Theresa May to hold last minute Brexit negotiations before EU leaders vote on withdrawal agreement

Theresa May is to return to Brussels for last-minute Brexit negotiations on Saturday as Britain and the European Union work against the clock to reach a deal.

The two sides had hoped that by Thursday they could resolve their remaining differences over the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc and the outline of their future trading links.

Their deal is to due to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of EU leaders on Sunday.

However, talks between Mrs May and the European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker failed to achieve a final breakthrough as differences over trade, fishing rights and trade threaten to derail the talks.


Mrs May said after their meeting: “We have made further progress and as a result, we have given sufficient direction to our negotiators.

“I hope for them to be able to resolve the remaining issues and that work will start immediately.

“I now plan to return for further meetings, including with President Juncker, on Saturday to discuss how we can bring to a conclusion this process and bring it to a conclusion in the interests for all our people.”

A European Commission spokesman said: “Very good progress was made in the meeting between President Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May. Work is continuing.”

Tory threats

Before flying to Brussels, Mrs May warned her mutinous MPs to support her plans or face the prospect of “no Brexit at all”.

Her message came as Tory opposition grows to her Brexit agreement with Brussels, and the DUP refuses to back government legislation in protest over her proposals.

Up to 80 Conservative MPs are thought to be planning to oppose the blueprint in the Commons next month – enough to inflict a crushing defeat on Mrs May.

During a heated session of Prime Minister’s Questions, MPs of all parties queued up to condemn the draft deal.

Asked by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn if there were any circumstances in which Britain could leave without a deal, Mrs May replied: “If you look at the alternative . . . it will either be more uncertainty, more division, or it could risk no Brexit all.”

No deal minority

A similar message was spelt out by the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, who said there was no Commons majority for a no-deal Brexit.

She said she expected MPs to back Mrs May’s plan after peering into the “abyss”, but added: “If it doesn’t get through, anything could happen. The Brexiteers may lose their Brexit.”

Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “If my colleagues in Parliament don’t vote for this then we’re in grave danger of not leaving at all.”

Mr Corbyn told the Commons that the deal was a “failure”. He said: “Instead of giving confidence to the millions of people who voted both Leave and Remain, this half-baked deal fails to give any hope that it can bring the country together again.”


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