UK Prime Minister Vows No Return to Hard Border with Ireland


A Department for Transport spokesman said: "While the transport secretary strongly supports work across government with the European Union to ensure a deal is reached, he will also continue to lead the DfT to ensure all contingencies are prepared for concerning Brexit".

Then there was this answer she gave to our colleagues at UTV during a press conference earlier in the day: "I'm not proposing to persuade people to accept a deal that doesn't contain that insurance policy, what Parliament has said is it wants changes to the backstop".

May plans to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michael Barnier to discuss the backstop.

"Let's look for a solution, a better Brexit deal", said she.

She spoke with business leaders in Tokyo on Tuesday, telling them that despite the March 29 deadline and Brussels rejecting any renegotiation of the existing agreement, there was still time for Britain to reach some kind of arrangement with the bloc.

"The current backstop... is so toxic to those of us living in Northern Ireland", she said.

Downing Street said Mrs May had warned the weekly meeting of the Cabinet that the talks with Brussels would not be easy.

One minister told the Times that while May had to pay "lip service" to the plan, it could not work because: "It doesn't protect the Good Friday agreement, it isn't practical for business and it is not negotiable with Europe".

The suggestion, made "personally" and not on behalf of the committee, was received "courteously", he said, but Brussels is waiting for May to say what she wants.

The DUP would overlook "misgivings" about other aspects of May's deal and support it, Foster said, if the backstop was "dealt with" - though she declined to specify how that would need to happen to secure the party's backing.

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"It is important", Donohoe said, "not to pretend that there can be what some in the United Kingdom are calling, a managed no-deal".

Labour MP Virendra Sharma, a supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, said: 'Surely this is peak Chris Grayling, only this time he's gone worldwide.

A meeting on Monday involving Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith, Theresa Villiers, Steve Baker and Owen Paterson, along with former Remainers Nicky Morgan and Damian Green, was described as "detailed and constructive" by the Brexit Department.

European Union leaders, however, insist the withdrawal agreement the bloc struck with May's government late past year can't be reopened.

A statement to the House of Commons would not be enough, they added, pointing out that Lord Goldsmith's comments on the legal case for the Iraq War to the Lords were far more political and less explicit than his written advice for the government, the source added.

Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald, centre, Martina Anderson, left, and Michelle O'Neil, right, knock down a "mock" wall on the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border, near Newry on January 26.

May committed to renegotiating the backstop after a majority of MPs backed a motion last week calling for alternatives to the arrangement.

Addressing businesses today, May said: "I know that many people in Northern Ireland, and indeed across this island, are anxious about what parliament's rejection of the withdrawal deal means for them".

"The problem is that none of those ideas around alternative arrangements stand up to scrutiny, we have certainly not seen any that have".