Theresa May reveals her Brexit plan B after her deal was rejected by MPs

Theresa MayReuters

  • Theresa May has set out her alternative Brexit plan to the House of Commons.
  • The prime minister made a statement to MPs after her deal with the EU was overwhelmingly rejected in a Commons vote last week.
  • She will push ahead with a plan to once again demand concessions from the EU on the Northern Ireland backstop.
  • The motion faces multiple amendments from MPs designed to allow Parliament to take control of the Brexit process.

LONDON - Theresa May has revealed her alternative Brexit plan after MPs last week voted overwhelmingly to reject her deal with the EU.

The prime minister said she had listened to the concerns of MPs and would now seek to again gain concessions from the EU on the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.

"Members... continue to express concern on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop," May said, adding that she would now "consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House, and then take these conclusions of these discussions back to the EU."

The backstop is designed to keep the the UK tied to EU customs and trade rules and avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland if talks fail before the end of the Brexit transition period.

However, many Conservative MPs fear that it could lead the UK into being locked indefinitely into EU trade and customs rules.

The prime minister is reportedly seeking a so-called sunset-clause on the backstop after which it would cease to have any effect.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier rejected this on Monday however, telling RTE that the current deal agreed with the prime minister was "the best deal possible."

"It's now for the UK leaders to build this stable and political majority for a deal. We are waiting for the next steps, and are ready to work again on the political declaration," he said.

The prime minister said she would continue to meet with MPs to hear their concerns over Brexit and would be "more open" with parliament about the next stage of the process.

However, she used her statement to reject demands by oppositon MPs to extend the Article 50 process or hold a second referendum.

She set out her plan in a statement and motion to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

The plan, which has already been rejected multiple times by the EU and Ireland, would need to be backed in principle by the House of Commons in a vote at the end of this month, before being negotiated with the EU and then voted on again by the UK Parliament next month.

May wants the EU to give the UK legally-binding guarantees that the backstop would be a temporary measure. Pro-Brexit MPs want this to come in the form a fixed end-date.

However, MPs from across the House are poised to force May to think again, with multiple amendments planned to her motion, which are designed to take control of the process from the prime minister.

Among the amendments are plans to force the prime minister to extend the two-year Article 50 process that will take the UK out of the EU on March 29, and a push to hand control of the entire process to backbench MPs.

The amendments will be selected by the House of Commons speaker John Bercow and then put to a vote by MPs on January 29.

May has blamed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for the breakdown in the talks with opposition parties after he refused to meet with the prime minister until she rules out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit with the EU - the preferred option of some Conservative Brexiteers.

Demands by other opposition parties for a second referendum and Brexit to be delayed, were also rejected outright by the prime minister, sources in the opposition meetings told Business Insider.

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