May says 95% of Brexit deal agreed with EU

Hugh Fox
October 24, 2018

Prime Minister Theresa May urged restive lawmakers to back her in the final stages of Britain's exit from the European Union, saying talks were in their most hard phase even if a deal was close.

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The backstop is an the EU's insurance policy to make sure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if a trading deal is not secured in time.

Theresa May will on Monday reassure MPs that "95% of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled" amid growing threats to her leadership.

Criticism of her Brexit strategy has intensified following a Brussels summit.

When Britain leaves the bloc, some form of border will have to be drawn between Northern Ireland - which is part of the United Kingdom - and Ireland - which is an European Union member - to allow for customs controls on goods, produce and livestock.

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Last night a Government spokesman struck a measured tone in response to Mrs May's speech and said "Ireland will listen to proposals that the United Kingdom brings forward, but any proposal has to be legally operative in ensuring that we avoid a Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland".

"The lack of clarity about the immediate impact of a disorderly United Kingdom withdrawal is particularly problematic in relation to the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", said the report, suggesting that a no-deal Brexit will make a customs and regulatory border "necessary".

Even if there's progress in negotiations with the United Kingdom over the coming weeks, the EU's 27 remaining governments see few chances of holding a leaders' meeting in November, two officials said.

MPs are beginning to wonder that if she can't deliver a deal with the European Union, if she is up to the job of taking us out without one.

The EU has also volunteered to extend the post-Brexit status-quo transition period by one year.

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom complained about the lack of an end-date in the current plans for a temporary customs plan.

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On Monday, she reiterated the position, stating that the United Kingdom might need to ask for a short extension "as an alternative to the backstop". Although May called any extension "undesirable", she said there were some circumstances in which it could be desirable.

Reporting from London, Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba said her position as leader of the party seemed to be in jeopardy, amid rumours of leadership challenges.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the European Union began marching through London on Saturday (20 October) as part of what organisers say will be the largest ever demonstration to demand that the British government holds a public vote on the terms of Brexit.

Tuesday's weekly Cabinet meeting in May's Downing Street offices was described as punchy, impassioned and containing fireworks by several people familiar with the discussions, who declined to be named discussing private conversations.

The Confederation of British Industry says a majority of United Kingdom firms are poised to implement their Brexit contingency plans by Christmas, steps that could include cutting jobs, adjusting supply chains outside the United Kingdom, stockpiling goods and relocating production and services overseas.

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