May promises new EU talks to salvage Brexit deal

22nd January, 2019 10:10:49 printer

May promises new EU talks to salvage Brexit deal

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday she would seek further talks with Brussels to try to salvage her Brexit deal, but was accused of offering nothing new to break the political deadlock just 10 weeks before Britain leaves the EU, reports AFP.

MPs last week roundly rejected the divorce terms May agreed with the bloc, raising fresh fears that Britain could crash out with no deal on March 29.

She responded by holding talks with opposition parties, but after they criticised her for being inflexible she has now returned her focus to winning over her own side.

Her Conservative MPs and their Northern Irish allies in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are deeply opposed to the “backstop” plan in the Brexit deal designed to keep open the Irish border.

May told the House of Commons there could be “progress” in this area, saying: “I will be talking further this week to colleagues—including in the DUP... I will then take the conclusions of those discussion back to the EU.”

She did not give details of what she might request from Brussels, but said she looked forward to exploring in more detail a proposal from Poland to put a five-year time limit on the backstop.

However, opposition parties accused her of refusing to accept that MPs had rejected her deal, and expressed doubt she could get the changes she needed to win them over.

 Meanwhile, Britain’s main opposition Labour party has proposed MPs be allowed to vote on a second referendum as part of a series of options to stop a “no deal” Brexit, reports AFP.

A parliamentary amendment tabled late on Monday would require ministers to allow time in the House of Commons to discuss ways to prevent Britain leaving the EU in March with no deal.

These options include renegotiating Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement to include a new UK-EU customs union and a “strong relationship” with the EU’s single market.

They also should include “legislating to hold a public vote on a deal or a proposition” that has the support of a majority of MPs.

On the other hand, Ireland will see a new “hard border” spring up with the North if Britain fails to approve a Brexit withdrawal deal with the European Union, Brussels warned Tuesday

EU commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said he had heard nothing new since British Prime Minister Theresa May’s laid out a tweaked divorce plan on Monday.

In the meantime, France and Germany Tuesday signed a new friendship treaty to deepen their alliance at a time of crisis for the EU, drawing fire from the far right whom President Emmanuel Macron slapped down for “spreading lies” about the pact.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel inked the accord to deepen ties as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and tensions are rising with populist leaders in the bloc.

The treaty pledges stronger political, economic and defence ties and restates the countries’ commitment to the European Union.