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May will seek to reopen Brexit divorce deal

January 30, 2019

 

British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek “legal changes” to the Brexit deal she agreed with EU leaders only last month to try to secure the support of MPs, her spokesman said Tuesday.

 

She will hold talks with unnamed officials or leaders from the bloc throughout Tuesday, he said, as the clock ticks down to Britain’s exit from the European Union on March 29.

 

Brussels has repeatedly said it will not reopen the withdrawal agreement that May herself negotiated over nearly two years, but the spokesman said it was clear it would never be accepted by the British parliament.


“We have to have a deal which can carry the support of parliament and that’s going to require some changes to the withdrawal agreement,” he said.

 

The House of Commons, which rejected May’s deal by a huge margin earlier this month, will from 1900 GMT Tuesday vote on a series of amendments designed to show the prime minister exactly what they want.

 

May’s spokesman said she backed an amendment that called for the removal of a controversial “backstop” arrangement in her deal to keep open the border with Ireland after Brexit, in favour of “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border”.

 

She told her cabinet that “to win the support of the House of Commons, legal changes to the backstop will be required”, her spokesman said.

 

He was questioned about how this strategy might work, given how often the EU has said it will not reopen the Brexit agreement.

 

“There is a very clear message from the EU’s leaders that they want (Britain) to leave with a deal, and they understand this is in the best interests of the EU as well as the UK,” he said.

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