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Jan 7, 2019

Theresa May seeking 2021 time limit to Brexit backstop ahead of meaningful vote, minister suggests

Charles Hymas, Home Affairs Editor 7 January 2019 • 9:43am



The government is pushing for a 2021 deadline for the final Brexit agreement in a bid to end the parliamentary deadlock, the Brexit minister indicated today.
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.
Backing former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s criticism of 'no deal' hysteria in his Daily Telegraph column today, Mr Kwarteng said: "He is right in one respect in that there's a lot of frantic debate, there are some wild words about all sorts of eventualities."
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.
Asked whether the Government was heading for defeat, he said: "I don't accept that at all. A week is a very long time in politics. We don't know what the numbers are.
"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."
The prime minister is due to update parliament on Wednesday. Despite intense diplomacy over Christmas, however, she has little new to offer sceptics.
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.
Bernard Jenkin, constitutional affairs committee chairman, attacked their "lame" arguments that were effectively trying to reverse Brexit.
"Given that Parliament voted overwhelmingly, in the end, to have the referendum, Parliament voted overwhelmingly, in the end, to accept the result of the referendum, and Parliament has now legislated to implement the referendum, I find it rather lame that people are now saying 'Oh, we didn't mean that'," he said.
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.

Source: Telegraph

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