Friday, 16 November, 2018

Theresa May presents tweaked Brexit plan to cabinet

Boris Johnson has denounced a mooted Brexit deal with the EU as an ‘absolute stinker’ and urged MPs to reject Boris Johnson has denounced a mooted Brexit deal with the EU as an ‘absolute stinker’ and urged MPs to reject
Cary Marshall | 06 November, 2018, 21:55

The agreement would "not be done at any cost", her official spokesman said.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has also revealed that he wants "special" access to the City of London after Brexit to avoid financial instability across the continent.

He reiterated his position during a visit to Slovakia on Tuesday afternoon, telling journalists: "We're not there yet. Backstop means backstop. And a backstop can not have a time-limit".

May told Varadkar that there would need to be a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end, a spokesman from her office said in a statement. "And a backstop can not have a time-limit".

Brexit-backing MPs say the plan, referred to by officials as a "backstop" proposal for managing the Northern Irish border in the event a trade deal can't be reached, would leave the United Kingdom a colony because the country would be subject to European Union laws and regulations but without any say over them.

That was a nod to the prime minister's plan for a compromise solution, which would see an independent review mechanism introduced to the backstop.

Treasury minister Mel Stride told the Commons that the analysis would be presented in "good time" prior to the crunch vote on whether to accept or reject Theresa May's deal with the EU. "We're very clear that a review mechanism can not alter the backstop but it will allow us to possibly to move on to the next stage".

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Northern Irish MPs say it would mean a de-facto annexation of the province into the European Union after Brexit because, despite some minor tweaks to the wording of the backstop, it would still treat Northern Ireland separately to the rest of the United Kingdom.

May's senior Brexit advisor, Olly Robbins, was back in Brussels on Tuesday to resume "technical level" talks with Barnier's deputy, Sabine Weyand.

However, the Irish prime minister added it may be to Ireland's "advantage" for a review clause to be included in a backstop agreement.

The Prime Minister's top MPs will meet again before any withdrawal agreement is made.

However, there have been reports the bloc could yet call an extraordinary gathering of national leaders towards the end of November following recent signs of progress.

The European Council is now chaired by Austria and May spoke to the country's chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, on Tuesday to update him about progress in negotiations.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier told Belgian broadcaster RTBF this morning that the two sides were not close to reaching a deal, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told May on Monday that he was ready to consider a review mechanism that would keep the border with Northern Ireland open after Brexit, but that he would not accept any arrangement that would allow the United Kingdom to withdraw from the customs union without the approval of Brussels.

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