May Expected in Strasbourg in Late Bid for Brexit Breakthrough

12 March, 2019, 06:29 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary

Scrambling to plot an orderly path out of the Brexit maze just days before the United Kingdom is due to leave on March 29, May rushed to Strasbourg to agree additional assurances with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. As a result, she can not be forced from office for a year.

"Finally, the House of Commons is going to have to make a final judgment on what it wants in terms of Brexit", he said.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the only talks that mattered now were "between the government in London and the Parliament in London", indicating very little scope for concessions from the EU side ahead of Tuesday's vote.

But MPs on all sides in London were swift to condemn it for a variety of reasons, and it was rejected in January by 432 votes to 202.

The prime minister's office said a trip was not confirmed, though Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said May planned to go to Strasbourg later Monday "to try to finalize an agreement, if that's possible".

"The intention is for it not to be used, like in every insurance policy and if it is ever used it will never be a trap - if either side acts in bad faith, there is a legal way for other party to exist", the European Union chief said.

But if they reject it, MPs could vote on Thursday to delay Brexit - giving further time for pro-Europeans to try to undermine the whole process.

"I think that an important offer has again been made to Britain, and now it is, of course, for Britain to respond to these offers", she said in Berlin.

Brexit is part of the agenda with the UK's exit deadline fast approaching.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Labour Party has been mounting pressure on the government for an official update to Parliament on the talks with the EU.

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This would force the government to ask Brussels for a technical delay to Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the European Union which was triggered on March 29 two years ago.

That was because MPs were unhappy with the Northern Ireland backstop and were anxious the United Kingdom could be held in this insurance policy indefinitely, if the United Kingdom is unable to agree on a future relationship with the European Union by the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020.

"The situation is very fluid but the market is perceiving hard Brexit scenarios as increasingly unlikely", said Vassili Serebriakov, a macro strategist at UBS Securities LLC in NY.

However, her party has also confirmed that it will not push for a parliamentary vote on a second referendum this week even if the Brexit deal is resoundingly defeated.

He and his colleagues insist there is a "silent majority" for a softer form of Brexit, with up to 50 Conservative MPs prepared to back the idea rather than countenance no deal.

Labour has come out in favor of a second vote - albeit with some reservations.

The vote will be on a statement saying that parliament approves a two-part deal: a legal withdrawal treaty, and a political declaration on future relations with the EU.

There has been speculation that the beleaguered prime minister may be forced to resign.

But MPs rejected it in January by a massive 432 votes to 202, with many of May's Conservatives rebelling against her.

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