May to meet EU leaders in bid to save Brexit deal
London: UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May will meet European leaders and EU officials on Tuesday for talks in an attempt to salvage her Brexit deal, a day after postponing a parliamentary vote on it in the face of overwhelming opposition.
May will hold talks with her Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in the Hague and later with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to seek “further assurances” to ensure that the Northern Irish backstop would never come into force, though No 10 warned a rapid breakthrough was unlikely.
However, European Council President Donald Tusk warned that the EU would “not renegotiate” but said leaders would discuss how to help “facilitate UK ratification”, the BBC reported.
May will meet Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels later in the day.
“We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop,” Tusk tweeted, referring to the contested clause in the deal relating to Northern Ireland.
UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said further talks with Brussels would focus on the Brexit “backstop” on the Irish border, which May earlier admitted had caused MPs “widespread and deep concern”.
Conservative Party leader May said on Monday that the decision to delay the vote was made after it became clear she would lose it “by a significant margin”.
According to the Guardian, Downing Street said the vote could be delayed till January, that reduces the time available to pass the necessary legislation to complete the UK’s departure.
Dozens of Conservative MPs had been planning to join forces with Labour Party, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Democratic Unionist Party to vote down May’s deal, reports said.
The Tory rebels and the DUP do not like the Northern Ireland “backstop”, a legally-binding proposal for a customs arrangement with the EU, which would come into force if the two sides cannot agree a future relationship which avoids the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged May to stand down because her government was now in “chaos”.