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Jeremy Hunt insists a 'version' of May's deal can get through parliament if EU make assurances

May had postponed the House of Commons vote on her deal after forecasts predicted it had no chance of being approved.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE HOUSE OF COMMONS could back a “version” of Theresa May’s Brexit deal if MPs could get assurance from the European Union, according to British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

Hunt told BBC Radio 4 “the thing that the House of Commons won’t accept is any risk of us being permanently trapped through the Northern Ireland backstop in the customs union” but that the only way to get it through is to have a version of the deal that the UK government has negotiated.  

May had postponed the House of Commons vote on her deal after forecasts predicted it had no chance of being approved: some MPs expressed concern at the idea of the UK remaining in a customs deal with the EU indefinitely, and without having any unilateral power to withdraw from the backstop if the next round of talks fail.

She had thought that if the EU were to give additional assurances, that the deal might pass through the House of Commons; but she failed to gain any additional promises to time-limit the backstop or to give the UK more power to leave it in the future.

Hunt told the BBC that he believes a parliamentary majority for any form of Brexit is possible “with those guarantees that we need on the backstop”.

Out of 585 pages, of a very very dense agreement, this is just one outstanding issue. If we can crack this we can get the deal through. 

Following Friday’s summit in Brussels, May says that Britain and the EU will hold more talks in the coming days, denying reports that bloc leaders refused her plea for reassurances on her Brexit plan. 

With May having promised to have something to offer MPs before they finally vote on the Brexit deal by 21 January, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said she would have to come up with proposals in the next few weeks if she wanted Europe’s support.

However, he said he would publish further plans on Wednesday to protect European businesses and citizens in case the deal fails, and Britain exits on 29 March with no new arrangements place.

With reporting from © AFP 2018 

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