BREXIT ULTIMATUM: May turns screw on Brussels ahead of vote –'EU has to make a choice too'

Posted on Mar 9 2019 - 5:09pm by admin

Britain and Brussels were locked in a standoff on Thursday after Eurocrats demanded fresh proposals but were in turn accused of being intransigent. The Prime Minister will insist the government remains determined to secure legal changes to her exit agreement that will make it acceptable to MPs. But she will tell Brussels it must play its part in resolving the deadlock.

In a speech to workers in Leave-voting Grimsby, Mrs May will say: “Just as MPs will face a big choice next week, the EU has to make a choice too.

“We are both participants in this process.

“It is in the European interest for the UK to leave with a deal.

“We are working with them but the decisions that the European Union makes over the next few days will have a big impact on the outcome of the vote.”

Negotiators are preparing to work through the weekend in a frantic scramble to find a way to tackle concerns about backstop plans to prevent a hard Irish border.

Mrs May will put her deal back to MPs on Tuesday but if it fails they will be given votes on Wednesday and Thursday about delaying exit day and ruling out leaving without a deal.

The Government was accused of failing to put forward concrete plans to deal with the backstop after “difficult” talks earlier in the week.

But Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said his proposals were “clear as day” and government sources accused Brussels of being “intransigent”.

Mr Cox said: “I am surprised to hear the comments that have emerged over the last 48 hours the proposals are not clear. They are as clear as day and we are continuing to discuss them.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is “available 24/7” to meet Theresa May if a deal is close.

The Prime Minister needs to strike an agreement before the government puts down a motion on Monday afternoon ahead of the vote the following day.

Mr Cox is likely to return to Brussels tomorrow and Mrs May could head over as late as Monday morning in the dash to find a breakthrough.

The Attorney General said he was continuing to press for legally binding changes to the backstop that would ensure the UK is not trapped into following EU rules indefinitely.

But EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier claimed Mr Cox had produced “a legal solution to a political problem”.

France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said the EU was still waiting for a “sustainable proposal” from the British side.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was “more certain than ever” that MPs would back a deal to keep the UK closely tied to the EU after he held talks on Wednesday with senior pro-EU Tories.

Former Chancellor George Osborne said the vote to Leave was a “foolish decision” that would leave the country following EU rules without shaping them.

The newspaper editor admitted that he had “always fancied” a job as a European Commissioner.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott admitted she believes Labour’s move to back a second referendum is likely to backfire.

She told The House magazine: “It forms part of our policy that a second referendum is something that we are prepared to consider. I would say, and I have said that a second referendum, people need to be careful what they wish for.

“The danger is that Remain wouldn’t necessarily win, that Leave would win again. But the majority of party members support it and so I think it’s the right move for the leadership of the Labour party to respect that.”

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