British Prime Minister Theresa May intends to seal a bilateral treaty with the Irish government as a tool to remove the so-called “backstop” arrangement from Article 50 deal with the European Union, according to media reports.
May thought a deal with Ireland would remove the opposition to her Brexit plan from the Democratic Unionist Party that supports her minority government and from discontent pro hard Brexit MPs in Conservative Party, the Sunday Times reported.
Three lawmakers loyal to Prime Minister Theresa May have proposed new Brexit safeguards to offer the Westminster on the issue of Northern Ireland in a bid to help the leader to win a crucial vote approving the government’s Article 50 deal.
May is struggling to get her Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union through Parliament in a vote on December 11 that will shape the UK departure from the bloc and the Prime Minister’s future as a leader.
The main vote is on a motion stating that lawmakers in the 650-seat House of Commons approve the Brexit deal, however lawmakers can also try to amend the text in the process.
The latest amendment addresses the backstop, an element of the deal that has disappointed lawmakers in May’s own party and her allies in Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It is intended to ensure there is no return to a hard border between British Northern Ireland and EU member-state Ireland.
Critics say however it could leave Britain forced to accept EU regulations indefinitely, or it will regard Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Laura Kuenssberg, theBBC ’s political editor published in her Twitter micro blog a photo of a signed amendment which would give Parliament a vote on whether the UK should enter the backstop period, or whether an extension to the implementation period should be sought instead.
At present the forecasts are pessimistic, indicating that May would lose the vote.
The Northern Irish lawmakers, the allies of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government sent her a stark warning over her draft Brexit deal, refusing support in several parliamentary votes on a finance bill.
Since striking a draft Article 50 deal with the EU27 a week ago, some lawmakers in her Conservative Party have tried to challenge her leadership and her Northern Irish allies added the deal threatens the unity of the country.
May vowed to defend the fruits of her work repeatedly cautioning her critics of the damages to the Britons if they undermine her, the United Kingdom will be confronted with a potentially disorderly departure from the EU on March 29 or that Brexit could be postponed or even canceled for that date.
“We had to do something to show our displeasure,” the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson, said.
The votes, he said, were “designed to send a political message to the government: Look we’ve got an agreement with you but you’ve got to keep your side of the bargain otherwise we don’t feel obliged to keep ours.”
The European Union and Britain have agreed a draft text of a Brexit withdrawal agreement and Prime Minister Theresa May will present it to her senior ministers on Wednesday.
“Cabinet will meet at 2 p.m. tomorrow to consider the draft agreement the negotiating teams have reached in Brussels, and to decide on next steps,” a spokesman at May’s Downing Street office said.
“It is going to be a “very, very hard sell” for British Prime Minister Theresa May to win parliamentary backing for her emerging Brexit deal”, said the deputy leader of Northern Ireland DUP party.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the ally of Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, said that it wanted a Brexit that worked for the Republic of Ireland too, as its leader Arlene Foster travels to Brussels for talks with EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is the apple of discord in Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, and both sides are trying to work out how to monitor and regulate trade over the border, without creating standard infrastructure.
AMENDED: “There is only one red line… when we are treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom”, Foster said at press-conference in European Parliament.
Michel Barnier, the EU top Brexit negotiator said “the time has now come to resolve the contradictions” over the Northern Irish border. His position was announced ahead of the visit to the island of Ireland for attending the conference on Civil Dialogue, and hear opinions from both sides.
Barnier also warned that protracted negotiations over the Irish border issue would lead to entire collapse of the Brexit Article 50 talks.
Commenting Barnier’s position, the Northern Ireland DUP party contested his position of an ‘honest broker’, understanding complexity of the issue. “…His proposal of us being in an all-Ireland regulatory scenario with a border down the Irish Sea simply does not work. I don’t think he does understand the wider unionist culture of Northern Ireland,” DUP’ leader Arlene Foster said to the UK national broadcaster.
A breakthrough will not be possible before a 1500 GMT deadline to restore Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said as Britain called for an agreement “as soon as possible”.
Northern Ireland politics has been in crisis since the collapse in January of the compulsory coalition between pro-British unionists and Irish nationalists mandated under a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian violence.
Britain’s Northern Ireland minister James Brokenshire told a number of issues were outstanding between the two main parties and while he did not explicitly set a fresh time line, the DUP confirmed that an agreement was not imminent.
“There is not going to be a breakthrough which will lead to nominations taking place today,” DUP assembly member Edwin Poots said to reporters, referring to the scheduled nominations of new ministers cancelled shortly after his remarks.
“Talks will continue. We can conclude this within days but that is not in our gift.