PM to stress to EU leaders that UK will not be ‘trapped’ in backstop
Theresa May is to use Brussels talks to state Parliament has sent an ‘unequivocal message’ that change is needed.
Theresa May is to use top level meetings in Brussels to insist the UK will not be “trapped” in Brexit backstop arrangements, Downing Street said.
The Prime Minister will stress during a round of talks on Thursday that changes to the Withdrawal Agreement will be needed to ensure legally binding guarantees regarding the backstop.
At present the backstop, which is intended to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland, would see the UK continue to obey EU customs rules after a transition period if no wider trade deal had been reached.
Mrs May insists she has a clear mandate from Parliament to seek fresh, binding guarantees on the issue from Brussels.
The PM will hold talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council president Donald Tusk and other senior EU figures during her trip to Brussels.
Downing Street said that Mrs May is “open to different ways” of achieving her objectives on the backstop.
The PM will use the meetings to state that Parliament has sent “an unequivocal message that change is required”.
One of the PM’s key messages for EU leaders will be that the Commons has now made it clear it could support the Withdrawal Agreement as long as concerns about the backstop are addressed.
Mrs May also intends to stress that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also has concerns about the backstop, so it is not just an issue for the Tories and their DUP allies.
The PM will state that both sides must “show determination” to get an exit deal “over the line”.
Downing Street said the EU meetings are part of a process leading to the Government bringing back a “meaningful vote” on Brexit to the Commons as soon as possible.
Mrs May travels to Brussels as a war of words between London and Brussels erupted after Mr Tusk said there was a “special place in hell” for people who promoted Brexit without any plan for delivering it.