UK PM Theresa May unveiled her BREXIT Plan Monday, and it looks a lot like Plan A.
Mr.s May launched a mission to resuscitate her rejected EU divorce deal, setting out plans to get it approved by Parliament after securing changes from the EU to a contentious Irish border measure.
Mrs. May’s opponents expressed incredulity. Last week British lawmakers dealt the deal a defeat, and EU leaders insist they will not renegotiate it.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party accused Mr. May of being in “deep denial” about her doomed deal.
“This really does feel a bit like ‘Groundhog Day,'” he said, referring to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, in which a weatherman is fated to live out the same day over and over again.
Outlining what she plans to do after her EU divorce deal was rejected by Parliament last week, Mrs. May said that she had heeded lawmakers’ concerns over 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 UK’s Northern Ireland after BREXIT.
Mr.s May told the House of Commons that she would be “talking further this week to colleagues … to consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House.
“And I will then take the conclusions of those discussions back to the EU.”
While Mrs. May stuck to her deal, she also acknowledged that control over BREXIT was not entirely in her hands. She noted that lawmakers will be able to amend her plan when it comes to a vote in the House of Commons on 29 January, Britain is due to leave the EU on 29 March.
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 UK tethered to the bloc’s rules and unable to forge an independent trade policy. Pro-Europeans argue it is inferior to the friction-less economic relationship Britain currently enjoys as an EU member.
After her deal was thrown out last week by Parliament, Mrs. May said she would consult with lawmakers from all parties to find a new way forward.
Monday, Mrs. May rejected calls from pro-EU lawmakers to delay Britain’s departure from the bloc or to hold a 2nd referendum on whether to leave.
In a nod to opposition parties’ concerns, she promised to consult lawmakers, trade unionists, business groups and civil society organizations “to try to find the broadest possible consensus” on future ties between Britain and the EU, and said the government would not water down protections for the environment and workers’ rights after BREXIT.
Mrs. May’s immediate goal is 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.
The backstop proposes to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU in order to avoid checks on the Irish border. It is meant as a temporary measure that would last until a permanent solution is found. But pro-BREXIT UK lawmakers fear Britain could become trapped in it, indefinitely bound by EU trade rules.
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 29 March 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.
Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said Monday was “another bleak day for business.”
“Parliament remains in deadlock while the slope to a cliff edge steepens,” she said.
Several groups of lawmakers are trying to use parliamentary rules and amendments to Mrs. May’s plan to block the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
Have a terrific week
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