British minister face heat over Brexit ‘no deal’ stance

Brexiteers are unhappy with motion because they say it implies support for ruling out a no-deal Brexit

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Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay insists "no-deal's is still a possibility. PHOTO/COURTESY

BBC

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has come under fire for refusing to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

MPs will vote later on whether they still support the government’s approach that they backed in a vote last month.

Brexiteers are unhappy with the motion because they say it implies support for ruling out a no-deal Brexit.

But Remainers were annoyed when Mr Barclay confirmed that the government has not taken no-deal off the table when the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.

MPs will be asked to back a government motion which says the House of Commons “reiterates its support for the approach to leaving the EU to leaving the EU expressed by this House on 29 January 2019”.

But that has angered some Tory Brexiteers as MPs backed two motions on 29 January – one seeking an alternative to the controversial “backstop” element of the withdrawal deal and another one backing for a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal.

Downing Street has urged them not to rebel over what it describes as an “anodyne” motion.

It has warned it could damage the prime minister’s negotiating position, as she seeks to make changes to the controversial backstop “insurance policy” in the deal to avoid customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

During Thursday’s debate, former Brexit secretary David Davis urged Mr Barclay to be “clear” about whether or not there is a deal, the UK would still be leaving the EU on 29 March.

The Brexit Secretary confirmed that it would but was challenged by Lib Dem MP Tom Brake about why he was respecting one Commons vote, but not the other.

Mr Barclay replied that the Commons “has said two different things” and had also passed legislation to say the UK would leave the EU on 29 March, “by a large margin” adding: “The legislation frankly takes precedence over that motion.”

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