GRIMSBY: United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday urged the European Union (EU) to make “one more push” to get the Brexit deal over the line in time for Britain’s exit from the bloc in three weeks.
The beleaguered leader’s request for an additional concession from Brussels comes with Britain on the brink of crashing out of the European Union after 46 years with very few arrangements in place.
The British parliament is set to vote Tuesday on May’s existing deal with Brussels after rejecting it by a historic margin in January.
But last-gasp negotiations between UK and EU envoys ended in acrimony on Wednesday and May still lacks the assurances she has been after to get her deal approved by MPs.
May told an audience of factory workers in the North Sea fishing port of Grimsby that Britain may never split off from the other 27 nations if Brussels failed to help her now.
The deal “needs just one more push to address the final, specific concerns of our parliament,” May said. “Because if MPs reject the deal, nothing is certain. It would be at a moment of crisis.”
The deal is stuck on the so-called “backstop” solution that London and Brussels devised to keep the Irish border open with the UK’s Northern Ireland – a province with a past history of sectarian violence.
Some lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party fear that the arrangement will keep Britain trapped long-term in a customs union with the EU.
May wants a written guarantee from Brussels that this will not be the case. EU officials say the backstop must stay in place until a new trade deal is signed – no matter how long that takes.
EU ambassadors met in Brussels on Friday to discuss how they might proceed ahead of next week’s crucial events in London, with the March 29 deadline looming large.