Theresa May to ask MPs for more time on Brexit talks

UK and EU flags

Downing Street has denied ruling out a no-deal Brexit as Theresa May tries to shut down a rebellion on the motion meant to buy her another two weeks to seek concessions in Brussels. She also ruled out requesting the European Union to extend the March 29 deadline, although she acknowledged there was little time left to ratify an agreement.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party accused her of running down the clock with sham negotiations to pressure Parliament into backing her deal.

Robbins suggested the strategy would be to tell the Commons in the final week of March that if an amended version of the government's deal wasn't passed, talks would have to be extended, potentially for a long time, ITV reported Tuesday. "We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time".

The opposition was having none of this.

The report has the potential to rip a hole in the British prime minister's delicate attempt to piece together enough political support for her deal to pass in a key vote in Parliament.

UK Parliament rejected May's Brexit deal with the European Union but voted to renegotiate it over concerns of an agreement on the so-called Irish backstop, a provision to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Barclay on Monday evening had been expected to argue for unspecified "alternative arrangements", a time limit to the backstop, or a unilateral exit clause from the backstop, which keeps the United Kingdom aligned with the EU's customs union. The EU and Ireland have insisted the backstop must remain in order to uphold the provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended decades of sectarian violence and eliminated border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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"Given both sides agree we do not ever want to use the backstop, and that if we did it would be temporary, we believe it is reasonable to ask for legally binding changes to this effect", May said.

Mrs May sought to appease restive MPs on both sides by promising them "a bigger say" in the negotiations for a longer-term deal with the European Union, which will be thrashed out in the coming 18-plus months after Brexit day.

May also hinted that a provision in the UK's Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, which dictates that global treaties must sit for 21 days of parliamentary sittings before they can be ratified, would be waived to give her government more time to broker an acceptable deal with the EU.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May "is playing for time and playing with people's jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry". "The meaningful vote will come back just as soon as it possibly can", the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, told BBC radio.

The group, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, have said they are ready to table an amendment enabling Parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place, preventing the country falling into a no-deal Brexit "by accident".

"It is a negotiation".

The Brexit uncertainty is beginning to be felt across the economy. Figures released Monday showed that Britain's economy slowed past year to its joint-slowest annual rate since 2009, with business investment declining for four straight quarters.

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