Published: Wed, March 06, 2019
Business | By Pearl Harrison

Theresa May accused of 'bribing' Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal

Theresa May accused of 'bribing' Labour MPs to back her Brexit deal

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay and attorney-general Geoffrey Cox held talks in Brussels yesterday in a renewed effort to secure changes to the Northern Ireland backstop ahead of next week's vote.

British lawmakers oppose the backstop because it requires Britain to apply some European Union rules in Northern Ireland indefinitely, unless another plan for keeping the border open can be agreed in future. "We need substantive changes that will allow the attorney general to change his advice to the government that says that, at the moment, theoretically, we could be trapped in the backstop indefinitely".

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Attorney General continues to pursue legally binding changes to the backstop that are necessary to ensure it can not be indefinite".

The prime minister's spokesman dismissed accusations of a "Brexit bung" on Monday and said the money was "absolutely not" dependent on votes.

Theresa May accused of "bribing" Labour MPs after announcing £1.6 billion fund targeting Leave-voting constituencies in a bid to secure support for her Brexit deal.

Mrs May could find herself relying on the votes of Labour MPs from Leave-voting parts of the country, who are in favour of Brexit but want guarantees from the PM that workers' rights will not fall behind the European Union after Britain's departure.

"Communities across the country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change, that must be a change for the better, with more opportunity and greater control, " she said.

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the proposal "smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation".

The Independent Group's Brexit spokeswoman Anna Soubry said the move was a "desperate measure to buy votes".

Voters will not be deceived, especially those in areas where they voted for the Brexit, but who want a second referendum now because they know that any withdrawal will affect their future, Soubry noted.

The government insisted that the fund would target places that had not shared fairly in the country's prosperity and would be used to create new jobs and boost economic activity.

An additional 600 million pounds will be open for communities on a national basis on a bidding basis, the government said. They have also set up their own team of lawyers to scrutinise anything that Cox brings back from Brussels.

The group wants a legally binding, treaty level arrangement, the language must not just simply reiterate the temporary nature of the backstop, and there "needs to be a clear and unconditional route out" of the arrangement.

European Union leaders insist the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened, and talks in Brussels are focused on drafting a separate document to placate doubters in London.

Asked whether they were still the UK's demands, Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the crucial issue was avoiding an indefinite backstop and "how we get there is something we are prepared to be flexible about".

Like this: