Friday, 19 April, 2019

May to appeal for more time to secure backstop changes

Suzyanne16 via Getty Images Suzyanne16 via Getty Images
Jeannette Daniel | 11 February, 2019, 12:41

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said Sunday that Parliament would get to pass judgment on May's Brexit plan "by no later than February 27".

The impasse risks a chaotic "no deal" departure for Britain, which could be painful for businesses and ordinary people on both sides of the Channel.

If no deal on the changes to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been reached with Brussels by Wednesday, as seems overwhelmingly likely, Mrs May will address MPs on progress made, say more time is needed for negotiations, and table a "neutral motion" for debate the following day.

Asked if she could stay in office if the Government backed a customs union she said: "I absolutely do not think that should be our policy".

It comes as shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told The Sunday Times that Labour already plans to force another vote on the deal, accusing Mrs May of "running down the clock" and only offering MPs a "binary choice".

"We can't allow that to happen", Sir Keir told The Sunday Times. 'There needs to be a day when Parliament says that's it, enough is enough'.

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"If the meaningful vote has not happened, so in other words things have not concluded, then Parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than 27 February", said Mr Brokenshire.

"It's this blinkered approach that's got us to where we are, with her never wanting to see where the real majority is in parliament".

If no new deal has been reached with the European Union by Wednesday, May will make a statement to Parliament that day, and table a motion for debate Thursday.

"Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the United Kingdom but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU", International Trade minister Liam Fox said in a statement. A similar promise at the end of January thwarted a cross-party attempt to take over the timetable, led by Labour's Yvette Cooper and Conservative Nick Boles. The prime minister is now in talks with Brussels to seek these changes to the backstop.

But in efforts to build cross-party support for a Brexit deal, she offered flexibility on Corbyn's calls to keep up with European Union measures to protect the environment and workers' rights, asking for further talks with Labour "as soon as possible".

Their meeting was understood to be focused on seeking to improve Anglo-Irish relations that have been soured in the dispute about the backstop proposals for guaranteeing no physical customs checks on the border with Northern Ireland.

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