Wednesday 16 October 2019

EU beginning to realise May 'can get a majority in parliament on Brexit deal' - Hunt

Jeremy Hunt wants more reassurance on the backstop. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jeremy Hunt wants more reassurance on the backstop. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the EU is beginning to realise that PM Theresa May "can get a majority in parliament".

Speaking on the BBC this morning, Mr Hunt said the signals from the EU at present "are reasonably positive".

He spoke as Britain's negotiating team today meet with EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in an attempt to reach a breakthrough before the Brexit deadline in 24 days. 

Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay are holding fresh talks in Brussels in a last ditch plan to clinch a compromise Brexit deal.

'Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox currently has a key role to play.' Photo: Reuters
'Britain's Attorney General Geoffrey Cox currently has a key role to play.' Photo: Reuters

Downing Street has said negotiations are at a "critical stage" as Theresa May presses for concessions from the EU that will persuade MPs to back her Brexit deal in next week's expected crunch Commons vote.

Conservative Brexiteers are demanding guarantees the UK cannot be tied indefinitely to EU rules through the backstop, intended to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland in the absence of a future free trade agreement.

Mr Hunt said today the "crucial thing" is that the UK cannot be trapped in the EU customs union.

He also said there could be a role for an arbitration mechanism for the UK to exit the Irish backstop.

Michel Barnier: The European Union’s lead Brexit negotiator Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
Michel Barnier: The European Union’s lead Brexit negotiator Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

However, French president Emmanuel Macron signalled he would firmly resist any measure that might diminish the security and integrity of the EU's external border and internal market.

He also accused Brexiteers of lying about the consequences of leaving the EU and suggested Britain would end up being part of a reformed Europe in the future.

Theresa May
Theresa May

Last night Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held late night meeting with Government ministers in Farmleigh to discuss the Government's Brexit strategy. Mr Varadkar has said that the talks between the UK and the EU on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement are entering a sensitive phase.

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