Britain still hopeful of weekend Brexit breakthrough, says Hunt
Britain’s government is still hopeful it can secure a Brexit breakthrough with the European Union this weekend ahead of a key parliamentary vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal next week, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday, Trend reports referring to Reuters.
With only 22 days before Britain is due to leave the EU, May has yet to get her deal passed by Britain’s deeply divided parliament, raising doubts and further uncertainty over Brexit, the country’s biggest shift in policy in more than 40 years.
May is struggling to convince the EU to agree to changes to the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent a hard border between the UK province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland if a future trading relationship falls short.
Talks this week led by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox failed to secure EU agreement, with officials in Brussels criticising the British side’s proposals and telling May’s top lawyer to rework them and come back on Friday.
One UK government source said with the EU showing no sign of moving in the talks, there was little hope anything could change over the next 48 hours, raising doubts over whether May can win support for her deal in next Tuesday’s big vote.
But Hunt said there was complete clarity on both sides as to what it will take to get an agreement through parliament and that he was hopeful for progress.
“Now there are very exhaustive discussions on both sides to try and find a way to achieve (a solution),” he told reporters after giving a speech in Scotland on cyber attacks.
“Both sides want to find a way through this and we’re hoping for that success to happen this weekend in time for the vote.”
A weekend breakthrough would give just enough time for May to bring her deal back to parliament before Tuesday’s so-called meaningful vote, when she hopes to reverse a crushing defeat lawmakers dealt her in January.
Time is of the essence, with many businesses increasingly concerned over the risk of a disorderly Brexit which they say could wreck the world’s fifth-largest economy. Real estate agent Countrywide cited Brexit uncertainty for its forecast for flat full-year earnings.