Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Business | By Eloise Houston

Johnson calls for time limit on Brexit backstop

Johnson calls for time limit on Brexit backstop

LEADING Brexiteers have condemned Jeremy Corbyn's proposals for a permanent customs union as a "dangerous delusion" that could leave Britain a colony of the EU.

The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, signed the UK-Switzerland agreement in Bern today (Monday 11th February) with Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin. Supporters accuse Mrs May of trying to run down the clock until Brexit day so she can effectively say to MPs that it is her deal or no deal.

The government announced on Sunday that parliament might not be given the chance to vote on its Brexit deal until March.

In her response in the letter, the Prime Minister said she wanted the Tory and Labour teams to consider "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop.

Mrs Leadsom said there was "no chance" Mrs May would adopt Mr Corbyn's "view of the world", adding: 'The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear we're leaving the EU, we're leaving the customs union, we're leaving the single market'.

In their letter to Mrs May, the group describing themselves as "patriotic, pragmatic Conservatives" said it the United Kingdom is "not ready to leave" on the scheduled date of 29 March.

The move comes after Mrs May responded to Mr Corbyn's letter last week setting out Labour's terms for backing a deal, with an offer of further talks.

He said Mrs May's agreement would achieve most of Mr Corbyn's goals without preventing independent trade deals.

"We would have to be able to get out by a certain time and we would have to be able to get out of our own volition".

"By getting the changes we need to the backstop; by protecting and enhancing workers" rights and environmental protections; and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support'.

She said: "I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future European Union trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals?"

Ministers have conceded in private meetings with business leaders that they will not be able to replace all of the deals before the Brexit deadline on 29 March, meaning a large proportion of United Kingdom exports could shift to World Trade Organization rules.

Those countries aren't EU members, but belong to the much-smaller European Economic Area-European Free Trade Agreement (EEA EFTA) group.

Mrs May said securing frictionless trade for goods was "one of our key negotiating objectives".

"I don't think that would be good enough", he said.

Elsewhere Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay was said to have held "constructive" talks on Monday night with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.

May will ask lawmakers on Thursday to reaffirm that they support her bid to renegotiate the backstop, a government source said.

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