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Winning UK Parliament vote on Irish backstop sent 'clear message' to EU: May

Winning UK Parliament vote on Irish backstop sent 'clear message' to EU: May
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More drama from the House of Commons in Prime Minister's Questions.


UK MPs voted on Tuesday night in favour of amendments to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, calling for a no-deal Brexit to be ruled out, and for the Irish backstop to be replaced by "alternative arrangements".

Watch: What have EU leaders previously said about changing the backstop?

Want to avoid a no deal Brexit? Then vote for a deal

After a question from Labour's Jack Dromey during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), May said that the only way to avoid a no deal Brexit was by voting for a deal.

She added that last night's vote sent a "very clear message" to the EU that a deal could be reached in the House of Commons.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn asked May what "alternative arrangements" she would seek to replace the controversial Irish backstop in her Brexit deal — wording found in an amendment passed by MPs on Tuesday evening.

Parliament backed a call to urge May to return to Brussels and secure a new deal without the controversial "backstop" designed to ensure a hard border could never appear in Northern Ireland by obliging the region to continue to follow EU rules if no other solution can be found.

May replied she was meeting and considering suggestions from several lawmakers, including one who suggested a "unilateral exit mechanism".

Corbyn then asked May which of her "red lines" she would change, to which the prime minister said she had already responded to that question and reiterated that a majority of MPs in the House of Commons voted for a change to the backstop and that that's what she would renegotiate with the EU.

May added that Corbyn should think about voting for a deal. In the past, the opposition leader has said that he would reject any deal proposed by the government but the prime minister warned this attitude risked resulting in a no-deal scenario.

Corbyn said that he would discuss a solution to unite the country with May because changing the backstop was not enough.

May responded by saying the House voted to renegotiate the backstop agreement and reminded the opposition leader that MPs had rejected the amendment to the Brexit plan that he tabled on Tuesday evening.

"He (Corbyn) has no plan for Brexit, no plan for the economy, and no plan for the country," she concluded.

May agreed with Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown when he asked whether Corbyn would abandon his plan to keep the UK in the customs union.

She answered that the UK should be able to strike free trade deals after Brexit because those deals would help poorer countries too.

May also said she was "pleased" Corbyn had agreed to meet her after he was notably absent in discussions surrounding a Brexit Plan B last week.


UK and Ireland clash over backstop agreement

After the MPs voted on Tuesday, Ireland said it would not allow any renegotiation of the backstop.

The Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) said the UK's approach was: "Either you give me what I want or I'm jumping out the window."

Following these statements, Nigel Dodds from the DUP asked May whether she agreed with Ireland or not.

May said that she would be speaking with the Irish prime minister later on Wednesday but that both sides remained committed to the Good Friday agreement.


Responding to a question from Ian Blackford MP, May reiterated the commitment of her government to the Good Friday Agreement — a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s.

It came after Blackford had a heated exchange following Tuesday night's vote during which he claimed the government had "ripped up the Good Friday Agreement".

_You can watch the full PMQs session here: _

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