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May prepares to ask business to back her deal: Brexit Update

Nov 19 2018 12:41
Andrew Atkinson, Ian Wishart and Alex Morales, Bloomberg

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to speak to business leaders Monday as she fights off opposition to her Brexit deal.

Key developments

The Sun says 42 lawmakers have sent letters calling for a leadership challenge EU ministers meet in Brussels to discuss deal EU says any extension of transition period should end in 2022. The UK position isn’t clear yet.

Davis says calls for no-confidence vote in May are building

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis says he has not submitted a letter calling for a no-confidence vote in May, but he believes the number of Tory MPs who have is now over 40 - close to the 48 needed to trigger a vote.

Longer transition period may be a good idea (08:57)

Business Secretary Greg Clark said he’s open to extending the transition period by as long as two years – until December 2022 – if that’s what’s needed to complete a deal on the future relationship and avoid companies having to make two sets of changes to trading rules."It would be at our request and that would be a maximum period," Clark told BBC Radio’s Today programme on Monday.

"There is value in having an option, rather than going in for a temporary period into the backstop and having a second change, to have the option if we want it, if the UK wants it, to extend the transition period."

Clark said the withdrawal deal isn’t likely to change in "any substantial sense" now, but that there’s scope for change in the overall package: "There was always the intention that a future partnership would be fleshed out in some more detail," he said.

Former EU president says no room on Brexit deal (08:29)

"There is almost no room for renegotiation of the deal," Herman Van Rompuy tells Today show. "The deal is as it is. I would not say take it or leave it, but it is close to that reality. On the main parameters there will be no room for manoeuvre."

Van Rompuy says extending the post-Brexit transition period would provide the "leeway needed" to reach a free-trade agreement. "In decades to come no one will ask if we negotiated one year longer than forecast."

The ball is now in Britain’s court, he said.

May gets reminder of threat of leadership challenge

Meanwhile, earlier on the same programme, there was a reminder for May about the peril she faces from pro-Brexit lawmakers in her own Conservative Party who hate her withdrawal agreement and are trying to oust her by forcing a no-confidence vote.

Forty-eight need to write letters in order to trigger a vote, and so far more than 20 have publicly declared that they’ve done so – though The Sun says the real number is 42.

One of those who’ve gone public, Simon Clarke, was on BBC Radio this morning urging colleagues to join the revolt."Colleagues who have said that they will act now need to search their consciences and follow up on what they’ve pledged to do," Clarke said.

"This day must be the point at which action is taken because we now have the deal on the table. It’s gone from theory to reality, and our worst fears have been realised."

Lib Dems optimistic Britain will get second referendum

The Liberal Democrats, who have long pushed for a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership, are increasingly optimistic they may get one. Party Leader Vince Cable put the chances at 50:50 in a BBC radio interview. He noted that May has in recent days, on several occasions, said that no Brexit at all is a possible consequence of lawmakers rejecting the deal she has secured."

She now recognises that this is something that has progressed from the possible to the probable," he said. There are signs of public support too: A Populus poll for Best for Britain (which wants a second referendum) found on Sunday that if undecided voters are discounted, 59% of Britons are in favour of a second referendum.

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theresa may  |  brexit deal  |  brexit


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