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May ‘fighting day and night’ to secure deal

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Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. Supplied

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – Theresa May is “fighting day and night” to secure a Brexit agreement, aiming to make progress on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop that is recognised as a concern on both sides, Brexit minister Stephen Barclay said yesterday.

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“Both sides see the backstop as temporary,” he said. “There is a recognition on both sides that the backstop is a concern.”

“There is movement but the question is how do we ensure that movement is sufficient for colleagues.”

Barclay said yesterday Ms May was working to secure legal and political assurances over the so-called Irish backstop in her Brexit deal.

Ms May, who saw off a challenge to her leadership on Wednesday, pulled a planned vote in parliament earlier this week on the deal after lawmakers threatened to vote it down due to their concerns over the backstop.

Ms May, who was due to meet European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, would seek “legal and political assurance on that point,” Mr Barclay told BBC Radio.

“We need to see some movement. The prime minister, through the mandate she secured from the parliamentary party last night, now has the time to have those discussions with European colleagues.”

However, the German-British Chambers of Commerce told the SWR broadcaster yesterday the uncertainty resulting from the delayed British parliamentary vote on Brexit is damaging in economic terms.

“It’s poison for the economy, it’s poison for future investment,” Ulrich Hoppe, the managing director of the group said.

He added that a no-deal Brexit would result in British ports and airports being “totally clogged” and many companies with global value chains would face disruption and delivery backlogs.

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