Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

May Flies to Strasbourg in Last-Ditch Bid to Break Deadlock

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

May Flies to Strasbourg in Last-Ditch Bid to Break Deadlock

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political editor jon.walker@reachplc.com

THERESA May flew to Strasbourg last night for lastminute talks to save her Brexit deal, ahead of today's crucial vote in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister was meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in a lastditch bid to make progress in talks which Downing Street admitted were "deadlocked".

It comes amid predictions that Mrs May is heading for a second humiliating defeat on her Withdrawal Agreement - unless she can secure legally-binding changes to its controversial backstop.

Sources in London played down suggestions that Mrs May's departure for France was an indication that a deal is ready to be signed.

Time is running out for any new assurances or clarifications to the deal, which was resoundingly rejected by a 230-vote majority by MPs in January.

The Government is due to put it back to the Commons for a second "meaningful vote" today, possibly with changes that will make it more acceptable to MPs.

But if MPs reject it again then there is expected be a vote tomorrow to decide whether to leave the EU with no deal at all.

And if that is also defeated then a vote is due on Thursday to decide whether to delay Brexit.

With less than three weeks to go until Brexit is due to take place on March 29, MPs are at last expected to make some sort of decision.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the issue of the backstop - a mechanism to ensure there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Some MPs say they fear this could mean the UK remains in the EU's Customs Union indefinitely.

Brexit-supporting North East MPs urged colleagues not to rule out a "no-deal" Brexit.

Northumberland MP Ronnie Campbell, the Brexit-supporting Labour MP for Blyth Valley, criticised "scaremongering" about the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal. …

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