Theresa May to meet Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels in last-ditch bid to save Brexit deal

Posted On: 
5th February 2019

Theresa May will visit Brussels on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to win concessions that could get her Brexit deal through the Commons.

Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker
PA Images

The Prime Minister is expected to make a formal proposal to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on how the UK wants to amend or replace the Irish backstop.

It comes after MPs last week voted to push for the backstop – which would keep an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland through a customs union until an alternative can be found - to be replaced by "alternative arrangements".

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Three separate options are currently being considered by ministers - the so-called "Malthouse Compromise", putting an end date on the backstop, or creating a mechanism which allows the UK to leave the arrangement at a time of its choosing.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister refused to be drawn on which one she will opt for, but added: "What is required is for both sides to work together to achieve what both state is their aim, which is for the UK to leave with a deal."

Cabinet ministers spent nearly an hour discussing Brexit this morning, and the spokesman added: "The Prime Minister said discussions with the EU will not be easy, but Parliament has sent a clear message that changes to the backstop are the only way to get a deal approved.

"She said Jeremy Corbyn has said he also has concerns about the backstop, so this is an issue that needs to be resolved, not just for our colleagues and the DUP but for MPs across the House."

The EU however has so far maintained that the agreement is locked down and that the backstop is the only means of ensuring an open frontier.

The crunch talks will immediately follow the PM’s two-day visit to Northern Ireland, where she is due to meet with business representatives and party leaders in a bid to win support for her deal.