May will seek to re-open Brexit divorce deal
Updated 23:00, 29-Jan-2019
British Prime Minister Theresa May told her senior ministers on Tuesday that in order to win parliament's support for her Brexit deal, that agreement would have to be reopened, her spokesman said.
May asked the divided British parliament to send a message to Brussels that it would support her European Union (EU) withdrawal deal if a plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland is replaced.
"Today we have the chance to show the EU what it will take to get a deal through this House of Commons, what it will take to move beyond the confusion and division and uncertainty that now hangs over us," May told parliament before five hours of debate on possible ways forward.
"I also accept that this House does not want the deal I put before it, in the form that it currently exists. Today we need to send an emphatic message about what we do want," May added.
The EU has so far ruled out reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, which May said would be needed to provide legal changes to the so-called backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland.
"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.
"She said a vote of the Brady amendment makes it clear that the current nature of the backstop is the key reason that the House cannot support the deal," added the spokesman.
The House of Commons, which rejected May's deal by a huge margin earlier this month, will from 7:00 p.m. (GMT) Tuesday vote on a series of amendments designed to show the prime minister exactly what they want.
May's spokesman said she backed an amendment that called for the removal of a controversial "backstop" arrangement in her deal to keep open the border with Ireland after Brexit, in favor of "alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border." 
She told her cabinet that "to win the support of the House of Commons, legal changes to the backstop will be required," her spokesman said.
He was questioned about how this strategy might work, given how often the EU has said it will not reopen the Brexit agreement. "There is a very clear message from the EU's leaders that they want [Britain] to leave with a deal, and they understand this is in the best interests of the EU as well as the UK," he said.
Source(s): Reuters