United Kingdom leader under new pressure to secure EU Brexit concessions

Border protest

Border protest

Pro-Brexit British lawmakers are mounting a campaign to rescue Prime Minister Theresa May's rejected European Union divorce deal in a parliamentary showdown, as major retailers warned the United Kingdom could face food shortages if it leaves the bloc without an agreement.

"It is an uncomfortable thing for the European Union, as it is an uncomfortable thing for us - there are some things about it, like the fact that we would have free market access but without paying, free movement would be over, we would be out of the common agricultural policy and fisheries policy - that's not comfortable for the EU either".

This idea was categorically rejected by Sabine Weyand, deputy to the chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier, who insisted that the bloc would not reopen the agreement and ruled out any time limits to or unilateral exit...

'It's not a criticism of them because they don't exist'.

I have heard it from the lips of very senior sources in government - speaking with the authority, it is claimed, of the Prime Minister herself - that this country is about to seek proper binding legal change to the current lamentable withdrawal agreement.

However, Weyand echoed her boss Michel Barnier in saying that Britain could resolve some of the problems caused by opposition to the Irish backstop by changing some of its demands on post-Brexit trade. In theory, it could allow a bill tabled by backbench MPs through parliament which forces the prime minister to seek an extension to Article 50, although senior MPs backing the plan have private doubts that it is workable, and are looking at other amendments that might be more successful.

Referring to these plots, Johnson dismissed the attempt to delay Brexit as a "thin disguise for killing it off" and said if they were successful in doing so "they will risk an incalculable backlash from those who voted Leave".

'If my amendment is carried, she goes back to Brussels and says: "You wanted to know what we can get through the House of Commons?" 'We are open to alternative proposals'.

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But the amendment appears likely to have support from the majority of MPs, with the Labour frontbench set to back the amendment if it is selected by House of Commons speaker John Bercow tomorrow.

Some lawmakers who voted against May's deal the first time say they would now support it if the Irish backstop was removed.

Mr Coveney said the backstop was crucial in preventing a hard border.

Mrs May addressed MPs in Westminster on the eve of a day of high drama, when MPs will debate a range of rival amendments, including calls to block a no-deal departure or delay Brexit from its scheduled date of March 29.

Mr Wilson added: "Whether it was waving front page stories about bombs 30 years ago or silly talk about troops being sent to the border, the Irish government has exploited the Brexit negotiations for its own narrow political domestic aims".

The question for May is whether the European Union can offer enough to get a variant of her defeated deal through parliament.

Lawmakers will on Tuesday debate and vote on May's next steps, after the overwhelming rejection of her Brexit plan earlier this month, and have been proposing amendments seeking to shape the future direction of Brexit.

Meanwhile Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, has urged Theresa May to "face down the stubbornness" of Dublin and Brussels over her Withdrawal Agreement.

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