Lead Brexit negotiator overheard saying 'it's May's deal or a long extension'

April FrancisFeb 14, 2019

The prime minister is expected to put the deal to a vote in the Commons towards the end of February.

British lawmakers rejected May's withdrawal deal last month, with the major sticking point being the Irish backstop - an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border between the British province Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

May told MPs that if she fails to broker a new deal with the European Union before 27 February, her government will table a new motion to Parliament, in a bid to gauge the sort of deal which could obtain majority support from MPs.

In a statement to parliament to update lawmakers on her negotiations with the European Union to secure changes to the Brexit deal, May said she wanted lawmakers from all parties to back the Brexit deal she is aiming to strike, citing the need to pass further legislation to prepare for Britain's exit from the EU.

Just 45 days to the March 29 Brexit deadline, the prime minister asked for support in her bid to seek changes to the Irish backstop in a vote on Thursday. "We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time".

"Talks are now at a crucial stage and we must all hold our nerve", May said, adding she believes Britain can reach a deal that will have the support of Parliament, and also honor the result of the 2016 referendum when British votes backed leaving the EU.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday the bloc would agree to tweak the political declaration on EU-U.K. ties after Brexit that forms part of the package, to reflect a plan for a closer future relationship that could remove the need for the backstop.

Yet again, this wouldn't amount to binding legal assurances but they are merely political commitments created to offer some leeway in the current Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Thai court frees Melbourne-based refugee
Navy's 5th Fleet, said the country "reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against" al-Araibi. Nadthasiri Bergman, Mr Araibi's lawyer, said the court had given her 60 days to submit the defence's case.

The UK and EU made a commitment to avoid physical barriers or checks on the border if no UK-EU trade deal is agreed before the Brexit transition period ends.

According to Benjamin Martill, a Dahrendorf Forum post-doctoral fellow at the London School of Economics researching UK-EU relations, Corbyn has positioned Labour as the "party of the customs union" partly because "it's a good halfway position" that would gather support from some of those opposed to Brexit who would see it as a better option than May's plan, and partly "because it crosses the Conservative party's red lines".

May also hinted that a provision in the UK's Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, which dictates that global treaties must sit for 21 days of parliamentary sittings before they can be ratified, would be waived to give her government more time to broker an acceptable deal with the EU.

"The point is to ensure the United Kingdom can not be held in a backstop permanently, how it's achieved is not something to be purist about", Leadsom told BBC radio. "She is playing for time, and playing with people's jobs, our economic security and the future of our industries".

House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, who is in charge of the parliamentary timetable, denied the government was wasting time.

May's office declined to comment Tuesday on what it called "alleged remarks", and said its focus was on seeking changes to her deal that Parliament would accept.

The Brexit uncertainty is beginning to be felt across the economy.

Figures released this week showed the British economy barely expanding at the end of a year ago, as business investment, manufacturing output and construction all declined.

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