UK’s May seeks compromise with Labour in EU divorce deal

Virginia Carson
February 13, 2019

The prime minister told MPs she would lift a requirement for a 21-day delay before any vote to approve an global treaty.

Sir Keir, unlike his party leader Jeremy Corbyn, is an European Union enthusiast so there is some logic to his stances, which is to seek the softest possible Brexit.

"When the Prime Minister returns to Parliament with her deal, Scottish Labour MPs must stand up for Scotland's economic and social interests, and reject the Prime Minister's deal and Jeremy Corbyn's plan to throw his support behind it".

Barnier told a news conference in Luxembourg that time was "extremely short" to conclude a deal before Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

Addressing the House of Commons a fortnight after MPs voted for her to go back to Brussels and replace the controversial Irish border backstop, Mrs May acknowledged that she would need "some time" to hold talks with the EU.

Blair warned Sunday that a no-deal Brexit would inevitably lead to a so-called hard border being reintroduced on the island of Ireland with "potentially devastating" consequences for the peace process in Northern Ireland. May confirmed in her statement that if by then she has still not put a revised deal to parliament, the government will table another amendable motion.

Is the Prime Minister really prepared to risk people's livelihoods, jobs and investment in a vain attempt to push her deeply flawed deal through Parliament?

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The PM said she was discussing a number of options with the European Union to secure legally-binding changes to the backstop: Replacing it with "alternative arrangements", putting a time limit on how long it can stay in place or a unilateral exit clause so the United Kingdom can leave it at a time of its choosing. Media have reported a fresh vote is not expected until late February at the earliest.

Other MPs supporting the move include the senior Labour MP Hilary Benn, Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve and the Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb.

That will then be followed on Thursday by a debate and voting on a number of amendments.

Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon?

May confirmed that she still needs "some time to complete that process" of negotiating a better deal on the backstop but insisted she's still aiming to exit the European Union on March 29.

It comes after Parliament voted last month for the PM to find alternatives to the current backstop arrangement.

She said it was possible to pass bills "quite quickly" with "goodwill" from the Commons and Lords, but added: "It's just not possible to say how quickly it could be done, but obviously it depends on the way in which there is adequate debate on the meaningful vote and that's what the Prime Minister is determined to do".

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He said that Westminster will "be forced" to step in to prevent Theresa May from "running down the clock" before March 29.

According to Benjamin Martill, a Dahrendorf Forum post-doctoral fellow at the London School of Economics researching UK-EU relations, Corbyn has positioned Labour as the "party of the customs union" partly because "it's a good halfway position" that would gather support from some of those opposed to Brexit who would see it as a better option than May's plan, and partly "because it crosses the Conservative party's red lines".

She also sparked a row by setting out plans to potentially short-circuit parliamentary rules in order to get a deal ratified by the end of March.

Of course, Labour want power, they don't want to be associated with helping May get her Brexit deal through.

Mrs May told the Commons Tuesday afternoon: "The talks are at a crucial stage, and we all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this house requires, and deliver Brexit on time".

If Mrs May seeks to form a coalition with this majority, particularly with Labour moderates, she will probably succeed in getting a deal through the Commons.

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