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Theresa May begs MPs and EU to ‘get Brexit done’ as clock ticks down to crucial vote

3 min read

Theresa May has urged MPs and the European Union to help her “get it done” ahead of next week’s crunch Commons vote on her beleaguered Brexit deal.


The Prime Minister warned Eurosceptic MPs they risked scuppering Brexit altogether if they fail to swing behind her agreement in next Tuesday’s meaningful vote.

And she warned that any delay to Brexit could lead to months more wrangling about Britain’s departure from the EU.

She made the comments shortly before EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier offered the UK a unilateral exit from a specific part of the controversial backstop plan.

In a speech delivered in the heavily Leave-voting town of Grimsby on Friday, the Prime Minister urged MPs to back her deal to ensure the "UK will leave the European Union.

She addedd: "Reject it and no one knows what will happen. We may not leave the EU for many months.

"We may leave without the protections that the deal provides. We may never leave at all. The only certainty would be ongoing uncertainty. 

"Months more spent arguing about Brexit, when we could be focusing on improving our NHS, our schools and our communities."

'ONE MORE PUSH'

In a direct plea to EU leaders, Mrs May said “one more push” was needed from Brussels to get her withdrawal agreement - which was overwhelmingly rejected in a vote last month - through the House of Commons next week.

"European leaders tell me they worry that time is running out, and that we only have one chance to get it right," she said.

"My message to them is: now is the moment for us to act. We have worked hard together over two years on the deal.

"It is a comprehensive deal that provides for an orderly exit from the EU, and that sets a platform for an ambitious future relationship.

"It needs just one more push, to address the final specific concerns of our Parliament. So let’s not hold back."

The speech comes after efforts to persuade the European Union to agree changes to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop ran aground following talks in Brussels.

Mrs May said she had spelled out MPs' concerns about the arrangement - which could see Britain indefinitely kept in a customs union with the bloc to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland - to "every single EU leader".

And she insisted that the Government remained “focused on getting the legal changes MPs have asked for” ahead of next week’s Commons showdown.

BARNIER OFFER

Meanwhile, Mr Barnier said the EU was willing to give legal force to commitments it has made on the backstop plan to keep the Northern Irish border open in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

MPs are concerned that the UK could end up trapped in a permanent customs union with the EU with no say on its rules if Britain has to fall into the backstop.

But Mr Barnier offered the UK the ability to unilaterally withdraw Great Britain from any customs union under the terms of the backstop.

The proposal would leave Northern Ireland in the arrangement - effectively creating a border down the Irish sea - something Mrs May has consistently rejected.

His plan is also unlikely to be welcomed by MPs or the DUP - which props Mrs May up in her minority government.

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