SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK:Britain is due to leave the EU in 24 days, but parliament’s rejection of May’s deal in January has put in doubt how, when or possibly even if Britain’s biggest foreign and trade policy shift in more than 40 years will take place.
May has charged her team, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit minister Stephen Barclay, with securing changes to the so-called Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent a “hard border” between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland if a future trading relationship falls short.
Cox and Barclay were meeting the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and other officials from the bloc, followed by further discussions over dinner to press what the attorney general described as a “very constructive dialogue”.
Time is of the essence, with some businesses increasingly concerned over the risk of a disorderly Brexit, which BMW said on Tuesday could mean it would move some production of engines and its Mini model out of Britain.
Earlier, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said the government still wanted “to leave at the end of this month and it depends how quickly we can get a deal through”.
“Our ask of the EU is an important ask … but it is one ask and it’s a simple one. We need substantive changes that will allow the attorney general to change his advice to the government that says that, at the moment, theoretically, we could be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.”