lines she’s set herself,” said the Green MP. “She still thinks it’s going to be possible to tweak this deal sufficiently to get the MPs that voted against it to swing behind it – I remain pretty sceptical about that.”