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Theresa May primed for Brussels trip to demand Brexit backstop renegotiation | Politics News



Theresa May will head to Brussels to demand the Brexit deal be opened up for renegotiation to strip out one of its most controversial parts.

The prime minister is expected to press EU leaders to scrap the “backstop” from the divorce deal agreed with them in November.

It comes after MPs voted to call for the insurance policy that would see Northern Ireland aligned with parts of the single market to be scrapped and replaced with “alternative arrangements”.

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Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn will also meet this afternoon for talks to break the Brexit impasse.

The Labour leader dropped his opposition to holding face-to-face discussions in Downing Street after MPs passed a non-binding demand the UK should not leave the EU without an exit deal.

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Mr Corbyn had been calling on her to rule out the “catastrophic” prospect, but Mrs May refused saying it would only weaken her negotiating hand.

It is not yet known when Mrs May could head to Brussels, but she is expected to speak to Donald Tusk over the phone today.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he will meet Theresa May to discuss Brexit after MPs voted against no deal.

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The EU Council president has already stamped out her demands, with a spokesperson saying: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for re-negotiation.”

One minister speculated to Sky News that Mrs May’s trip to the Belgian capital could be this week, given she has promised to come back to the Commons within two weeks.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is meeting MEPs this morning and will listen to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker give a speech in the afternoon.

Mrs May has promised to take her “mandate” to scrap the backstop to Brussels to get “legally-binding changes” to the divorce deal.

She admitted “there is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy”.

Both the Irish and French governments have stated their opposition to reworking the terms of the deal.

Sky News will broadcast a special live debate at 7pm tonight – Brexit Crisis: Deal or No Deal – from Sunderland, a city that voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU.

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