Nein! German minister pours cold water on PM's renegotiation plans

Faith Castro
January 31, 2019

"It allows the PM to give a very clear message about what the parliament wants and where the party is", Lewis said.

In an apparent attempt to fend off possible defeat on other amendments which could delay Brexit or rule out a no-deal departure, May promised that Tuesday's votes would not be MPs' final chance to pass judgment on European Union withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the European Union says it is now exclusively up to Mrs May and MPs to agree on a counter-proposal to the Brexit deal they rejected, with negotiations only reopening once this is achieved.

The Commons will on Tuesday be asked to cast its verdict on a string of alternatives to May's deal - including asking for an Article 50 extension - after her agreement was roundly rejected in an historic Commons vote earlier this month.

In an effort to appease those Tories who are proposing to back Boles and Cooper's plan to delay Brexit, May promised they would have another chance to vote to stop Britain leaving the bloc without a deal, according to people in the room Monday.

The pound then sunk even further by almost 0.7% as a number of other amendments were voted on - particularly MPs backing a call for the Brexit deal to be passed if backstop removed.

Another danger for the prime minister is that pro-Remain Conservative MPs may back an amendment by Labour's Yvette Cooper which would potentially delay Brexit.

Sir Graham Brady, the influential head of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee, wants to overcome the main hurdle to May's deal by replacing the "Irish backstop".

European Union officials have been adamant for months, however, that there is no room to renegotiate the so-called "backstop" element of the current draft Brexit plan, which is created to keep the Ireland-Northern Ireland border open regardless of whether a final customs deal is reached. "We are extremely concerned that our customers will be among the first to experience the realities of a no deal Brexit".

"The backstop is not a prerequisite for the future relationship", she said.

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said his lawmakers would support amendments meant to "block a disastrous no-deal".

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But it's far from certain the amendment can win support from a majority in the House of Commons.

Trying to break the Brexit deadlock, Mrs May urged politicians to send the European Union an "emphatic message" that they would not accept an Irish border guarantee in the withdrawal deal - a provision Mrs May and the European Union both approved late previous year.

The amendments are not legally binding on the PM, but majority support for any would place enormous political pressure on Mrs May as she seeks a way ahead after the crushing defeat of her plan by 230 votes earlier this month.

Ireland's European Affairs Minister, Helen McEntee, said: "There can be no change to the backstop".

Ms Sturgeon said: "I don't think she had a clue herself where she's going, if I can be as blunt as that".

She tweeted: "There won't be any renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement & all the nonsense is a smokescreen whilst the clock runs down to No Deal".

It's now all about the Brexit vote amendments with the latest being that Tory MP Nick Morgan saying that she will back the Brady Amendment and will also vote for the Cooper Amendment.

He spoke to Eddie Mair on the eve of a new round of crunch Brexit votes in the Commons.

Brussels has been adamant that it will not reopen the Agreement, struck by Mrs May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and signed off by leaders of the remaining 27 EU states last November.

European Commission vice-president Jyrki Kateinen said there was "no reason to give any concessions" to the United Kingdom and there was "not much room for manoeuvre" on the backstop.

"Tonight's votes only kick the can down the road for another two weeks", he said.

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