May tells MPs: insistence on Irish backstop is unacceptable
Theresa May told MPs on Monday that she “cannot agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom” in an hour and 40 minute-long speech to the Commons in which she rejected the EU’s new proposal for a “backstop to the backstop”.
May told MPs that she had proposed the whole of the UK would remain in a ‘customs solution’ however the EU had said there was not enough time to put this plan in place, putting May in perhaps her most difficult negotiating position thus far.
“The EU still requires a ‘backstop to the backstop’ – effectively an insurance policy for the insurance policy. And they want this to be the Northern Ireland-only solution that they had previously proposed,” the prime minister told the Commons on Monday.
“We have been clear that we cannot agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom. And I am sure the whole house shares the government’s view on this.”
May’s announcement comes a day after Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, headed for Brussels on Sunday, for a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, which many believed would move talks forward. Instead, not long after the meeting, news broke that no further progress had been made, with EU leaders being told that key issues were still unresolved.
Corbyn: May’s speech a “nothing-has-changed moment”
Jeremy Corbyn responded to Theresa May’s Brexit speech to the Commons on Monday with severe criticism, calling the PM’s address a “nothing-has-changed moment from this shambles of a government”, after May revealed that progress had all but stalled as a result of disagreements over the Irish backstop.
“Almost two and a half years after the referendum, eighteen months since the triggering of article 50, less than six months to go, and what have we got to show for it?” he told the Commons on Monday.
“Yesterday we saw another Brexit minister shuttling over to Brussels, to come back tail between his legs, unable to deliver because of divisions in the Conservative party.”
Universal credit rollout delayed again
The rollout of the government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme will be delayed once again, with ministers bowing to pressure as leaked documents reveal the latest government plans.
The documents show proposals to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in an attempt to minimise the damage done to claimants as a result of moving onto the new scheme, including continuing existing allowance payments for two weeks after a claim for Universal Credit has been made.
The government’s flagship welfare reform has thus far seen claimants waiting for up to five weeks to get their first payment, with the most vulnerable households believed to be up to £200 a month worse off under the new system. Earlier this month, the work and pensions secretary Esther McVey broke from the party line to admit that “some people will be worse off” under Universal Credit.
Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said on Monday that women in his constituency, Birkhead, had turned to prostitution for the first time in order to support themselves as a result of losing money under Universal Credit.
Field told the Commons: “I wrote to the secretary of state about how the rollout of universal credit in Birkenhead is not going as well as we’re told in the House of Commons, with some women taking to the red light district for the first time.”
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