Charles Hymas, Home Affairs Editor 7 January 2019 • 9:43am
Confirming the vote on Theresa May’s deal will be held next Tuesday, Kwasi Kwarteng said a 2021 time limit on the backstop for Northern Ireland was “being looked at.”
He said PM was in "listening mode" as she prepared for meetings today and on Wednesday with more than 200 MPs who are pressing for her to rule out a no deal Brexit.
“She wants to get more legal and political assurances about things like the Northern Ireland backstop. She is clearly in listening mode,” he told the BBC's Radio Four Today programme.
However, he criticised the "wild words" of some over a 'no deal' Brexit.
He said the way to assuage the uncertainties was to vote for May's deal and ensure UK left the EU in an orderly way.
"We have got a week. I think the situation - as it always does - has developed, it evolves. I am very hopeful that the deal will be voted through next week."
Nigel Dodds, Westminster leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, yesterday underlined the scale of her task in getting MPs to accept the backstop provisions. He described them as “poison”.
Yesterday Mrs May warned the country would be in “uncharted territory” if MPs voted down the deal, as appears highly likely. Her allies rejected suggestions that she could again delay the vote scheduled for January 15
Some 209 MPs from across the Commons have now signed the letter to the Prime Minister urging her to rule out a no-deal Brexit. It was organised by Tory former Cabinet minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour's Jack Dromey.
A separate move to block a no deal will also come tomorrow in an amendment to the Finance Bill tabled by former Cabinet ministers Nicky Morgan and Oliver Letwin, Hilary Benn, Yvette Cooper and Harriet Harman.
It would make government spending on no-deal measures illegal without Parliament’s explicit consent.
Ms Morgan said: “We have all got different views on the draft withdrawal agreement but on this we are united that having a no deal outcome to Brexit would be deeply damaging.”
Lorries have started to arrive at Manston Airport near Ramsgate in Kent to begin the Government's first major test of its plans for UK border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Known as Operation Brock and designed to test out the disused airfield as a mass holding bay to ease congestion, the HGVs are expected to follow a route in convoy from to Dover via the A256.