Jeremy Hunt hits back at Tory critics over Brexit extension plans

Oct 23, 2018, 00:57
Jeremy Hunt hits back at Tory critics over Brexit extension plans

According to the newspaper, Merkel and President Macron have urged the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier to guarantee that Europe will not impose a customs border in the Irish sea in order to give May room to sell the deal back home.

Arriving for the second day on Thursday, May noted that both sides remained at odds over a "backstop" plan to avoid frontier checks between Britain and Ireland if and until a new trade deal to resolve the issue can be signed. But each has rejected the other side's solution.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Friday, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said that Tory MPs must rally behind their leader, adding: "Theresa May has not buckled, she has stood firm".

Theresa May leaves Brussels with no significant progress in Brexit talks.

At present, the two sides say Britain will remain inside the EU's vast single market, and subject to the bloc's regulations, from the day it leaves until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.

To try to move the talks forward, May had earlier signalled she would consider extending a so-called transition period "for a matter of months" after Britain leaves the European Union in March, a move her critics called a betrayal but one which the bloc welcomed.

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"A further idea that has emerged, and it is an idea at this stage, is to create an option to extend the implementation period for a matter of months, and it would only be a matter months", May told reporters. But even an extension would not get rid of the EU's insistence that such a backstop must be agreed to secure a deal.

The Brexit Secretary said the extension - which would see Britain tied to Brussels beyond December 2020 - would only be an alternative to the EU's insurance policy.

One prominent Brexit supporter, Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg, told Reuters that any extension to the transition was "a bad and expensive idea".

However, a European parliament official said there had been progress made towards setting a date for the meeting.

The Northern Ireland backstop must stand in the interim and the European Union must protect the single market.

Foster said, "Great Britain is our largest market by far and we can not have barriers". "All very well, but this doesn't do anything to actually change the backstop". Diplomats say they hope talks could re-start in earnest when, and if, the budget gets passed in early November.

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Donald Tusk, in a sign of willingness of the European Union to help May, said that Brussels would consider any requests made by the United Kingdom for an extension of the 21-month transition period.

"I'm clear that it is possible to do that (deal) and that is what we are working for".

Stubb, who is vying to be the next European Commission president, predicts there will "definitely" be a Brexit deal in place by March.

But the Northern Irish question still has to be overcome.

Barnier said avoiding such a "hard border" is a "condition for peace and stability for this island following many tragedies" and that the issue has the potential for the talks to end in failure.

Former Tory leader and arch Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith attacked the Prime Minister's proposals warning the move would cost "tens of billions of pounds" in payments to the EU.

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But both London and Brussels have pledged to avoid any physical infrastructure, or "hard border", anxious that it could upset the delicate peace process that ended decades of violence between Protestant supporters of British rule over the province, and Irish Catholics nationalists, who believe in a united Ireland.

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