Theresa May Claims She Will ‘Battle for Britain’ to Secure New EU Deal

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
JACK MONTGOMERY

Theresa May claims she will be “battling for Britain and Northern Ireland” in Brussels over the coming weeks, and that Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn agrees the so-called “backstop” in her failed UK-EU deal needs to be changed.

“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,” the Prime Minister asserted in an article for the Telegraph, referring to a recent series of parliamentary votes in which attempts to block No Deal or force a second referendum were either defeated or withdrawn.

“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,” she claimed.

“That is exactly what I’m doing. I reject the charge that seeking alternative arrangements for the backstop constitutes ‘ripping up the Good Friday Agreement’. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I would never do anything to put that union at risk or jeopardise the hard-won peace.”

“The EU has already accepted the principle of ‘alternative arrangements’ superseding the backstop should it ever be required,” adding that she believes Parliament would also accept the backstop as it stands if changes were made to time-limit it or provide Britain with a unilateral exit mechanism.

As things stand, Mrs May’s deal would see the United Kingdom hand over around £39 billion to the EU and enter into a long “transition” period after Brexit day, in which it would effectively remain an EU member-state but lose its EU representation — adopting new EU rules, maintaining Free Movement and even expanding it to Croatia, and continuing to submit to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The purpose of this “transition” is to continue negotiating a new relationship with the EU — which the Prime Minister’s deal does not do — with the “backstop” coming into force if this cannot be done.

The backstop would see Northern Ireland effectively annexed by the European Union for customs and regulatory purposes with the rest of the United Kingdom being treated as a third country, while mainland Great Britain would sign up to an EU-controlled “single customs territory” with the bloc.

Crucially, the current deal allows this backstop relationship to continue indefinitely, with the British government unable to leave it without the EU’s agreement.

On a more positive note for Leave voters, the Prime Minister said she did not “have time for those who believe the verdict passed by the British people in 2016 should be overturned before it is even implemented.”

“This week the leaders of the campaign for a second referendum had the chance to put their plan before the House of Commons – but they recognised there is no majority in this Parliament to hold another vote. Indeed, I believe there never will be.”

She also appeared to promise she would not delay Brexit, as many Remainers are demanding, insisting: “I’m determined to deliver Brexit, and determined to deliver on time – on March 29, 2019.”

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