Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Theresa May wins legally-binding changes to Irish backstop at eleventh hour

Leader of Britain's parliament Andrea Leadsom said that if the country left the EU without a withdrawal deal it would be harder to guarantee the smooth flow of goods and people across the Irish border No Majority in British Parliament for Second Brexit Referendum: Reuters Analysis
Jeannette Daniel | 14 March, 2019, 11:26

European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU has done all it can to reach an agreement - while the EU's Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said "no-deal" preparations are now more important than ever.

The backstop is an insurance policy aimed at avoiding controls on the sensitive border between the British province of Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland, though some British lawmakers worry it could trap the United Kingdom in the EU's orbit indefinitely.

Brexit could be reversed if lawmakers reject the government's exit deal, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday after two major eurosceptic factions in parliament warned that Prime Minister Theresa May was facing a heavy defeat.

"There was a clear concern in [British] parliament over one issue in particular: the Northern Ireland backstop", May said at a joint news conference with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker following a meeting in the French city of Strasbourg.

Wilson said the legal assurances secured by May "fall short" of her promises, but he did not indicate whether the party would, again, vote against the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons.

At Westminster, speculation has centred on the prospect of the Prime Minister watering down her commitment to hold a vote on her Brexit deal following the failure of talks to provide suitable concessions over the Northern Ireland backstop.

The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trading relationship is in place.

On Tuesday, March 12, MPs will finally have another chance to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal.

"We were prepared to be pragmatic towards it, but now, it seems the only paths are to see a catastrophic no deal outcome, the government working across the House of Commons to find a softer version of Brexit, or reconsidering Brexit in its entirety".

May has secured "legally binding changes" which improve the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, who May's de facto deputy, told the British parliament.

More news: 20+ Galaxy S10, S10+, & S10e Tips and Tricks!

May has said they would not give in to any solution that would divide the United Kingdom and negotiated for a United Kingdom -wide backstop.

May hoped the changes would be enough to overturn the 230-vote margin of defeat for the deal in January.

She said she is passionate about delivering the result of the referendum and is equally passionate that the best way to leave is with a deal.

The immediate reaction was cautious from Brexit-supporting MPs in her own party and from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up her minority government.

However, if they reject the deal, that kickstarts another set of possibilities.

The EU is unwilling to reopen an agreement it spent a year and a half negotiating, while British legislators remain split over whether to leave the bloc and, if so, on what terms.

Britain said on Wednesday it would eliminate import tariffs on a wide range of goods and avoid a so-called hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the event of a "no-deal" Brexit.

If Parliament decides it does not want to leave without a plan then another vote will be held on Thursday to decide if the March 29 deadline for withdrawing from the European Union should be pushed back. "They've got to recognize her deal isn't going to work, it doesn't get support, and will not get through parliament".

One EU diplomat said May was preparing the ground for "a blame game" if she loses the vote on Tuesday.

"If you want to stop Brexit you only need to do three things - kill this deal, get an extension and then have a second referendum". "However, the matter of law affecting withdrawal can only inform what is essentially a political decision that each of us must make".

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