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BREXIT LATEST: May to hand backbenchers a chance to DELAY Brexit as deal on brink | Politics | News


The Prime Minister is expected to quash the worries of the hardline Brexiteers within her party in the Commons today by ruling out a Brexit deal including the membership of a customs union. But she will also look for an understanding with the Remain-backing side of the Conservative Party, asking MPs to give her more time to strike a deal with the European Union in exchange for their amendments to be tabled later in February. This move will give backbenchers the chance to put forward a motion forcing the Government to request an extension of if the UK approaches March 29 without a deal and delay Brexit. 

The Prime Minister is also expected to update the Commons on the latest developments in negotiations with Brussels and Dublin, as the sides try to find a way through the impasse on measures for the Irish border.

Downing Street said Mrs May’s statement will give MPs more time to “digest the content” ahead of a series of expected Commons votes on Thursday.

Mrs  will say: “The talks are at a crucial stage. We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House has required and deliver Brexit on time.

“By getting the changes we need to the backstop; by protecting and enhancing workers’ rights and environmental protections; and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support.” 

Talks are continuing apace between the UK and EU, with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and Mrs May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, meeting eurocrats and MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Mr Barclay was said to have held “constructive” talks on Monday night with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.

The pair agreed to further meetings in the coming days, while their teams will continue to work to find a way forward.

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8.50am update: Brexiteers should not be “purist”

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said Brexiteers should not be “purist” about the type of deal the Prime Minister can secure with the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop.

Asked if there would need to be changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, prominent Leave-supporter Mrs Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The point is to ensure that the UK cannot be held in a backstop permanently.

“How it’s achieved is not something to be purist about.”

8.34am update: Jeremy Hunt heads for Paris in search of support deal

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been dispatched to Paris as Britain tries to convince Emmanuel Macron’s French government to make concessions on the Brexit deal.

Mr Hunt has separate meetings lined up with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau and Mr Macron’s powerful chief of staff Alexis Kohler. 

8.03am update: Leadsom rules out Corbyn’s Brexit vision

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has insisted there is “no chance” of Mrs Theresa May accepting Labour’s vision for leaving the EU despite speculation she could soften her stance on customs union membership.

Mrs Leadsom dismissed the prospect of Mrs May adopting Mr Corbyn’s “world view” and pledges to stay in the Cabinet to help deliver Brexit.

She denied the Prime Minister was softening her stance over a customs union in a letter to Mr Corbyn.

She said: “I think she’s making quite clear that what Corbyn is demanding is actually not as good as what the Prime Minister’s deal is offering.

“So he wants a customs union and he is unclear as to whether that means he also wants an independent trade policy.”

7.30am update: Liddington meets Van Rompuy for Brexit talks

Former European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has had dinner with Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington in Brussels, according to Sky News.

Mr Van Rompuy has emerged as a potential “influencer” who may be able to break the Brexit deadlock.



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