Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Theresa May under further Brexit pressure as clock ticks down

Theresa May British Prime Minister Theresa May. Getty
Patty Aguilar | 13 November, 2018, 19:44

There were also signs that pro-Europeans are gearing up to block the Brexit deal after Johnson's brother Jo, a junior transport minister, quit on Friday branding May's proposed withdrawal deal a "terrible mistake" and calling for a second Brexit referendum.

"The Brexit talks are not about me or my personal fortunes", the prime minister told the Lord Mayor's Banquet.

On Monday night, some cabinet ministers also met for drinks in International Trade Secretary Liam Fox's office to discuss Brexit, including no-deal plans and the Irish "backstop".

She added: "Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and I am determined to deliver for them". They threatened to reject the deal she's working on, even if she persuades the Cabinet to approve it in the coming days.

"This will not be an agreement at any cost", the PM added.

She repeated her assertion that a deal must give the United Kingdom control of "our laws, borders and money", plus the freedom to strike trade deals while protecting jobs, security and the Union.

The main battle remains over the Irish backstop, which would prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland by allowing all of the United Kingdom to remain in a customs union after the post-Brexit transition period ends in December 2020.

Downing Street said that there were "substantial issues still to be overcome" in relation to the "backstop" measure aimed at ensuring the frontier between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains much the same as it is now no matter what happens in the wider Brexit trade deal.

May's de facto deputy David Lidington told BBC Radio's Today program on Tuesday that a deal was "not quite there yet" but was within "touching distance". That has pushed the two sides to edge closer to a deal, but the compromises have led to domestic opposition that could derail the chances of getting it through Parliament.

The news comes amid growing expectation that London could soon agree a Brexit deal with Brussels, ahead of the nation's departure at the end of March.

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"You may have to run the two things in parallel". "Cabinet's job is to put something to Parliament that is going to deliver on the referendum result", she said.

Over the weekend, promises of a deal with the European Union collapsed with both sides stuck on the terms of the Irish backstop.

It is an insurance policy to avoid a return to controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time.

The former foreign secretary urged the Cabinet to mutiny against the prime minister's withdrawal plans at a crunch meeting on Tuesday.

But ministers emerging from the meeting did little to encourage expectations of an early resolution.

In the week ending november 9, hedge funds hiked their bets against the pound by more than $800 million, bringing the outstanding net short position in sterling against the dollar to $4.65 billion, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data shows. Solidarity across the European Union remains very strong.

"Negotiations are at a very critical and sensitive stage", Coveney said before leaving for Brussels.

"We don't see any positive outcome from Brexit", Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill said during a news conference in London on Monday.

The lack of decisive progress in Brussels came as further details emerged of reported reservations voiced about Mrs May's strategy by senior ministers at the crunch Chequers meeting in July.

"So we do not make an assessment at each point in time about the likelihood of something else - it's just a matter of assumption in the forecasts".

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