May's top lawyer struggles for Brexit deal in Brussels

Anna Jefferson
March 6, 2019

It comes as a senior Brexiteer pointed to MPs' growing mood for compromise.

In a separate development, Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Tory lawmakers, expressed optimism that a breakthrough on the backstop is near. "If we can't get that we will have to break the logjam by going back to the people. We need substantive changes that will allow the attorney general to change his advice to the government that says that, at the moment, theoretically, we could be trapped in the backstop indefinitely".

Britain's withdrawal from the European Union is scheduled for March 29.

MPs last month rejected the withdrawal deal Theresa May has reached with the European Union by 230 votes - the biggest defeat for a sitting government in history.

Britain's government is due to hold a series of parliamentary votes next week asking lawmakers to approve a modified version of a Brexit plan they previously rejected, and if not, to vote on a no-deal or a delay to Brexit.

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With fears about financial and economic stability growing, British MPs last week agreed to give May more time to seek changes from Brussels, but if she can not get her deal passed by March 12, she has agreed to let parliament vote for a Brexit delay.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay are to hold fresh talks in Brussels in a renewed effort to secure changes to the backstop in order to allay fears that it could leave the United Kingdom trapped in a customs union with the EU.

Asked about the Daily Telegraph report, Mr Brokenshire said: "The Attorney General continues with his work to ensure that we get legally binding changes to ensure that we are not locked in the backstop".

The stance has been drawn up in conjunction with the DUP, according to the Sunday Times.

Mrs May has promised MPs a vote on her deal on or before 12 March.

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Simon Clarke, the Conservative MP who voted against May's deal in January said "this money won't buy any votes in parliament". And there are a variety of views within the ERG itself, with some leading figures taking a more hardline approach than others.

Mrs May said: "For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread". Chris Bryant called the money "corrupt, patronizing, pathetic" and "all to appease the Brexit monster".

She said as many as 30 Labour MPs felt the same way, with even more against another European Union referendum.

However, the focus on regions with Labour constituencies, where in many cases the majority voted to leave, led to suggestions from the Labour Party that it was merely a "desperate" attempt to get votes for her "bad withdrawal agreement".

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's opposition Labour party's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell (L) and Britain's opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn listen as Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond presents his budget statement in the House of Commons in London on October 29, 2018.

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"I don't want to overstate them because I still think there's a lot of work to do, but I think they do understand we are being honest".

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