THERESA May persuaded EU chiefs to reopen talks to toughen the Brexit deal yesterday – as Remain ministers gave her a week to deliver progress.
After a day of “robust” meetings in Brussels, the PM won a green light for 14 days of new negotiations to make legal changes to the Irish backstop.
Health Minister Stephen Hammond stepped up the pressure ahead of the next Commons showdown on Thursday by signalling the prospect of ministerial resignations[/caption]
EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also gave Mrs May a boost by telling her he would help get a revised deal in place by Brexit Day, March 29.
But Health Minister Stephen Hammond stepped up the pressure on the Tory leader at home ahead of the next Commons showdown on Thursday.
The former Remain campaigner signalled he and other ministers would resign on Valentine’s Day to block no deal and pass power to Parliament for a softer Brexit if there is thin hope of success.
NO DEAL SHOWDOWN
Addressing the February 14 showdown, health minister Mr Hammond said: “The opportunity to ensure that no deal doesn’t happen by mistake is there. I have no doubt that many of my colleagues and I will take that opportunity.
“We will all have to look into our conscience at that stage.”
The Sun can reveal that Industry Minister Richard Harrington has reaffirmed his threat to resign next week too within the last 24 hours, telling allies “it’s now a matter of personal credibility”.
Rebel Tory MP Nick Boles and senior Labour backbencher Yvette Cooper are expected to re-table their plan for Parliament to seize control for the vote next week, and delay Brexit by three months.
But Chancellor Philip Hammond warned his Remainer allies not to buckle last night, saying: “People need to hold their nerve”.
Insisting she’d had “robust but constructive” meetings, Mrs May said: “I’ve set out our clear position that we must secure legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement to deal with the concerns that Parliament has over the backstop.
The Sun can reveal that Industry Minister Richard Harrington has reaffirmed his threat to resign next week[/caption]
Rebel Tory MP Nick Boles and Labour backbencher Yvette Cooper are expected to re-table their plan for Parliament to seize control for the vote next week – delaying Brexit by three months[/caption]
“I’m going to deliver Brexit, I’m going to deliver it on time and with a deal. I’m going to be negotiating in the coming days to do just that.”
The PM held back from asking for any specific changes to the backstop yesterday, instead outlining three possible areas – a time limit, a unilateral exit mechanism and a new tech-based solution.
Negotiations will proceed on a twin track – on how the backstop can be pinned down as temporary in the Withdrawal Agreement, and how a new high tech solution to keep the border open could be thrashed out as part of the accompanying Political Declaration.
MERKEL’S OLIVE BRANCH FOR MAY
German leader Angela Merkel also offered Mrs May an olive branch by agreeing to press ahead with tech solutions the moment the Brexit deal is signed.
The German chancellor said the EU must be more “creative” to unblock the Brexit talks as the PM’s bid to renegotiate the backstop was snubbed by Brussels chiefs.
She also said the bloc is prepared to upgrade its promises over the future relationship it will have with Britain to make clear the border solution will never be used.
Issuing a joint statement yesterday after their meeting, Mrs May and Mr Juncker said: “The two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament”.
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DUBLIN TALKS TO START
EU chiefs have set a provisional deadline for them of February 23, before all 28 member states leave for a summit with the Arab League in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will kick start talks with the Irish government in Dublin today, before Mrs May also flies to the Irish capital for dinner with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay will then meet Michel Barnier on Monday.
With just 49 days to go until Brexit, worried business bosses pleaded with politicians to deliver a deal.
CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said: “It’s now crunch time – a no-deal scenario must be taken off the table because the economy is seizing up from uncertainty”.
EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also gave Mrs May a boost by telling her he would help get a revised deal in place by Brexit Day, March 29[/caption]
German leader Angela Merkel also offered Mrs May an olive branch by agreeing to press ahead with tech solutions the moment the Brexit deal is signed[/caption]
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