UK PM May says Brexit talks reaching their endgame, issues remain

Pauline Gross
November 13, 2018

Mrs May is expected to meet her Cabinet this week to set out her plans for the divorce deal.

Hope of getting a deal for the Cabinet to sign off on Tuesday appeared to be rapidly receding, but talks are continuing in Brussels.

'On the present plans we will be a vassal state, and in the customs union, until such time as our EU partners may feel moved to enter into fresh negotiations on a trade deal. But as the various factions who oppose May's approach step up their warnings, it's looking even trickier than her whips may have calculated.

The Democratic Unionist Party, a hardline Northern Irish party that props up May's minority conservative government, is staunchly against such a policy saying it would leave Northern Ireland effectively carved off from the rest of the UK.

The amendments to the Finance Bill, drafted by MPs Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry, two leading supporters of the People's Vote campaign, would force the Treasury to carry out and publish an impact study of any Brexit deal before MPs have a "meaningful vote" on leaving the EU. Northern Irish lawmakers are concerned the region will end up being treated differently to Britain.

Johnson, the pro-EU brother of Brexit-backing former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, called for a second referendum as he said May's handling of the talks had left Britain with a choice between handing over even more sovereignty than European Union membership required, or accepting the chaos of no deal. "Delay after staged-managed delay", former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said.

May still needs to convince her ministers and the parliament to go along with her vision of the deal for Brexit, due next March, despite the outstanding issues in talks with Brussels, notably over the Irish border.

A year ago, May used a speech at the same venue to accuse Moscow of military aggression and of meddling in elections, some of her strongest criticism even before the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

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Sitting several seats away was Russian President Vladimir Putin , who arrived at the ceremony separately as well. Police tackled the woman and the motorcade continued uninterrupted.

Nevertheless, without agreement from European Union leaders on a deal in November, Mrs May's prospects of putting it to a parliamentary vote before Christmas will recede sharply.

On Monday Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, an influential figure in the Labour Party, urged his party in the House of Commons to reject May's deal.

Briefing the 27 other EU member states, "Michel Barnier explained that intense negotiating efforts continue, but an agreement has not been reached yet", the European Council of member states said. It's meant to be a last-resort measure, but plenty of people on both sides think it's likely to be invoked.

The two sides are working on a proposed solution involving a common customs arrangement for the United Kingdom and the EU.

House of Commons leader and senior Conservative Andrea Leadsom, warned on Sunday that MPs would not accept this sort of arrangement, telling the BBC: "I don't think something that trapped the United Kingdom in any arrangement against our will would be sellable to members of Parliament". On a deal, he said: "We are not there yet".

"It would cost us money but it would finally dispel the "crash out" Project Fear nightmare scenarios", he wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

Asked whether Britain would have to start preparing in earnest for a "no-deal" Brexit if an agreement were not clinched by the end of Wednesday, as newspapers have reported, he said: "I'm not going to ascribe days to particular actions".

She said that was why the backstop had to be "legally operable" and remain in place "unless and until something else comes along" which could prevent a hard border.

Other reports by GizPress

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