Saturday, 23 February, 2019

May to appeal for more time to secure backstop changes

Sinn Fein leader at Stormont Michelle O’Neill speaks to the media after meeting Leo Varadkar at the Irish Goverment residence in Belfast EU wants to ensure UK leaves with a deal, says PM May
Melinda Barton | 11 February, 2019, 09:24

The impasse risks a chaotic "no deal" departure for Britain.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said there might more non-binding votes on Brexit alternatives instead.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said firms were now in the "emergency zone" due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, ahead of the March 29 European Union departure date.

Labour will seek to force Mrs May into a decisive second Commons showdown on her Brexit deal by February 26.

DIT says that with the agreement the British auto industry, which has consistently warned against a no-deal Brexit, could avoid up to £8m a year in tariff charges on their exports that would apply if the agreement had not been reached.

He said he believed the prime minister was "pretending to make progress" but actually meant to return to Parliament after the March 21/22 European Council summit the week before Brexit and offer MPs a "binary choice" - her deal or no deal.

"We can't allow that to happen", Sir Keir told The Sunday Times.

She said: 'I'm certain of one thing, it's that it's not going to be as good as if there had not been Brexit, that is for sure. "There needs to be a day when Parliament says that's it, enough is enough".

"You've got to decide which of those Brexits you want before we leave - otherwise, we're going to leave without clarity".

May has been seeking changes to the deal with Brussels since it was rejected by a record majority in parliament on January 15.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has written to the prime minister setting out his demands for a Brexit deal he could support, accused May of an "utterly cynical" approach.

But he confirmed a meaningful vote on whether to accept or reject a revised deal might not happen until March.

Mrs May described discussions with European Union leaders in Brussels as "robust but constructive" and insisted she was determined to "negotiate hard" over the coming days to secure legally-binding changes to the Agreement which will render it acceptable to Parliament.

A number of government ministers will also be meeting their counterparts across the continent this week, in order to underline Mrs May's determination to achieve a deal.

She also said she hoped to have further discussions with Labour over the "alternative arrangements" to the backstop to the Northern Irish border which she is seeking to secure with European Union leaders.

The EU has urged May to grasp Labour's compromise offer rather than press ahead with her preferred option of getting her own divided party onside by renegotiating a clause in the exit agreement relating to the Northern Irish border.