Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

The border between N. Ireland and Ireland

The border between N. Ireland and Ireland

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due in Brussels on Thursday with what she says is a parliamentary mandate to re-open the withdrawal agreement, sealed after 18 months of intense and highly technical negotiations. Deadlock in the British parliament over Brexit has focused largely on a proposed arrangement to keep open the border with Ireland by aligning Britain with some European Union trade rules.

Mr Juncker rejected giving the United Kingdom a way to unilaterally pull out of the backstop.

Prime Minister Theresa May was gathering pro-Brexit and pro-EU Conservative lawmakers into an "alternative arrangements working group" seeking to break Britain's Brexit deadlock. Arlene Foster, whose Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) props up Mrs May's minority Conservative Government, said ahead of the prime minister's speech that the backstop has to be replaced, calling it "toxic".

"There are definitely options for preserving the integrity of the single market even when Northern Ireland isn't part of it because it is part of Britain while at the same time meeting the desire to have, if possible, no border controls", Merkel said.

"We are now 51 days from the Brexit deadline and the British prime minister has come here empty handed with the same old rhetoric with no plan, no credibility and frankly no honour", said Sinn Féin's leader, Mary Lou McDonald.

Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc on March 29, but no withdrawal agreement has been approved because Britain's Parliament has voted down May's plan.

Mr Juncker also signalled a refusal to re-write the Withdrawal Agreement yesterday, insisting "alternative arrangements" could "never replace the backstop".

Mrs May's spokesman insisted: "She is absolutely determined to deliver Brexit on time". Northern Ireland also voted narrowly in favor of remaining in the European Union in 2016's referendum.

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May now needs the support of both eurosceptic and pro-remain Tory rebels as well as the backing of lawmakers from the Northern Irish DUP party, which props up her minority government, if she wants her Brexit deal to get through the House of Commons, the lower chamber of Parliament.

Speaking in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, May promised to seek a solution that keeps the Irish border open and preserves the peace agreement that ended years of sectarian violence in the British province. "It must be how, together, we move forwards to shape the opportunities of the future".

Yet, if the United Kingdom can not agree such a future trade deal, the backstop would be imposed as a position of last resort, unless or until other arrangements are agreed by all sides to ensure there is no hard border.

She told a meeting of businessmen and women in Belfast that there were "a number of ways" to amend the amend the backstop, which the Biritsh parliament has demanded before agreeing a divorce deal with Europe.

He said Britain's political instability was another proof of why the backstop was needed.

"The EU is first and foremost a peace project", he said.

May's government has been searching for a way to overcome lawmakers' opposition to the backstop, by adding a time limit or an exit clause - both of which have been rejected by the European Union - or a finding a way to replace border infrastructure with unspecified and untested technology.

The statement continued: "The UK's museums sector is already in a fragile financial position after a decade of austerity and could struggle with the substantial financial losses that could arise from loss of earned income, philanthropy and public funding in the event of a No Deal Brexit".

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