Published: Sat, February 23, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

May to meet Tusk, but no Brexit ‘deal in the desert’

May to meet Tusk, but no Brexit ‘deal in the desert’

The British government said Thursday that Brexit talks with the European Union will focus on winning new guarantees to reassure eurosceptic MPs, rather than on demanding the divorce deal be re-opened.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the ministers said: 'It is time that many of our Conservative party colleagues in the ERG recognise that Parliament will stop a disastrous no-deal Brexit on March 29.

European Union diplomats say there has been some movement towards a possible deal with London but stressed that much work remained to be done and were not expecting any imminent breakthrough.

May is trying to get changes to the divorce package before putting it to another vote in parliament.

The trio - who serve as work and pensions secretary, justice secretary and business secretary - said there will not be enough time, should the deal be voted down again, to complete necessary legislation.

Britain's Brexit ministry said after talks in Brussels on Thursday that negotiations were now focused on getting new guarantees on the temporary nature of the Irish backstop.

Brexit secretary Steve Barclay and attorney general Geoffrey Cox had separate talks with Mr Barnier.

However, that parliamentary arithmetic remains precarious with a number of factions unhappy with the government's Brexit strategy.

"But May won't get any firm wording before February 28".

Downing Street said "productive" talks in Brussels aimed at addressing the MPs' concerns were continuing "urgently".

In Westminster, politics was dominated by eight Labour MPs and three Tory ones quitting their parties to form a pro-Europe bloc called The Independent Group (TIG).

A joint statement released yesterday by Mr Juncker and Mrs May said that talks had been "constructive" but offered little detail about any concrete progress. "If they do that, we hone out exact words in the second week of March and it goes to the summit for approval".

May is set to travel to an EU-Arab League summit in Sharm el Sheikh at Egypt on Sunday to hold further talks with EU leaders, where she will continue her efforts to win key assurances over the controversial "backstop" clause in an attempt to make the withdrawal agreement more acceptable to all sides of the House of Commons.

"If there is no breakthrough in the coming week, the balance of opinion in Parliament is clear - that it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29", they said.

He did not exclude granting Britain more negotiating time, but said it was now up to the British "to take their responsibilities and assume the consequences of decisions they took democratically".

"But I am not very optimistic when it comes to this issue".

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