Theresa May seeks to salvage Brexit deal as Parliament votes on amendments

Henrietta Brewer
January 31, 2019

A leading Brexit supporter says he will back Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal with the European Union if she wins concessions on controversial language created to prevent border checks in Northern Ireland.

May has urged them to support one measure that calls for the current backstop to be replaced with "alternative arrangements" - but the amendment, crafted by members of May's own Conservative Party, is unlikely to pass as pro-Brexit lawmakers believe it would fail to force significant changes to the measure. Currently, the backstop clause would indefinitely keep Britain in a customs union with the EU if no other way were found to avoid physical border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Sinn Féin has said there is no room to change any aspect of the backstop in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and that Irish politicians would not be to blame in the event of a hard border in Ireland resulting from a "no deal" Brexit.

The House of Commons was voting on competing Brexit proposals that have been submitted by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators since Parliament rejected May's divorce deal two weeks ago, leaving Britain lurching toward a cliff-edge "no-deal" departure from the bloc on March 29.

Earlier this month, the deal was overwhelmingly rejected by the Commons.

Dr Fox gave a cool reception to a compromise deal put forward by housing minister Kit Malthouse which has won the support of the Democratic Unionist Party.

She said that she would seek "legally binding" agreements for any new deal but admitted negotiations would not be easy.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May reported on her government's plans for Brexit last week, following the defeat of the withdrawal bill in the House of Commons.

Robert Hazell, professor of government and the constitution at University College London, said the European Union was "pretty resolute in not being willing to reopen the negotiations unless the British government can come back with something more specific".

"Today we have the chance to show the European Union what it will take to get a deal through this House of Commons; what it will take to move beyond the confusion and division and uncertainty that hangs over us", Mrs May said.

One would give parliament the right to tell the government to leave the hated border arrangement should talks on a new EU-UK trade deal break down.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street after a cabinet meeting at in London on Tuesday.

And Ireland's European Affairs Minister, Helen McEntee, cautioned: "There can be no change to the backstop".

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the EU was waiting to see what happened in Parliament.

Another would let lawmakers vote on a set of alternate Brexit proposals to see which - if any - could muster majority support.

On the eve of parliament's vote on unlocking the Brexit impasse, 10 food chiefs plus industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) called on MPs to work "urgently to find a solution that avoids the shock of a no-deal Brexit on March 29 and removes. risks for United Kingdom consumers". What that basically means is that if there isn't anything else but the Brady Amendment being approved, we're still nowhere near getting a deal done before 29 March.

They said: "Tonight parliament has sent a clear message that there is a way forward to secure this deal if we are able to secure changes in relation to the backstop".

But it was far from clear whether this instruction would be followed by enough of the 118 Conservatives who rebelled against Mrs May's deal on January 15.

Other reports by iNewsToday