UK minister Brokenshire says colleagues must rally behind PM May on Brexit


LONDON (Reuters) – British housing minister James Brokenshire called on his government colleagues to rally behind Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan before a meeting of her top ministerial team on Tuesday to discuss her proposals for a deal.

Britain’s Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire speaks to media outside Stormont House in Belfast, Northern Ireland November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Peter Morrisson

On Monday, May urged the European Union not to allow a disagreement over how to ensure there was no return of a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland derail talks which stalled at the weekend.

“The message is we need to support the prime minister in making further progress this week … and therefore move to that position of getting that positive outcome for our country,” Brokenshire told BBC radio.

“Whilst making sure that it is our entire United Kingdom that leaves the European Union, the single market and the customs union because it is our UK that is just so important.”

May said on Monday she believed a Brexit agreement was still achievable although European Council President Donald Tusk warned that the chances of a no-deal divorce had increased. May is to address her 27 EU peers on Brexit at a summit in Brussels on Wednesday.

The British prime minister is battling to not only satisfy EU demands, but also keep on board eurosceptics in her Conservative Party who have been vocal critics of her plan, and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on whose support she relies on in parliament.

The BBC reported that eight senior ministers had met on Monday evening to discuss the issue and had expressed concern that any ‘backstop plan’ to avoid a hard border after Britain leaves the bloc next March should be time-limited. The EU has refused to set an end date.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Kate Holton

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