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Theresa May: 'A change of leadership isn't going to make negotiations any easier'

The UK Prime Minister said it was a ‘critical’ week for negotiations.

UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has said she would return to Brussels this week to continue negotiations over her country’s future relationship with the EU.

After a tumultuous week in which the draft divorce deal agreed between London and the European Union was slammed in parliament, May said the proposed deal would only be signed off if the future relationship deal was satisfactory.

May said the week ahead would be “critical” in the Brexit talks.

And while hardcore Brexiteers in May’s want her replaced, she said that as things stood, they did not have the numbers to trigger a no-confidence motion.

“I will be going back to Brussels,” May told Sophie Ridge on Sky News, adding that she would meet European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

“The focus this week will be on the future relationship.”

We won’t agree the leaving part… until we’ve got what we want in the future relationship, because these two go together.

Asked about the backstop proposals, which would keep the UK under the rules of the EU’s customs union in the event that no deal is reached during the Brexit transition period, May denied the UK would be trapped by it. 

If you took out an insurance policy and that insurance policy is being used, and suddenly the people providing that insurance policy pulled the plug on it for you and you were left without that insurance policy without having any say in it, what would you think?

“Actually, what we’re talking about is a backstop we don’t intend to use, the EU don’t want to use it either. It’s not the only option on the table, were it to have to be used, both sides can review it, in a process in which we can prove that other arrangements in place so the backstop can be stopped, and the backstop can only ever be temporary under the legal arrangements of the European Union,” May added. 

May’s position is being made more difficult by the internal pressures within her party.

She could face a no-confidence vote if at least 48 MPs submit letters saying she has lost their support. More than 20 have publically said they have done so.

Asked if the 48 figure had been reached, May said: “As far as I know, no it has not.

“We’re not going to be distracted.”

“A change of leadership at this point isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier and it’s not going to change the parliamentary arithmetic.”

She said replacing her would bring in uncertainty, and would risk delaying the talks and postponing Britain’s EU departure date, set for 29 March.

A special EU council summit is to take place next Saturday 25 November to discuss the draft deal.

Even if it is approved by EU leaders, the draft deal faces a bigger hurdle when it is put to the UK parliament.

Four ministers resigned this week saying they could not support the deal and the DUP has also said it would not support it. 

Also speaking on Sky News, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said that his party would be voting against the deal. 

Asked about whether he would support another referendum on Brexit, Corbyn said that it was “an option for the future but not an option for today”.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2018

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Rónán Duffy

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