British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will seek a “pragmatic solution” to a parliamentary impasse over the terms on which Britain leaves the European Union when she tries to reopen talks with Brussels.
With less than two months until Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, concerns are growing over the risk of a disorderly ‘no deal’ exit.
Japanese car-maker Nissan cancelled plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in Britain, saying while it had taken the decision for business reasons the continued uncertainty around Britain’s future EU ties was “not helping companies like ours to plan for the future”.
The issue that has brought most opposition from MPs in her Conservative Party is the post-Brexit border between the United Kingdom and Ireland, but May, writing in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, shed little light on how she intended to resolve it.
Members of parliament, who last month rejected Ms May’s Brexit deal with the EU, have instructed her to return to Brussels to renegotiate the arrangements for Northern Ireland.
The EU has rejected reopening talks on the so-called backstop, an insurance policy to keep an open border on the island of Ireland if Britain and the EU fail to reach a longer-term trade agreement before the end of a transition period.
“MPs said that, with changes to the Northern Ireland backstop, they would support the deal that I agreed with Brussels to take us out of the EU,” May wrote.
When I return to Brussels I will be battling for Britain and Northern Ireland, I will be armed with a fresh mandate, new ideas and a renewed determination to agree a pragmatic solution that delivers the Brexit the British people voted for.”
But prominent eurosceptic Conservative Steve Baker said many pro-Brexit MPs had broader concerns about her deal.
Pro-Brexit trade minister Liam Fox said it would be “irresponsible” for the EU to refuse to reopen the Brexit negotiations.
“Are they really saying that they would rather not negotiate and end up in a ‘no-deal’ position?” Fox told Sky News. “It is in all our interests to get to that agreement and for the EU to say we are not going to even discuss it seems to me to be quite irresponsible.”
Meanwhile senior members of the hardline eurosceptic European Research Group have been drafted in by the government to help develop an alternative to the Irish backstop, Downing Street said.
Mr Baker, the ERG deputy leader, former Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson and Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh will be part of the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, which will meet for the first time on Monday, a No 10 spokeswoman said.