More Brexit bluster from U.K. PM Theresa May: Market analyst
Theresa May asked the House of Commons to give her more time to renegotiate her Brexit deal with the European Union. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned of the risks of a no-deal Brexit.
Key Developments:May is updating Parliament on her Brexit negotiations with the EU Prime minister says government still aiming to leave EU on March 29, but dodges questions on extending Brexit Article 50 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Brexit could be an “acid test” for global trade, and a deal is “in the interests of everyone” Chancellor Philip Hammond cancels Beijing trip amid Brexit impasse
May Leaves Wiggle Room on Backstop Changes (1:40 p.m.)
May suggested she’s open minded about how the changes to the backstop are made in order to guarantee that it’s only temporary. The key point is that whatever additional text the EU agrees to must have the same legal force as the Withdrawal Agreement itself, she said.
So far, all Britain has been offered is a commitment in the form of an explanatory letter from the EU. That’s not good enough, May said. The “obvious way” to deal with the issue is to rewrite the Withdrawal Agreement, she added, implying that there are other ways too.
May: There’s Time to Get Brexit Laws Passed (1.35 p.m.)
Asked by anti-Brexit Conservative MP Dominic Grieve whether there’s time to pass all the relevant legislation, May replied -- in effect -- that she’ll rush it through. Parliament has spent a lot of time debating Brexit and the divorce agreement, she said.
SNP’s Blackford Calls May a ‘Liar’ (1:30 p.m.)
Earlier in the session, there was uproar in the House of Commons when Scottish National Party leader Ian Blackford accused Prime Minister Theresa May of being a “liar.”
The outburst followed his question about the government’s analysis of the economic impact of her Brexit deal. When May started to say one had been published, Blackford first shouted “that’s not true” before upgrading his insult.
Tory members of Parliament erupted in anger, and Speaker John Bercow demanded an apology under the arcane rules of debate in Parliament which say it is forbidden “to accuse another member of this House of dishonesty.”
Blackford begrudgingly withdrew his comment “as a courtesy” to the Speaker, without apologizing to May.
May Won’t Say If She’ll Back No-Deal (1:20 p.m.)
The prime minister has been asked repeatedly to rule out a no-deal Brexit, and to commit to extending Article 50 in the event she can’t get an agreement through Parliament -- but has avoided giving a direct answer each time. But she also won’t say if she’d back no-deal in those circumstances.
“What I want, what the government wants is a deal with the European Union,” she said. “If you don’t want no-deal, you have to agree a deal."
Altmaier: No-Deal Brexit Can Be Avoided (1:10 p.m.)
Peter Altmaier, Germany’s economy minister, said he’s still optimistic that a no-deal Brexit can be avoided. That scenario “would be harmful in many aspects, politically and also economically,” he told Bloomberg TV.
Brexit, he said, is “something we respect. But respecting it does not mean that we don’t regret it.”
Corbyn: May’s Offer of Talks a ‘Pretense’ (1:05 p.m.)
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “playing chicken with people’s livelihoods” by running down the clock to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.
“She’s playing for time and playing with people’s jobs, our economic security and the future of our industries,” Corbyn told the House of Commons. “The prime minister is merely engaged in the pretense of working across Parliament to find solutions.”
He urged ministers reported to be close to resigning to block a no-deal divorce to act. “To stand by and do nothing would be a complete dereliction of duty.”
Corbyn warned that Nissan’s decision to hold back its investment in Britain will be “thin end of a very long wedge” and harked back to Tory opposition to employment rights in the 1990s to dismiss May’s promise of enhanced workers rights after Brexit.
May: Aim to Leave EU on March 29 (12:50 p.m.)
May confirmed that she still needs “some time to complete that process” of negotiating a better deal on the backstop but insisted she’s still aiming to exit the EU on March 29.
The only way to stop a no-deal Brexit is to reach a deal that Parliament can support, May added. She confirmed that if she hasn’t got a deal by Feb. 26, the Commons will have a chance to vote on plan B options the following day.
“Every time somebody votes against a deal, the risk of no-deal increases,” May told the Commons.
May Says Making ‘Reasonable’ Demands of EU (12:40 p.m.)
May told the House of Commons the U.K.’s demand for a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement are “reasonable” given that neither side wants to enter into the Irish backstop in the first place. She said she’s taken Parliament’s “unequivocal” message to her EU counterparts that it needs “legally binding” changes to show the provision is temporary.
The premier said she continues to explore the so-called Malthouse proposal -- a proposal by pro-EU and pro-Brexit wings of her party to find a technological solution to the Irish border, and that the other two possible changes would be to add an exit clause or an end date to the backstop.
“We need some time to complete that process,” May said.
May rejected Labour’s suggestion that the U.K. should enter into a customs union with the EU after Brexit, pointing out that the House of Commons has already voted against the option.
“Membership of the customs union would be a less desirable outcome than that which is provided in the political declaration” of the deal already reached, May said. That deal “would provide for an independent trade policy for the U.K. that would allow us to strike our own trade deals around the world.”
Hammond Cancels Beijing Trip to Deal With Brexit (12:35 p.m.)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond canceled a planned trip to China next week to deal with the Brexit situation at home, a Treasury spokeswoman said. He was due to visit his counterparts in Beijing on Feb. 18 to discuss a series of issues affecting China-U.K. economic and financial relations.
Hammond had been expected to discuss plans for a stock market connection between the two countries and wanted to fix a date for the postponed U.K.-China Economic and Financial Dialogue.
May: EU Talks Need ‘A Little More Time’ (11:45 a.m.)
The premier updated Cabinet on the talks she’s had with EU leaders ahead of her address to the Commons later, according to a statement released by her Downing Street office.
“She said it is clear that these discussions with the EU will need a little more time to conclude,” the statement said. The government won’t be putting May’s deal to a decisive vote in Parliament this week but will go ahead with votes on potential Plan B options as expected on Thursday.
May confirmed her promise to give Parliament another chance to vote on what happens next by Feb. 27, if no deal has been agreed -- and endorsed in the Commons -- before then.
May: ‘We Now All Need to Hold Our Nerve’ (8:45 a.m.)
“The talks are at a crucial stage,” Prime Minister Theresa May will say in her statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday, according to excerpts released by her office. “We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House has required and deliver Brexit on time.”
“By getting the changes we need to the backstop; by protecting and enhancing workers’ rights and environmental protections; and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations, I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support.”
Leadsom: May to Tell MPs to ‘Hold Their Nerve’ (8:30 a.m.)
Prime Minister Theresa May will tell politicians to “hold their nerve” on Brexit and allow her time to negotiate with the European Union, Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom said when asked about the premier’s statement to Parliament on Tuesday. The premier has begun a process to try to renegotiate the so-called Irish backstop -- the most contentious part of the divorce deal -- and needs a “bit more time” to do so, Leadsom said.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Leadsom said the EU’s repeated refusal to reopen the withdrawal agreement was likely part of a negotiating tactic, and a compromise would serve the interests of both sides.
“This is a negotiation and it would be an extraordinary outcome if the thing that the backstop is seeking to avoid -- which is a hard border in Northern Ireland -- if the EU were so determined to be so intransigent about it that they actually incur the very thing that they’re seeking to avoid,” Leadsom said.
The government is flexible about how changes are made to the backstop, Leadsom said. She declined to say when the government planned to bring a vote on the revised deal before Parliament, despite growing speculation it may not be until after an EU Council meeting in March.
Politicians from across Parliament should look to support May’s agreement to avert a no-deal Brexit, she said.