Back to Brussels for UK’s Theresa May to reopen Brexit talks

World Today

A police officer talks to a pro-remain supporter opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. Britain’s Parliament is set to vote on competing Brexit plans, with Prime Minister Theresa May desperately seeking a mandate from lawmakers to help secure concessions from the European Union. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is heading back to Brussels in a bid to reopen Brexit talks with the European Union.

Her move followed a night in which Members of Parliament voted to make radical changes to the Withdrawal Agreement May spent two years negotiating with the EU.

It includes changes to the Northern Ireland ‘Backstop,’ a device in the Brexit deal designed to ensure there’ll be no hard border between North and South.

CGTN’s Richard Bestic reports from the U.K. Parliament in London.

In the shadow of Parliament, all sides waited for word on the government’s Brexit plans.

Inside, the Prime Minister insisted Members of Parliament must tell Brussels what it would take to get agreement in the U.K.

“What it’ll take to move beyond the confusion and division and uncertainty that now hangs over us,” May said.

And what the Prime Minister said could take a fresh look, is the Northern Ireland backstop; insurance against a return to a hard border between the British ruled North and the independent south.

Unspecified ‘alternative arrangements.’

“What I’m talking about is not a further exchange of letters, but a significant and legally binding change to the Withdrawal Agreement,” May said.

And therein lies a dilemma for May, because at an EU summit in Cyprus reports suggested little appetite for re-opening talks that took more than two years to agree and, particularly, on the emotive issue of the British border in Ireland.

“As the European Council has clearly indicated, this exit agreement which negotiated between the European Union and the UK is the best deal possible, and is not renegotiable,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

On the streets outside Parliament, there was broad agreement.

Theresa May’s Brexit battles are fast turning into a Parliamentary war of attrition as she promises to return time and again to this place and whittle down resistance.

Of course, the entire campaign is now dependent on getting the European Union to reopen those Brexit withdrawal talks and that’s far from a done deal.