pcloudy.png
Monday February 17th, 2020 11:01AM

Few signs of breakthrough as May set to unveil Brexit Plan B

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May was set to unveil her new plan to break Britain's Brexit deadlock on Monday — one expected to look a lot like the old plan that was decisively rejected by Parliament last week.

May was scheduled to brief the House of Commons on how she intends to proceed. There were few signs she planned to make radical changes to her deal, though she may seek alterations to its most contentious section, an insurance policy known as the "backstop" that is intended to guarantee there are no customs checks along the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.'s Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The EU insists it will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

"This is the text we all invested ourselves in," Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said as she arrived for a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

British lawmakers are due to vote on May's "Plan B," and possible amendments, on Jan. 29, two months before Britain is due to leave the EU.

Britain and the EU sealed a divorce deal in November after months of tense negotiations. But the agreement has been rejected by both sides of Britain's divide over Europe. Brexit-backing lawmakers say it will leave the U.K. tethered to the bloc's rules and unable to forge an independent trade policy. Pro-Europeans argue it is inferior to the frictionless economic relationship Britain currently enjoys as an EU member.

After her deal was thrown out last week by a crushing 432-202 vote in Parliament, May said she would consult with lawmakers from all parties to find a new way forward.

But Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the cross-party meetings a "stunt," and other opposition leaders said the prime minister didn't heed their entreaties to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit and retain close economic ties with the EU.

Instead, May looks set to try to win over pro-Brexit Conservatives and her party's Northern Irish ally, the Democratic Unionist Party. Both groups say they won't back the deal unless the border backstop is removed.

May's spokesman, James Slack, said that May's talks with opposition lawmakers were "genuine," and that a "significant number" had expressed concerns about the backstop.

The backstop proposes to keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU in order to avoid checks and border infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland. It is meant as a temporary measure that would last until a permanent solution is found. But pro-Brexit U.K. lawmakers fear Britain could become trapped in it, indefinitely bound by EU trade rules.

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz broke ranks with EU colleagues Monday by suggesting the problem could be solved by setting a five-year time limit on the backstop.

The idea got a cool reception. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that "putting a time-limit on an insurance mechanism, which is what the backstop is, effectively means that it's not a backstop at all."

Britain's political impasse over Brexit is fueling concerns that the country may crash out of the EU on March 29 with no agreement in place to cushion the shock. That could see tariffs imposed on goods moving between Britain and the EU, sparking logjams at ports and shortages of essential supplies.

Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said Sunday that a no-deal Brexit would be "catastrophic," and it was "inevitable" Britain will have to ask the EU to extend the two-year countdown to exit.

Several groups of lawmakers are trying to use parliamentary rules and amendments to May's plan to block the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

One of those legislators, Labour's Yvette Cooper, said May was shirking her responsibility to the country by refusing to take "no deal" off the table.

"I think she knows that she should rule out 'no deal' in the national interest because it would be so damaging," Cooper told the BBC. "She's refusing to do so, and I think she's hoping that Parliament will do this for her. That is not leadership."

EU leaders, meanwhile, expressed frustration with British indecision.

"We now know what they don't want in London," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. "Now we must at last find out what they want."

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that while the EU wouldn't amend the legally binding withdrawal agreement, it was ready to adjust the political declaration — a non-binding statement on future relations that forms the second part of the divorce deal.

Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Josep Borrell said it was crucial to find out what type of deal Britain's Parliament would support.

"We cannot keep negotiating something this way and when everything is negotiated, the U.K. Parliament refuses," he said in Brussels. "We have to have the guarantee that the proposal has the parliamentary support not to be refused again."

___

Raf Casert reported from Brussels. Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: European nations vow to hold firm on Brexit deal
European Union nations vow not to reopen the draft agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the bloc as they await details of British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to break the Brexit deadlock
4:53AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist al-Gailani
Iraq mourns loss of beloved archaeologist al-Gailani who helped rebuild Baghdad museum after 2003 US-led invasion
4:51AM ( 15 minutes ago )
EU's antitrust cop lays groundwork for more tech scrutiny
EU antitrust enforcer and Silicon Valley nemesis Vestager lays groundwork for more tech scrutiny after term ends
4:46AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Shutdown goes on as Trump offer doesn't budge Democrats
A weekend offer that Trump calls a compromise doesn't appear to be on track to ending the partial government shutdown
4:08AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Filipino Muslims vote on autonomy after long peace effort
Muslims in the southern Philippines are voting in a referendum on a new autonomous region that seeks to end nearly half a century of unrest
1:33AM ( 3 hours ago )
Bolton's test: Massaging Trump tweets into foreign policy
Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, fine-tunes presidential pronouncements into foreign policy
12:43AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump upbraids Pelosi for rejecting his proposal
Trump upbraids House Speaker Pelosi for rejecting his proposal to exchange temporary protections for some immigrants for $5.7 billion for his border wall.
1:03PM ( 16 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump appears to threaten millions of immigrants
Trump tweets apparent threat to target millions living in the country illegally if he doesn't get border wall funding
12:58PM ( 16 hours ago )
Gillibrand, in Iowa, highlights family, children issues
Gillibrand highlights family, children issues as she introduces herself to Iowa Democrats
12:31PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Israel says it hit Iranian military sites in Syria; 11 dead
Israel says Iranian targets hit in Syria include munition facilities, intel site, military training camp; 11 dead
4:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
More sexual abuse claims rock South Korean skating
An athletes' group has raised further allegations of sexual abuse in South Korean speed skating following explosive claims by two-time Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee that she had been raped by her former coach
2:09AM ( 2 hours ago )
Ex-Nissan chairman Ghosn asks for bail, promises not to flee
Nissan's ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn promises to wear ankle monitor in latest request for bail after two-months of detention in Japan
12:20AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP World News
Qatar to invest $500 million in Lebanese government bonds
Qatar announces it will invest $500 million in Lebanese government bonds to support struggling economy
4:09AM ( 57 minutes ago )
Asian markets advance on optimism over China-US trade
Asian markets advance on optimism over China-US trade, despite weaker Chinese growth data
1:30AM ( 3 hours ago )
China 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low
China's 2018 economic growth falls to 3-decade low of 6.6 percent amid tariff battle with Washington
9:40PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business
The Latest: European nations vow to hold firm on Brexit deal
European Union nations vow not to reopen the draft agreement on Britain's withdrawal from the bloc as they await details of British Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to break the Brexit deadlock
4:53AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist al-Gailani
Iraq mourns loss of beloved archaeologist al-Gailani who helped rebuild Baghdad museum after 2003 US-led invasion
4:51AM ( 15 minutes ago )
EU's antitrust cop lays groundwork for more tech scrutiny
EU antitrust enforcer and Silicon Valley nemesis Vestager lays groundwork for more tech scrutiny after term ends
4:46AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Shares mixed as China says 2018 growth slowest since '90
World shares mixed after China reports economy grew at slowest pace in 3 decades in 2018
4:25AM ( 42 minutes ago )
2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus
The moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the only total lunar eclipse this year and next
4:22AM ( 44 minutes ago )