U.K. Says More Work Needed on Changes to Backstop: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- With the March 12 deadline looming to put the Brexit deal to another vote in Parliament, Theresa May pledged a 1.6 billion-pound ($2.1 billion) boost for poorer areas of the U.K. Her office said negotiations with Brussels were ongoing over changes to the so-called Irish backstop.

Key Developments:

  • Prime minister’s spokesman says Brexit talks at a critical stage
  • U.K. official says chances of Parliament vote on Brexit deal this week are negligible
  • Attorney General Cox, Brexit Secretary Barclay to travel to Brussels on Tuesday
  • Labour says government has pulled Financial Services Bill from Parliament business on Monday

ERG Lawyers Set Out Demands For Cox Visit (6:50 p.m.)

The "Cash Council," a Group of lawyers assembled by The European Research of Tory MPs to assess whatever concessions Attorney General Geoffrey Cox manages to win in Brussels, laid down their benchmark after their inaugural meeting on Monday.

“We look forward to seeing in due course what the Attorney has agreed, so that we may assess whether it meets the requirements of the Brady amendment, which commanded a majority in the House of Commons and calls for significant, legally-binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement,” MP and council member Michael Tomlinson said in a statement.

“The Council has asked to be given all of the relevant documents in good time to consider them properly, in order to form a judgment in advance of a vote,” he added. “Our primary objective is a proper analysis.”

Govt: Financial Services Bill Will Be Ready (4:35 p.m.)

The U.K. government will ensure the Financial Services Bill, which was pulled from a vote in the House of Commons on Monday, will be in ready in time for Britain’s departure from the European Union, Theresa May’s spokesman James Slack told reporters in London.

“We want to give the beneficial ownership amendments proper consideration, we’ll therefore reschedule the bill to ensure there’s sufficient time for proper debate,” Slack said. “In terms of the statute book, we’ve said all along that we’ll ensure it’s ready for exit day.”

“This is explicitly a no-deal only bill and we’ll make sure our statute book is ready,” Slack said.

Government Pulls Vote on Financial Services Bill (12:45 p.m.)

The opposition Labour Party’s junior finance spokesman, Jonathan Reynolds, said the government has canceled a vote planned for Monday in Parliament on its Financial Services Bill -- a key piece of primary legislation regarded as essential in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The debate, which appeared on Parliament’s morning ‘Order Paper’ and was due to run as late as 10 p.m., no longer appears on the schedule on the House of Commons website. The Treasury was unable to immediately comment.

“There were amendments on preventing a ‘race to the bottom’ on financial deregulation and on transparency for the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies that we had hoped to pass,” Reynolds said on Twitter.

One amendment due to be voted on called on Britain’s crown dependencies to enforce tougher transparency rules by the end of 2020.

Cox to Brussels Tuesday for Backstop Talks (12:10 p.m.)

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay travel to Brussels on Tuesday for further Brexit talks, with more work needed on securing changes to the so-called backstop provision for the post-Brexit Irish border, May’s spokesman said.

U.K. Says More Work Needed on Changes to Backstop: Brexit Update

The government is still focused on leaving the European Union on March 29 and “we will work as hard as we possibly can to do that,” James Slack told reporters in London on Monday. The prime minister wants Parliament to vote on her Brexit deal by March 12, he said, and the government knows that politicians will need time to scrutinize changes.

The pro-Brexit European Research Group caucus of Conservative politicians has demanded two days to analyze the result of Cox’s negotiations, meaning time is getting tight for the attorney general to bring back new text from Brussels. Reflecting that, a U.K. official told reporters the chances of bringing the vote in Parliament forward to this week were negligible.

Hancock: Ireland Drug Supply at Risk in No-Deal (Earlier)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a no-deal Brexit could lead to drug shortages in the Republic of Ireland and on mainland Europe, as negotiations continue with the European Union over securing a withdrawal agreement acceptable to the British parliament.

“There are more drugs that flow from us to them: you would have thought that nobody on the other side would have wanted to have a blockage,” Hancock told an LBC radio phone-in show Monday, referring to continental Europe. He was answering a question about drug shortages if ports face delays in processing goods should Britain leave the EU without a deal at the end of the month.


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