Senior Tories tell May to steer clear of Brexit negotiations with Labour

12 February, 2019, 08:27 | Author: Wade Massey
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May is in talks with the European Union to seek these changes to the backstop.

The Leave campaign figurehead was speaking as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay prepared for talks with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier as the Government stepped up efforts to secure changes to the backstop, which is created to keep the Irish border open after the UK's withdrawal.

The Prime Minister said she was "not clear" why the Labour leader was pushing for a continued customs union which would block Britain from striking its own trade deals. The intervention came as the PM (pictured left returning to No10 today) moved to quell Tory fears that she is about to cave into Jeremy Corbyn's (pictured right) demand for a permanent customs union with the EU.

On the Northern Ireland backstop, Mr Johnson said: "The argument is now about how to get out of the backstop".

"On your point about the deadline and could we have a time limit, I think it must be pretty obvious that if you are going to have a time limit to the backstop and I think that would be a very good thing".

"I don't think that there is any mileage for the Prime Minister or the Government in trying to do a deal with Labour because they will just try to trap Theresa May", he said at a launch event at Westminster.

Theresa May will update Parliament later on her latest round of Brexit talks, as she continues to try to gather backing for her deal.

She insisted her deal already met numerous conditions he had set.

But she said it also recognises the development of the UK's independent trade policy.

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She added: "The fundamental negotiating challenge here is the EU's position that completely frictionless trade is only possible if the United Kingdom stays in the single market".

And she questioned whether Mr Corbyn's call for "frictionless" trade would mean remaining in the single market and reneging on Labour's commitment to end free movement.

Although Britain's Treasury chief Philip Hammond argued the British economy remains "fundamentally strong" and is "enjoying the longest unbroken quarterly growth streak" among the Group of Seven industrialised countries, he conceded that Brexit unease was taking its toll.

The Prime Minister has previously ruled out a customs union, which would restrict the UK's ability to strike trade deals, and could face Cabinet resignations if she changed her position.

She told Sky News: "I absolutely do not think that should be our policy".

May needs Parliament to approve a deal on departing the European Union by March 29.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set out the conditions under which he would instruct his party to support an exit deal in parliament.

"The government will commit that if the meaningful vote, in other words the deal coming back, has not happened by the 27th of February, then we would allow a further motion - votable in Parliament - to take place, to give that sense of assurance as to the process moving forward", he told the BBC's "Andrew Marr Show".

She'll say that if she hasn't brought them new deal by February 27, there will then be another opportunity to vote, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire confirmed in an interview.

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