With divorce deal almost done, May repeats rejection of EU proposal on Northern Ireland


Prime Minister Theresa May will tell parliament on Monday that 95 percent of Britain’s divorce deal has now been settled but will repeat her opposition to the European Union’s proposal for the land border with Northern Ireland, Reuters reports.

Facing some of the fiercest criticism to date over her Brexit plans after the two sides failed again to reach agreement at a summit last week, May will try to calm passions in parliament where her strategy has angered eurosceptics and EU supporters alike.

With just over five months until Britain leaves the EU, talks have stalled over a disagreement on the so-called Northern Irish backstop, an insurance policy to ensure there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland if a future trading relationship is not agreed in time.

But May’s attempt to unlock the talks by considering an extension to a status-quo transition period beyond the current proposed end date of December 2021 has further stirred passions at home.

In an attempt to highlight how much progress has been made in more than a year of talks with the EU, she will tell parliament the government has reached agreement on everything from Gibraltar to future security over the last three weeks.

“Taking all of this together, 95 per cent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,” she will say, according to excerpts from her statement to parliament.

“The shape of the deal across the vast majority of the Withdrawal Agreement is now clear.”

But the withdrawal agreement, or the terms of Britain’s divorce, cannot be signed off until the two sides agree on the Northern Irish backstop.