May can secure a Brexit deal with EU, says Treasury minister
Updated 20:05, 10-Feb-2019
CGTN

Prime Minister Theresa May can reach a deal with the European Union (EU) to alter parts of the Brexit agreement relating to the Northern Irish border, Treasury Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday.

“I believe Theresa May can get that deal,” Truss said. She also rejected the idea of a UK-EU customs union – something the main opposition Labour Party supports and that the EU has said it is interested in pursuing, but May staunchly opposes.

May to promise more Brexit debates

A government source said May will later this week pledge to give parliament another chance to voice their opinions on Brexit by February 27, as she tries to buy more time to negotiate a new deal with the European Union.

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Brexit or bust: May's remaining options

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As the clock ticks down to Britain's scheduled exit on March 29, May is trying to persuade the EU to change a deal that was agreed between London and Brussels late last year but overwhelmingly rejected by parliament in January.

The prime minister held a "robust" meeting with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on February 7 with the agreement to hold more talks to try to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

May also held talks with EU President Donald Tusk. But he warned there was "no breakthrough in sight," although the British leader said she had seen a willingness from Brussels to find a deal.

May has been desperately trying to salvage the withdrawal agreement she spent months negotiating with Brussels after it was rejected by the British parliament last month. She has been working with her MPs to find a way through, but an EU official said that in Thursday's meeting with Tusk, she "did not offer any new concrete proposals."

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) walks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) walks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Talk has been growing that even if MPs finally back the deal, Britain may have to delay Brexit to get the necessary legislation through parliament.

But May vowed: "I'm going to deliver Brexit, I'm going to deliver it on time." 

'Emergency zone'

Labour's Brexit policy chief Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times newspaper that his party would seek to use the debate in parliament this week to prevent May from waiting until the last minute to come back with a deal, and compel her to present a fresh accord for lawmakers to consider before February 26.

"We shouldn't be put in a position where the clock is run down and the prime minister says it's either my deal or even worse. That isn't right in terms of the respect for parliament," said Starmer.

The head of the business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry warned that the chances of Britain leaving the EU next month without a deal have increased and the country has now entered "the emergency zone."

May's opponents are expected to put forward a series of alternative approaches which will be voted upon, although it is not clear yet whether any will have sufficient support to pass, and if they do, whether they will force the government to act.

An opinion poll published in the Independent newspaper on Sunday showed 53 percent of British voters would support a delay in Brexit, while 33 percent would back a no-deal Brexit even if it harmed the economy.

(With input from Reuters)