Published: Mon, February 04, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

May 'determined' United Kingdom will leave European Union on time in March

May 'determined' United Kingdom will leave European Union on time in March

So far Brussels has insisted that its so-called backstop arrangement, aimed at ensuring there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, must stay as part of any deal.

With just eight weeks to go before Britain ends its membership of the European Union (EU), May issued a plea to lawmakers in the House of Commons to stand together to support a new deal.

The backstop is meant to ensure there is no return to a hard border with Ireland, but Brexit supporters fear it will keep Britain tied to the EU's customs rules.

Mr McDonnell also said talk of such "contractual" arrangements, first reported in the Times, pledging investment in the constituencies of MPs who back Mrs May's deal, was "dangerous for our democracy".

She said: "When I return to Brussels I will be battling for Britain and Northern Ireland".

The EU insists that the deal "remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal", but with the clock running down until the March 29 exit date the risks of a no-deal Brexit for both Britain and the bloc are coming into sharp focus.

Mrs. May said she rejected the suggestion "that seeking alternative arrangements for the backstop constituted "ripping up the Good Friday Agreement".

May wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, saying even Labour's Jeremy Corbyn agrees the Brexit deal needs changes to the contentious Irish border backstop.

He is the second senior minister to suggest such a delay may be needed, after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday Britain may need time to get legislation through.

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MPs voted last week to send May back to Brussels to renegotiate the clause, suggesting her deal would then be able to pass after it was roundly rejected in parliament last month.

Under the current Brexit deal, the 310-mile Irish border would become the only land border between the European Union and the UK.

Police are continuing to investigate Friday's discovery of a cache of ammunition in the Omeath area on the Cooley Peninsula near the border with Northern Ireland.

May argued that lawmakers would be "happy with the current backstop if there was a time limit or unilateral exit mechanism".

"That is what Parliament instructed me to do on Tuesday night", May said asserted.

And our correspondent added that the United Kingdom has not yet publicly suggested an alternative Brussels could live with.

The UK's withdrawal from the European Union may lead to a return of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland sides in potential violation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which specifically stipulates that no physical border should exist between the two sides.

MPs vote that the Irish backstop should be removed from the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

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