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Ireland PM says responsibility for no deal rests with UK



Irish PM Leo Varadkar has said that it could be up to British MPs to seek an extension of revocation of article 50 to avoid a no deal.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar noted parliament should use their “gift” to prevent a ‘no deal’ divorce, suggesting there was “no majority” for Mrs May’s plan.

He said parliament could delay or scrap Brexit if the UK stays on course to crash out on 29 March 2019 without Downing Street having secured ratification of Mrs May’s agreement.

The plea came as EU leaders gathered over dinner in Brussels, clouded by uncertainty.

Mrs May has spent the day in the Belgian capital, fresh from surviving a confidence vote with backing from two-thirds of her MPs.

She had promised to get legal assurances that the Irish “backstop” will not last indefinitely, but at the start of the day she warned not to expect an “immediate breakthrough”.

That fear is a central plank of her own party’s critics – and led to her pulling a vote in the Commons that she was expected to lose significantly.

 Theresa May said she was not expecting 'immediate breakthrough' and confirmed she won't stand in 2022.


Theresa May said she was not expecting ‘immediate breakthrough’ and confirmed she won’t stand in 2022.

She met Mr Varadkar for a pre-summit sit-down to pitch ideas for placating her Brexiteer backbenchers.

The Taoiseach claimed that some ideas “made sense” but others were “difficult”.

Immediately after the discussion he told Sky News: “Let’s not forget, ultimately, it is within the gift of the UK government and the UK Parliament to take the threat of no deal off the table… to revoke Article 50… or to seek an extension of Article 50.”

He added: “It seems to me there is a majority in Westminster in favour of the proposition ‘there shouldn’t be no deal’.

“But there doesn’t seem to be a majority in favour of any particular deal.”

Mr Varadkar did maintain his “preferred” option was to ratify the deal already agreed between the UK and the EU.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the comments proved “the trap the prime minister is in is getting tighter”.

Sky News’ Europe correspondent Mark Stone said: “This is a very interesting development… We’ve not heard this in such direct terms from another EU leader, appearing to go over the head of the British government and appealing to parliament.”

He added that Mr Varadkar is “very, very worried”, adding that there will be no resolution to the backstop this side of Christmas”.

More EU leaders also swooped in early to rule out any changes to the legally-binding Brexit divorce deal.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani declared he was happy to discuss any concerns, but vowed “not to make further concessions” or change the “legal content”.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also told Sky News he “hoped to find a solution” but that it would be political – not legal.

A joke tweeted by the Lithuanian leader cut through, a little blunter: “#Brexit Christmas wish: Finally decide what you really want and Santa will deliver,” she wrote.

Sky’s political editor Faisal Islam said: “The PM has come to Brussels to convey to some sceptical Europeans that she can still get this deal through parliament, despite the 117 that voted no confidence in her.

“This, to me, displays that some EU leaders at least, are still not convinced that she has the numbers and if she doesn’t, that is why they’re floating the ideas around Article 50 delay or revocation.

“That doesn’t seem to me to be a great sign for the PM as she explains the next stage of the process to EU leaders right now.”

Despite the pressure mounting on Mrs May from Brussels, it was a public admission she greeted reporters with that relaxed tensions back home.

“The next general election is in 2022 and I think it is right that another party leader takes us into that general election,” she said.

It was an assurance first given to Conservative MPs on Wednesday night in a bid to save her job by winning a confidence vote. Under the rules, she cannot be challenged by a confidence vote again for 12 months.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tweeted: “It’s clear that after Theresa May went back to Brussels today that there’ll be no changes to her botched Brexit deal.

“There must be no more delays or attempts to run down the clock to deny Parliament alternative options.

“There’s no time to waste and Parliament must take back control.”

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