Theresa May prepares for fresh talks with EU leaders

Theresa May prepares for fresh talks with EU leaders

London, Feb 16 (IANS) British Prime Minister Theresa May is to return to Brussels within days to meet European Union (EU) officials in a bid to rescue her Brexit deal.

Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, said in a radio interview on Friday that May will go to Brussels in the coming days to continue negotiations, but no timetable was stated.

Referring to the Thursday night vote, when MPs were asked to re-endorse May’s Brexit deal, Leadsom said the defeat in the vote was more of a hiccup than a disaster, Xinhua news agency reported.

May’s proposed cross-channel excursion follows a humiliating defeat Thursday fuelled by a rebellion by 60 of her own Conservative MPs who voted against endorsing the EU deal she has already agreed.

May’s hope is that EU negotiators will present her with enough wriggle-room over the Northern Ireland border issue to win backing from lawmakers in a looming showdown.

Political commentators and some leading politicians are describing the expected showdown in the House of Commons on February 27 as a “high noon” for May, just four weeks before Britain’s planned departure from the bloc.

Former attorney-general Dominic Grieve said in the Times newspaper that a dozen or more government ministers could quit during the so-called high noon round of Brexit votes on February 27.

The resignations are being threatened if it appears likely that Britain faces crashing out of the EU without a deal, say observers.

In media interviews, Grieve said that if May failed to remove the threat of no deal, there could be resignations on a scale that might bring down the government.

May will present the latest version of her deal to MPs on February 27, but political experts say she is likely to face a number of amendments, including demanding a delay in Britain’s departure date, a guarantee that a no-deal Brexit will be ruled out, or calls for a second referendum or “people’s vote” on her deal.

Until now, the EU has insisted that there can be no changes to the so-called backstop, a measure designed to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of no deal being agreed.

Ambassadors from EU member states met the Brexit Secretary in London Friday to brief them on Britain’s latest position.

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