British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she continues to be “determined” to deliver Brexit on time as she is preparing to reopen the negotiations with the European Union regarding the issue of the Irish backstop.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, the Prime Minister said that she would be going to Brussels to with a “fresh mandate, new ideas and a renewed determination” to stick to the agreed UK departure date on the 29th March.
Late last month, the MPs voted in favour of an amendment that was tabled by Sir Graham Brady to look for “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop after the MPs turned down the Brexit deal of the Prime Minister by historic margins last January.
The Irish backstop has been proven to be the primary sticking point in the Brexit talks. It would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the European Union in order to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland until a formal trade deal can be agreed. It resulted in fears that it could undermine the Good Friday agreement. However, it has irked the Brexiters who are concerned that the United Kingdom could be kept in the arrangement indefinitely.
In the article, PM 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 on a pragmatic solution that delivers the Brexit the British people voted for, while ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
She continued: “That is what parliament instructed me to do on Tuesday night.
May added:“Although Jeremy Corbyn didn’t vote with us, he also believes the potential indefinite nature of the backstop is an issue that needs to be addressed with Brussels. That is exactly what I’m doing.”
The European Union has repeatedly said that the backstop is not open for renegotiation. In an article for the Sunday Times, Simon Coveney, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, wrote: “The EU will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and there will be no withdrawal agreement without the backstop.”
Earlier this week, Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, suggested that the government may require “extra time” in order to get the “critical legislation” that is needed for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union through parliament.
Hunt stated: “It is true that if we ended up approving a deal in the days before the 29 March, then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation. But if we are able to make progress sooner then that might not be necessary.”
On Monday, the House of Commons Brexit Committee is scheduled to visit Brussels to meet Martin Selmayr, the EU negotiator and Commission secretary-general, Sir Tim Barrow, the ambassador to the EU, and Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament Brexit coordinator.
May is scheduled to report back to the Commons regarding the results of her discussions with the European Union on the 13th of February, with the MPs expected to vote the next day.