British Prime Minister Theresa May is adamant in seeking a ‘pragmatic solution’ to the parliamentary impasse over the terms of Brexit, in time to reopen the negotiations with Brussels.
It’s now less than two months until Britain is set to leave the bloc, and concerns are growing stronger over the risk of a messy and disorderly ‘no deal’ exit.
Already, things are starting to crumble. Japanese-car maker Nissan has cancelled its plans for its new X-Trail SUV vehicle to be built in Britain. The company said the decision was made for business reasons, and that the continued uncertainty of Britain’s future with the EU was ‘not helping companies like ours plan for the future’.
Only two months to go
The issue causing the most controversy from MPs in May’s Conservative Party is the post-Brexit border between the UK and Ireland. And May shed little light on how she intended to resolve the issue when questioned in The Sunday Telegraph. However, she has been ordered to return to Brussels to renegotiate the arrangements for Northern Ireland.
RAW reports that the EU has rejected reopening talks on the so-called backstop, the insurance policy to keep an open border on the island of Ireland if Britain and the EU fail to reach a longer-term trade agreement before the end of a transition period.
‘MPs said that, with changes to the Northern Ireland backstop, they would support the deal that I agreed with Brussels to take us out of the EU,’ May wrote.
‘When I return to Brussels I will be battling for Britain and Northern Ireland, 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.’
But many pro-Brexit MPs have bigger concerns about the deal. Pro-Brexit trade minister Liam Fox has said it would be ‘irresponsible’ for the EU to refuse to reopen the Brexit negotiations — seeing as a no-deal will be detrimental for all parties.
Fox told Sky News:
‘Are they really saying that they would rather not negotiate and end up in a ‘no-deal’ position?…It is in all our interests to get to that agreement and for the EU to say we are not going to even discuss it seems to me to be quite irresponsible.’
Seeking alternative solutions
Meanwhile, should it need to be exercised, senior members of the hardline Eurosceptic European Research Group have been drafted in by the government to help develop an alternative to the Irish backstop, Downing Street said.
Baker, the ERG deputy leader, former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson and Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh will be part of the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, which will meet for the first time on Monday, a No. 10 spokeswoman said.
The Prime Minister is due to report back to parliament on her negotiations with the EU on 13 February, with a further series of votes by MPs expected the following day.
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