April 20, 2019

UK Parliament approves Brexit amendment on replacing Irish backstop

31 January 2019, 02:18 | Silvia Roy

UK Parliament approves Brexit amendment on replacing Irish backstop

14 2019 anti Brexit supporters hold placards and flags as they demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London. — AFP

"There can be no change to the backstop". The U.K. joined the bloc in 1973, and held a 2016 referendum on its membership that was won by the "leave" side.

Weyand said that the Brexit deal was shaped by London, and the country's parliament should treat it as a win.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office said there could be no renegotiation and demanded a "credible" British proposal. "It is not re-negotiable".

Parliament defeated Mrs May's deal two weeks ago by a huge margin, with many Brexit-supporting rebels in her Conservative Party angry at the Irish "backstop", an insurance policy aimed at preventing a hard border in Ireland if no other solutions can be agreed.

MPs are due to vote on the PM's Brexit plan B exactly two weeks after she suffered a record Commons defeat by 230 votes on her European Union withdrawal agreement.

It would be "stupid" for the European Union to make concessions putting the remaining 27 members at a disadvantage simply to secure a deal, he said.

The Brexit deal between London and Brussels - overwhelmingly rejected this month by British MPs - contains a so-called backstop provision ensuring that if all else fails, the border will remain open.

Among the amendments to be voted, if received green light from the parliament speaker John Bercow today, will be the one prepared by Labour MP Yvette Cooper that will ask MPs to delay the Brexit date for up to 9 months if a deal can not be ratified until February 26.

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The Irish government have vowed not to reopen the backstop in a warning to Mrs May, who is expected to visit Brussels this week.

MPs in her own party want her to demand a last-minute change to the withdrawal deal to remove the backstop, which they fear could end up trapping the United Kingdom in a permanent customs union with the EU. Both those ideas have been repeatedly rejected by the EU.

And Ireland's Europe minister Helen McEntee called for "realism" from London as "there can be no change to the backstop".

She said alternatives to the backstop had been "extensively discussed at the negotiating table".

The prime minister's original Brexit proposals were thrashed by the parliament on January 15, with the government losing by record 230 votes.

May's approach drew praise from Brexit-backing lawmakers but prompted scorn from their pro-EU colleagues.

This has been proposed by Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve and has a chance of succeeding as it is supported by lawmakers from several parties.

But Green Party legislator Caroline Lucas accused May of chasing "heated-up fantasies that have already been rejected by the European Union".

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No.10 urged them to rethink, insisting MPs would have another chance to vote down a no-deal.

Opposition Labour Party lawmaker Yvette Cooper accused the government of squandering precious time.

Weber said: "If there is now a unilateral attempt to reopen the agreement, the outcome will be that not just the backstop has to be renegotiated - then the Gibraltar question, the question of how much money Britain has to pay for exiting, the question of citizens' rights will have to be renegotiated".

Brexit figurehead Boris Johnson has said he is ready to back a compromise plan to salvage Theresa May's European Union withdrawal deal.

This group spans the political divide and includes finance minister Philip Hammond and top members of the main opposition Labour party.

This amendment was passed by 318 votes to 310, proving to be the first vote for the night that Theresa May has lost.

Boris Johnson said he would "gladly" vote for it - if it meant the Withdrawal Agreement being re-opened and legally binding changes being made to the backstop.

The UK Parliament is due to take crucial votes on Brexit on Tuesday. The small Northern Irish Party which props up May's minority government but opposes her deal has not said how it would vote.

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One would give parliament the right to tell the government to leave the hated border arrangement should talks on a new EU-UK trade deal break down.

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