Theresa May updated the House of Commons earlier today on the Brexit negotiations, saying there has been a great deal of “inaccurate speculation” following yesterday’s reported breakdown in talks.
May gave the House a rundown of “facts”:
“First, we have made real progress in recent weeks on both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship. And I want to pay tribute to both negotiating teams for the many, many hours of hard work that have got us to this point.
“In March, we agreed legal text around the implementation period, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement. And we have now made good progress on text concerning the majority of the outstanding issues.
“Taken together, the shape of a deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement – the terms of our exit – are now clear. We also have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the framework for our future relationship, with progress on issues like security, transport and services.
“And perhaps, most significantly, we have made progress on Northern Ireland – where, Mr Speaker, the EU have been working with us to respond to the very real concerns we had on their original proposals.”
May went on to talk about the importance of preserving the Good Friday Agreement, agreeing that the “future economic partnership should provide for solutions to the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland in the long term”.
The Prime Minister said that the EU have responded positively by “agreeing to explore a UK-wide customs solution”.
However, May did concede there were problems that remain in negotiating Brexit. According to the PM, the EU are saying that time is running out to work out the detail of the UK-wide solution, with Brussels wanting a “backstop to the backstop”, essentially an insurance policy.
The EU also supposedly want the solution to be Northern Ireland-only, rather than UK-wide. But May has fought back saying “we have been clear that we cannot agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom”.
At the end of her address, May spoke about how the UK and the EU are not far apart, and that she believes that “a negotiated deal is the best outcome for the UK and for the European Union”.