May going to Strasbourg to seek Brexit breakthrough: Irish FM

With the United Kingdom " s exit from the European Union (EU) approaching its deadline, this Monday the British still do not know whether the so-called Brexit will materialise with or without agreement, or whether the controversial divorce will be extended.

The Scottish party is firmly opposed to Brexit, and its leaders point out that Scotland's population voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Brandon Lewis warned recalcitrant lawmakers, including many in his own party, that if the government's withdrawal plan is voted down Tuesday it is possible Britain will end up staying in the EU.

Underlining that her deal, which saw a historic defeat in January, had needed legally binding changes, May said: "Today we have secured legal changes". It is irritated, too, that Britain is seeking changes to an agreement that May herself helped negotiate.

The backstop is an insurance policy to allow goods and people to move freely between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to prevent a hard border and uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also spoken to EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker about the last-ditch efforts in Strasbourg to find an agreement with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Gove also defended the backstop, saying that if it were to be used he could not imagine European Union politicians "tolerating" it for long.

However, there would be outrage among MPs - especially pro-European Conservatives - if May dropped her promise to give the Commons a series of Brexit votes this week. May wants to revise the deal to reassure opponents that the backstop would be only temporary.

Though Varadkar said that the three documents did not reopen, alter or "undermine" the existing agreements, they represented a "fair compromise by all sides".

Brexit in dates: From Leave shock to brink of extension vote

German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced support for building a common European aircraft carrier to highlight the EU's growing role as a global actor.

The Taoiseach spoke with European Union negotiator Jean-Claude Juncker on the phone.

Whether her Brexit deal passes parliament or not this week, British Prime Minister Theresa May's days are numbered, experts have said.

She said: "The government is being utterly irresponsible and reckless".

Northern Irish business groups have for months urged the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to drop their opposition, at the heart of which is a dispute over managing the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

The splits in her Conservative party became a serious problem after a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when May lost her parliamentary majority.

May is unwilling to abandon her hard-won Brexit agreement and might try to put it to Parliament a third time, especially if she loses by a small margin on Tuesday.

"It would definitely be negative for the pound as markets would conclude that we are moving closer to the Brexit date without a resolution and that raises the risk of a chaotic no-deal Brexit", said Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg.

"Finally, the House of Commons is going to have to make a final judgment on what it wants in terms of Brexit", he said.

  • Leroy Wright