Revised Brexit deal doesn’t undermine backstop: Irish PM

Clay Curtis
March 14, 2019

Three new papers will be presented to Parliament on Tuesday: "this joint legally binding instrument on the withdrawal agreement which also commits the European Union and United Kingdom to find alternative arrangements to replace the backstop by December 2020 and a joint statement to accompany the political declaration which outlines a number of commitments to expedite the process of bringing into force the future agreement".

Parliament rejected May's deal by 230 votes on Jan.15, prompting the British leader to return to Brussels in search of changes to address the so-called Irish backstop - an insurance policy created to prevent the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. If it is the case that we were ever to get into the backstop. The legal 585-page withdrawal agreement itself though was left intact. It is legally binding.

Ms. May said new documents to be added to the deal provided "legally binding changes" to the part relating to the Irish border. Where Leave-supporting MPs had hoped a concrete deadline would be imposed on the backstop, the legal instrument only clarified the circumstances under which the backstop option could be triggered and, after its implementation, removed.

"Now is the time to come together to back this improved Brexit deal and to deliver on the instruction of the British people", May said.

"Business will continue to leak from London to the European Union, with more activity being booked through local subsidiaries", William Wright, founder and managing director of New Financial told the BBC. It is what you do with this second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance. "There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations; no further assurances of the re-assurances - if the meaningful vote tomorrow fails".

Alan Wager, a Brexit expert at the United Kingdom in a Changing Europe think tank, said Parliament this week could decisively rule out both May's deal and a no-deal departure.

UK Trade minister George Hollingbery said: "If we leave without a deal, we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero, while maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries".

The Daily Mail said that, "to her enormous credit", Theresa May appears to have secured "the guarantees she needed on the Northern Ireland backstop".

Any postponement would have to be approved by the leaders of the other 27 nations, who are next meeting at a Brussel s summit on March 21 and 22 - a week before Brexit day.

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"The choice is clear: it is this deal, or Brexit may not happen at all".

The pound weakened against the euro as word filtered through that the 11th hour talks between May and European Union officials to secure fresh assurances regarding the backstop failed to convince MPs, who last night voted by a margin of 149 votes to reject May's deal again. Many pro-Brexit MPs will wait to see that before deciding how to vote.

Michael Gove, who campaigned for Brexit in 2016, said if May lost Tuesday's vote the government would effectively lose control of Brexit.

"This is a very important moment for us".

The prime minister's office said a trip was not confirmed, though Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said May planned to go to Strasbourg [France] later Monday "to try to finalize an agreement, if that's possible".

The opposition Labour Party has called for a General Election - and criticised Theresa May for allowing a free vote on no deal.

Britain's beleaguered prime minister would declare a personal victory and the United Kingdom would enter a transition period until the end of 2020.

She announced the move after a late evening dash to Strasbourg to hammer out the changes with top European officials, as the clock ticked down to Britain s scheduled divorce from the bloc on March 29.

Britain has been plunged into crisis as a result of the second rejection of Mrs May's deal, which MPs voted against 391 votes to 242, The Times says.

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