Brexit is happening, with or without a deal

Muriel Colon
February 3, 2019

The Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade said it was disappointed that the Commons had voted for alternative arrangements to the backstop, which was negotiated to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

The Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and Britain remains the best and only deal possible and will not be renegotiated, said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, at the European Parliament's plenary session debate on Wednesday.

"The prime minister said that in order to win the support of the House of Commons legal changes to the backstop will be required, that would mean reopening the Withdrawal Agreement", he told reporters.

"Yesterday, we found out what the United Kingdom doesn't want, but we still don't know what the United Kingdom does want", Tusk tweeted after the 45-minute call, which an official with knowledge of it described as "open and frank".

The Commons narrowly rejected an amendment to May's deal tabled by Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles - centrist Labour and Conservative MPs respectively - which would have allowed lawmakers to vote on asking the European Union to extend Article 50 and thus delay Britain's exit from the bloc.

Elsewhere, MPs could still seek to influence events by proposing amendments to a series of government bills that must pass parliament before Brexit day.

Mr Kingston said a hard Brexit would impact a "whole range of sectors and individual businesses right across Northern Ireland".

Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas said the British government "must now say quickly what it wants, because time is running out".

Anti-Brexit MPs were deflated this week after the House of Commons rejected amendments to potentially delay Brexit and consider alternatives to Theresa May's deal.

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng said Brussels will not get a "penny pinch" of the £39billion divorce bill unless it moves on the backstop.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "Brady sets out a commitment to avoid a hard border and gives scope for a new discussion with the European Union about how best to achieve that".

In a speech to members of her party in Kesh, County Fermanagh today, Mrs Foster warned the European Union are "tough negotiators" but they must now take a "pragmatic approach" to avoid no deal. The EU27, as a bloc and as individual states, are unwilling to reopen negotiation, especially around the backstop.

Coveney said, however, that he welcomed the fact that MPs had voted in favour of an amendment that commits the government to avoiding a no-deal Brexit.

There was growing anxiety among pro-People's Vote Labour MPs this week that their leader Jeremy Corbyn is close to throwing his support behind a revised version of May's deal with the EU.

"Providing we can do that, which I think we can, then I think there is a way through".

"Clearly, there has to be investment in those communities, but the Brexit plan proposed by Theresa May doesn't solve that any more than the Government's austerity programme is going to solve any of that".

Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, ruled out further negotiation and insisted yesterday that there were no plans for an...

"This government in Dublin is not going to allow it", he said, noting that any Brexit-related economic concerns were trumped by concerns about maintaining peace on the island of Ireland.

The prime minister has put off a new Commons vote on her deal after deciding to push for legal changes to the controversial Northern Ireland "backstop", which is created to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit.

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