UK's May says 'armed with fresh' Brexit mandate

Virginia Carson
February 4, 2019

"I will be armed with a fresh mandate, new ideas and a renewed determination to agree a pragmatic solution that delivers the Brexit the British people voted for, while ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland".

However, Ireland and European Union negotiators have rejected any time-limit on the so-called "backstop" - a set of fall-back plans that would retain an open UK-Ireland border if Britain and the European Union fail to reach a longer-term trade agreement in future talks. Sign-up now and enjoy one (1) week free access!

May argued that lawmakers would be "happy with the current backstop if there was a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism".

Japanese carmaker Nissan (7201.T) cancelled plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in Britain, saying while it had taken the decision for business reasons the continued uncertainty around Britain's future European Union ties was "not helping companies like ours to plan for the future".

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Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, May suggested that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had agreed with her that the Irish border backstop as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement had to change.

The Daily Mail quoted sources as saying that the plan aims to protect May from being ousted by MPs who want negotiations on Brexit's second stage related to a new trade deal.

He said in those circumstances, the United Kingdom will still need to live up to its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement and in his view a solution based on regulatory alignment - as proposed in the backstop - will remain the "best and most sensible option".

The EU insists that the deal "remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal", but with the clock running down until the March 29 exit date the risks of a no-deal Brexit for both Britain and the bloc are coming into sharp focus.

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"The agreement we negotiated with Britain is already a compromise - especially regarding the arrangements for Northern Ireland", he said.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt conceded on Thursday that "extra time" might be needed to get "critical legislation" related to Brexit through Parliament.

May said she is determined to deliver Brexit on time.

Our political correspondent Chris Mason said that while Mrs May pledged to "go back to Brussels to secure a plan that Parliament can stand behind", the European Union remains publicly opposed to changing the backstop.

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"This represents a significant step towards delivering Brexit and fulfilling the instruction given to us by the British public".

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