Brus­sels last-ditch mis­sion to save deal

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Harry Cole DEPUTY PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

BRUS­SELS’ most se­nior Euro­crats are set to pub­lish two let­ters to­mor­row in a last-ditch ef­fort to help Theresa May get her Brexit deal through the Com­mons.

The Mail on Sun­day un­der­stands EU Com­mis­sion pres­i­dent Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Coun­cil pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk will each send a sep­a­rate let­ter de­signed to re­as­sure MPs over the con­tro­ver­sial ‘back­stop’ mea­sure that could see the UK locked to EU rules in­def­i­nitely.

But the cor­re­spon­dence is likely to fall far short of the de­mands of Tory Brexit rebels who want the Prime Min­is­ter to re­open talks with the EU to rip out the fall­back from the terms of her with­drawal agree­ment.

Brus­sels sources say that Mr Juncker’s let­ter will vow to ‘ex­pe­dite’ trade talks be­tween the EU and the UK to try to avoid the ‘back­stop’ ever be­ing trig­gered.

He will set out a process for a new trade deal to be done as quickly as pos­si­ble but is un­likely to in­clude a date for talks to start.

Mean­while, Mr Tusk will re­it­er­ate the 27 other EU coun­tries have a ‘firm de­ter­mi­na­tion’ to have a new re­la­tion­ship with Bri­tain in place by the end of 2020 to avoid the mea­sure kick­ing in.

He will add that if the deal is not ready by that point, all Euro­pean states will work to have it signed by 2021 at the lat­est, mean­ing the UK would only have to shadow EU trade and cus­toms rules for an ad­di­tional year.

Last night Down­ing Street in­sid­ers said they ex­pected the let­ters to be pub­lished on Mon­day evening for max­i­mum im­pact ahead of Tues­day’s Com­mons show­down.

Even with a trickle of Tory MPs climb­ing down from their op­po­si­tion to Mrs May’s deal, she is on course for an de­feat of his­toric pro­por­tions. Af­ter three full days of de­bate, Mrs May’s al­lies are braced for a thump­ing de­feat, with ef­forts fo­cused on keep­ing the tally to ‘un­der three fig­ures’.

Mrs May will likely ad­dress MPs and the pub­lic late on Tues­day evening or early on Wed­nes­day, with Min­is­ters ex­pect­ing her to an­nounce yet an­other trip to Brus­sels to try to squeeze more con­ces­sions from the EU.

Of­fi­cials in Brus­sels, Dublin and Lon­don are all said to be ‘acutely aware’ that the back­stop is the last ma­jor stick­ing point to a deal be­ing done, with the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment ex­pected to come un­der in­creased pres­sure to soften their ob­jec­tions to the mea­sure be­ing wa­tered down.

But last night Brus­sels sources said in re­sponse to the likely de­feat, at­ten­tion would in­stead be­gin by fo­cus­ing on a rewrit­ing of the non­le­gally bind­ing po­lit­i­cal dec­la­ra­tion that sets out EU and UK hopes for fu­ture trade ar­range­ments rather than re­open­ing the with­drawal agree­ment treaty on the terms of di­vorce.

LET­TERS: Juncker with EU ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.