Theresa May urges MPs to 'hold our nerve' over Brexit negotiations


Unless Britain passes a deal or delays Brexit, it is due to crash out of the European Union with no agreement on March 29, an event many businesses say would wreck their supply chains.

"There needs to be a day when Parliament says that's it, enough is enough". Nothing to see here.

"The talks are at a crucial stage", May will say, according to extracts from her statement to parliament released in advance by her Downing Street office.

The European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said today British Prime Minister Theresa should endorse a permanent customs union with the bloc - as proposed by the opposition Labour party - to break the impasse over their looming divorce.

Bowing to pressure from his party, Corbyn appears to have endorsed a plan by pro-EU Labour lawmakers that would stop May running down the clock and offering parliament the last-minute stark choice of leaving without a deal or voting for her unpopular withdrawal agreement.

Feel like you've got deja vu?

Here are just a few of the times on the white-knuckle Brexit ride of recent months that May has insisted nothing has changed... But if so, it will probably just lead to a eurosceptic backlash.

May's Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, traveled to Strasbourg on Monday to meet the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and talk about the Irish backstop issue, which aims to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic by binding the United Kingdom to European Union rules until a free-trade deal is inked, something critics fear could indefinitely trap the United Kingdom in a watered-down version of European Union membership.

"We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time", Mrs May told the Commons.

"We're taking back control, we won't be paying money over, free movement will end, and we will have our own independent free trade policy, so I definitely don't see the Prime Minister agreeing to Corbyn's world view".

Fair enough. What's an attempted coup in the grand scheme of things? And it is vital too that we keep pace with the best consumer safeguards and environmental protections especially in light in the biodiversity report this week.

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May's deal was resoundingly rejected in December over concerns around the backstop, which MPs pointed out the United Kingdom can not exit of its own accord. They aim to maneuver the whole Brexit mess toward a second referendum, which they believe would overturn the June 2016 plebiscite, in which a thin majority voted to leave the EU.

But it came on the back of some serious head-in-the-sand tactics from the Tory leader.

May told ministers that parliament, which last month roundly rejected her Brexit deal, would not vote on a revised deal this week as she needed more time to negotiate with the EU.

But Mrs May responded: "In most circumstances, that period may be important in order for this House to have an opportunity to study that agreement". Can the Prime Minister confirm that?

The prime minister struck a conciliatory tone in her response to a letter from Mr Corbyn, which set out his five demands for a Brexit deal.

"Parliament must have a much stronger and clearer role in the next phase of the negotiations", she said.

"I do not take the responsibility lightly and my government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our safety and to strengthen our union". We can honour the result of the referendum.

"We are now effectively faced with the stark reality between a devastating no deal, for which the country would rightly never forgive us, and a compromise which virtually no one on any side of the argument is happy with". Her spokesman said she is committed to replacing the backstop with "alternative arrangements".

With MPs backing the amendment in a tight 317 to 301 vote, May agreed to go back to Brussels and attempt to renegotiate the thorny issue. Are we any closer to getting rid of the backstop?

She told Sky News: "I absolutely do not think that should be our policy".

Although MPs could try and engineer votes this Thursday that could reshape Brexit, the expectation is that they will now wait for Mrs May's next update on Tuesday February 26.