17/10/2018 – May Looks for Unity on Backstop Issue


British Prime Minister Theresa May told her ministers on Tuesday they would secure a Brexit deal if they stood together, calling for a show of unity to silence those pressing her to rethink her strategy for leaving the European Union.

A day before heading to Brussels for a summit, May is keen to show she has her cabinet’s support after facing pressure from some members of her Conservative Party and the EU to change tack on Brexit. She will face demands in the Belgian capital to come up with new ideas to break a deadlock in the Brexit talks over the so-called Irish backstop, a fall back plan to prevent a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

May’s spokesman said the cabinet had held “a very detailed and thorough discussion” on the border issue, with the team united in rejecting any deal that would split the United Kingdom and might “trap” Britain in the backstop indefinitely.

“The PM said there will no doubt be challenging moments ahead, that is in the nature of negotiations. She said she is committed to securing a Brexit that delivers on the referendum result, safeguards jobs and security, and which preserves our union,” her spokesman told reporters.

Both sides say much of the withdrawal agreement, which sets the divorce terms for Britain’s departure, has been agreed, but there are still outstanding issues, mostly on the backstop.

The EU has stuck to its position – a backstop to prevent a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland cannot be time-limited and cannot include the whole of the United Kingdom remaining in the customs union.

European Council President Donald Tusk said he would ask May at Wednesday’s summit whether she had any new proposals to break the impasse. “For a breakthrough to take place besides goodwill we need new facts,” he said.

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