May to promise new Brexit debate in push for more negotiating time

PM May Vows ‘Brexit on Time’ While Inner Circle Talk Up Brexit Delay		Getty Images8 Feb 2019

Ministers have conceded in private meetings with business leaders that they will not be able to replace all of the deals before the Brexit deadline on 29 March, meaning a large proportion of United Kingdom exports could shift to World Trade Organization rules.

Speaking after a dinner with Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Monday night, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said the talks had been "constructive", but added it was "clear from our side we're not going to reopen the withdrawal agreement, but we will continue our discussions in the coming days".

For remaining European Union members, Mr Bettel says the ongoing uncertainty in London "puts us in a position where we don't know what is likely to happen tomorrow".

The International Trade Secretary Liam Fox dismissed Labour's plans as unworkable, while Boris Johnson warned that such a deal would have a disastrous effect on the Conservative party.

"The position of the Brexiteers today, to sum it up in one sentence is 'No".

The move is aimed at postponing a rebellion by ministers who want to remove the possibility a no-deal Brexit.

In a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, she questioned his call for a customs union with Brussels, but offered concessions in other areas and said she wanted talks between Labour and Tory teams "as soon as possible".

In her letter May argued that her own Brexit plan "explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union" in terms of avoiding tariffs, while allowing "development of the UK's independent trade policy beyond our economic partnership with the EU". But it would prevent Britain from making its own trade deals after Brexit.

"I agree that the longer this goes on, the more risky it gets, obviously", Stewart said.

Last month, the Parliament approved an amendment that supported most of the deal but called for backstop - a last-resort option to prevent a hard border in Ireland to be replaced with "alternative arrangements".

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves a church near High Wycombe, Britain February 10, 2019.

Time pressure is mounting.

The EU is urging May to work with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to unlock ratification of the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with Brussels.

But Downing Street announced the statement has been brought forward to give parliament a couple of days to consider it before Thursday's Commons debate.

Lawmakers may be unnerved by the latest round of financial data, which showed Monday that Britain's economy slowed a year ago to its weakest growth rate since the global financial crisis.

But in the case of a "no-deal" Brexit, those agreements will no longer apply to Swiss-British relations, and the new bilateral trade agreement between the two countries will kick in.

Supporters accuse Mrs May of trying to run down the clock until Brexit day so she can effectively say to MPs that it is her deal or no deal.

"We never pushed for Brexit, we never demanded Brexit", Bettel said.

"I absolutely do not think that should be our policy", she told Sky News on Sunday. "I'm afraid this has gone on longer than we would have liked".

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