Friday, 22 February, 2019

Brexit: UK may need extra time, says foreign secretary

EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO SALES. NO ALTERING OR MANIPULATING. MANDATORY CREDIT UK Parliament  Jessica Taylor UK Parliament handout Theresa May insists she can re-open talks with the EU
Lloyd Bates | 03 February, 2019, 20:57

Having dramatically pulled a vote on her Brexit deal before Christmas, due to the prospect of a significant defeat, the Commons is nearing its so-called meaningful vote on the agreement.

SIMON COVENEY: The EU position and the Irish position is clear.

But ahead of the call, Mr Varadkar told the Irish Parliament that the European Union stood by the withdrawal agreement and renegotiation was not on the table.

"This government in Dublin is not going to allow it", he said, noting that any Brexit-related economic concerns were trumped by concerns about maintaining peace on the island of Ireland.

"I also accept that this House does not want the deal I put before it, in the form that it now exists".

"She took distance (sic) from an agreement (that) she herself negotiated and one with which we had agreed", Barnier said, before adding that the United Kingdom government was "explicitly supporting" calls for a change to the deal where the backstop would be replaced by alternative arrangements that were never defined in the negotiations. "The Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated", added Juncker, who also said, "Yesterday's vote increased the risk of a disorderly withdrawal", and that the European Union needs to be ready "for all scenarios, including the worst".

And he warned that the British vote had only "increased the risk of a disorderly withdrawal" and of Northern Ireland "slipping back into darker times past".

Asked to describe what the frontier could look like in a worst-case scenario, he said a hard border could "involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up".

And Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told May by phone that "the latest developments had reinforced the need for a backstop which is legally robust and workable in practice", an Irish government spokesman said. Hunt also said it was too early to say if an extension to the Brexit process would be required.

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'The withdrawal agreement will not be renegotiated. The EU insists on the backstop because, without it, a hard border might have to return.

Theresa May has been warned by Labour MPs she can not buy them off to back her Brexit deal with the promise of extra funding for their constituencies. This week a bomb went off in NI's Londonderry Courthouse; a group called the IRA claimed responsibility but denied it was anything to do with Brexit or borders.

"Saying you're against the backstop is like saying you're against bad weather". Opponents say voters may have changed their minds now that the details are becoming clearer. "There is a symbolic majority in the British parliament against no deal but no majority for anything that would avoid it".

Jeremy Corbyn said he believes Theresa May might try to run out of the clock on a Brexit deal.

"What May's MPs want is something that says the European Union and Britain are not locked into this agreement on the Northern Irish border indefinitely", Wager said.

"Jeremy made the case for our alternative plan", the spokesperson said, adding that the tone had been "serious and engaged" and that the two had agreed to meet again. "It must succeed or fail fast".

The proposal from senior Conservative MP Graham Brady calls instead for "alternative arrangements" to avoid border checks.

'The Cooper Bill could give MPs a temporary window to agree a deal that can bring the country together.

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