Brexit briefing for Cabinet as May to present ‘bold’ plan

Picture: Gerard McCarthy

The Government will today discuss the collapse in cross-party Brexit talks in London as well as fresh fears of Britain crashing out of the EU without agreement.

As Tánaiste Simon Coveney briefs ministers in Dublin at the weekly Cabinet meeting, British Prime Minister Theresa May is also set to brief her own government on a “bold” new Brexit initiative.

This is being flagged as a new series of planned ‘indicative’ votes on Brexit and new proposals on an exit deal in Westminster, as well as future customs proposals with the EU and the North.

Mr Coveney will update the Cabinet on preparations in the public and private sectors for a potential disorderly Brexit. This will include an analysis of the Brexit impasse, following a breakdown in talks between Ms May’s Conservative party and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last week.

It has also been confirmed that Mr Corbyn will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for talks on Brexit in Dublin in the next fortnight. Ms May’s ministers will discuss whether to offer MPs a menu of Brexit options in a bid to break the deadlock.

The legislation for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill is due in the House of Commons in the week beginning June 3, but still faces stiff opposition and, with little progress since the Brexit deadline was extended to October 31, Brussels also has no plans to intervene.

“It’s clear that we are in a situation where London talks to London, so there is nothing that we can do at this stage,” said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, again stressed that an “orderly withdrawal remains the best basis of trust for the future” and Brussels is “ready to be more ambitious in the Political Declaration” setting out the future UK-EU relationship.

Ms May’s “bold offer” today is expected to include provisions on future trade arrangements with the EU, on environmental protections, and on the North, including the use of technology to avoid the need for a border in Ireland. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin last night warned events in the UK could harden positions.

“Unfortunately, with the politics of the UK, unfortunately the results there [on Brexit talks] could lead to a hardening of positions on the Tories’ side, which would really worry me on the prospect of a no deal re-emerging.

“Now, you’re getting into a difficult political stage, where it looks as though the Brexit Party will do well there in their election, so it depends on how the Tories respond to that.”

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