Brexit deal defeat ‘inevitable’ without concessions on backstop, says Dodds

UK prime minister Theresa May has been warned she faces another crushing House of Commons defeat for her Brexit deal unless she can secure an eleventh-hour change to the Northern Ireland backstop.

Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group, and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said without concessions from Brussels, defeat in the Commons on Tuesday is “inevitable”.

The warning comes amid reports that Cabinet ministers have told Mrs May the only way she will get her deal through UK parliament is if she agrees to stand down by June.

Discussions were continuing in Brussels between officials over the weekend with little sign of a breakthrough.

It follows an acrimonious Twitter exchange between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay, with Mr Barclay accusing the EU of attempting to “rerun old arguments”.

Mrs May had been pinning her hopes on securing legally binding changes to the backstop to convince MPs that the UK cannot be tied indefinitely to EU rules against its wishes.

An RAF plane is reported to be on standby to fly her to Brussels to clinch a deal if an agreement is in sight.

But with time running out, the chances of that happening appeared to be receding.

Mr Barnier is meanwhile in Dublin on Sunday to attend the Ireland-France Six Nations rugby match with his sons on what has been described as a private visit.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is likely to meet him socially at the match, a Government spokesman said.


In a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Baker and Mr Dodds described the situation as “grim” and warned that after January’s 230-vote defeat in the first “meaningful vote”, Mrs May appeared set for another heavy reverse.

“An unchanged Withdrawal Agreement will be defeated firmly by a sizeable proportion of Conservatives and the DUP if it is again presented to the Commons,” they wrote.


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