May to appeal for more time to secure backstop changes

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The EU and the Irish Government have insisted that the backstop is the best way of guaranteeing there will be no hard border in Ireland.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said Parliament would get to pass judgment on May's Brexit plan "no later than February 27".

The opposition accuses May of wanting to force MPs to make an all-or-nothing vote between her deal and a chaotic Brexit shortly before Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29.

"We shouldn't be put in a position where the clock is run down and the prime minister says it's either my deal or even worse", Labour's Brexit pointman Keir Starmer told The Sunday Times.

A customs union is one of the demands made for any deal to get Labour support.

But in an effort to see off attempts to bind the Government's hands, Downing Street is promising another opportunity to table amendments - which are likely to include measures aimed at taking a no-deal Brexit off the table - on February 27.

The prime minister wrote a conciliatory letter to opposition Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, after he proposed setting her a new deadline of February 26 for winning lawmakers' backing for a final exit deal.

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On Wednesday, Mrs May will ask MPs for more time to get legally-binding changes to the controversial Northern Irish backstop, which she believes will be enough to secure a majority in Parliament for her deal.

"I think that gives that sense of timetable, clarity and objective on what we are doing with the European Union - taking that work forward and our determination to get a deal - but equally knowing that role that Parliament very firmly has".

May wrote Sunday to opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, with whom she has talked since her agreement was emphatically defeated in the House of Commons last month.

"We intend to give Parliament a bigger say in the mandate for the next phase of the negotiations to address concerns that".

There are also few signs of concessions coming May's way from Brussels in the coming days.

May has been seeking changes to the deal with Brussels since it was rejected by a record majority in parliament on January 15.

MPs voted to replace the controversial backstop with "alternative arrangements" in a vote on amendments to the PM's Brexit deal last month. The prime minister is now in talks with Brussels to seek these changes to the backstop. "It would be economically very, very unsafe for Britain and for the peace process in Northern Ireland, it would potentially be devastating", Blair claimed. A no-deal Brexit means a really hard border between north and south in Ireland, it's contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and it will cause an enormous fissure within the United Kingdom'.

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