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Theresa May gave EU assurance there will be Irish backstop after Brexit: Verhofstadt

Theresa May gave an assurance there will be a backstop in the UK's withdrawal deal with the EU, Guy Verhofstadt has said.

The EU parliament's Brexit co-ordinator said the backstop issue should be solved in the Political Declaration.

The European Commission pledged to help Mrs May find a solution in order to gain the support of parliament.

The Prime Minister travelled to Brussels on Thursday after Parliament rejected her agreement with the EU. She pledged to seek changes to the deal and the so-called insurance policy, the backstop which is aimed at ensuring there is no need for a hardening of the border in Ireland.

The parliament's Brexit co-ordinator Verhofstadt said Mrs May "assured us that there will be a backstop".

He added: "There is no question to remove the backstop because that is absolutely necessary for securing and safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, safeguarding the internal market and safeguarding also the peace process."

Mr Verhofstadt welcomed the letter from Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa May, saying "cross-party co-operation is the way forward".

He hit out at Brexiteers who support the "disaster" of a no-deal outcome.

"It is a disaster on both sides of the Channel and it is, in fact, irresponsible from some politicians in Britain to go for such a no deal and to prefer such a no deal," he said.

After talks with European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said: "We are open to being more ambitious on our future relations, including looking at the Irish situation again if the UK's red lines change."

The meeting - in a joint statement - was described as "robust but constructive".

A spokesman added: "Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council.

"The Prime Minister and the [EU Commission] President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions."

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