EU to REJECT 11th-hour changes to May‘s Brexit deal – ‘Britain KNOWS how we negotiate!‘

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Stephen Barclay will be told they must propose and finalise any Brexit compromises this week in order for the Prime Minister’s new-look deal to be ready for the ‘Meaningful Vote’. Brussels officials will resist any attempts by the Prime Minister to force through a compromise at the eleventh-hour amid concerns that Parliament will not support her latest strategy. Mr Cox and Mr Barclay will continue work on securing legally-binding assurances that the Irish backstop will not last “indefinitely” during another round of negotiations in Brussels tomorrow.

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The pair will meet Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, for crunch talks at the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters.

The Attorney General is hoping to secure wording that will allow him to change his previous legal advice that Britain could be trapped in a permanent customs union by the EU through the backstop, which is designed to prevent a hard border on Ireland.

According to Brussels sources, work on the assurances must be completed this week ahead of the next ‘Meaningful Vote’, which is expected to be held on March 12.

An EU diplomat familiar with the Brexit talks insisted Brussels would not allow a text to be presented for MPs to vote on unless pre-agreed by the bloc’s negotiating team.

Theresa May to be prevented from tabling eleventh-hour compromises as Brexiteers crackdown (Image: GETTY)

“There’s not much use introducing a text that wasn’t agreed by the EU in the first place,” the source said.

“Voting on a text that isn’t backed by the EU isn’t very meaningful.”

An official said: “This is joint work and we would need to agree jointly on something.

“They know how we negotiate after two years of talks. They know that they won’t be able to do this to us.”

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According to a note from a regional meeting of Conservative MPs, British politicians have been told that Mrs May is confident of securing a so-called “codicil in relation to the backstop and the issue will be whether the supersedes what is written in the withdrawal agreement”.

Mr Cox is “currently drafting legal advice on this,” the minutes add.

But the expected outcome from the Attorney General‘s negotiations with Brussels is likely to fall short of Brexiteer demands to scrap that backstop.

Steve Baker, a senior member of the European Research Group of eurosceptic Conservative MPs, said: “This seems to indicate a satirical approach to fulfilling the Brady amendment which the Government whipped for.

“The Brady amendment required that you replace the backstop with alternative arrangements. That‘s light years away from tweaking arbitration mechanisms.”

Mark Francois, the ERG‘s deputy chairman, said the Tory Brexiteers are not “softening” in their approach to the Prime Minister‘s deal.

He said: “You can’t be slightly pregnant. You either leave the European Union, which is what people voted for, or we don’t.

“And there’s no point voting for the withdrawal agreement as it is currently configured because it means we don’t leave the European Union.”

Last Friday EU27 ambassadors were told that Mrs May informed Donald Tusk, the European Council president, that Brexit might even have to be delayed in MPs support her deal on March 12, when the next ‘Meaningful Vote’ is expected to take place.

An EU diplomat said: “Taking a look on the necessary technical legislative procedures in the UK, it seems more and more inevitable to extend, even if the deal goes through on March 12.”

On the remarks, A UK spokesman said: “The Prime Minister does not want to extend Article 50 – she has never wished to do this.”

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