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Brexit Brief: Theresa May plays for time with pro-EU rebels

February 12
15:52 2019

The British Prime Minister Theresa May will plead with U.K. politicians to give her two more weeks to improve her Brexit deal.

May will address the U.K.’s House of Commons on Tuesday, a day earlier than originally planned, in an effort to head off politicians who might seek to seize control of Brexit at a parliamentary vote on Thursday.

The PM is expected to ask parliament not to stymie her efforts to win concessions from Brussels while talks are ongoing — “we now all need to hold our nerve,” she will say.

Pro-European politicians had been expected to use Thursday’s votes on a series of amendments to May’s preferred form of Brexit to force the government into delaying the process.

May hopes to convince rebels to defer any such plans until a February 27 parliamentary vote on the way forward.

The U.K’s Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, meanwhile, met with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the first time on Monday. Barclay is working to secure changes to the Irish backstop, a contentious insurance plan to avoid a hard border in Ireland that forms part of May’s preferred withdrawal agreement. Agreeing concessions here is crucial to persuading U.K. parliament to back a deal.

A spokeswoman said the meeting was “constructive”, adding that both Barclay and Barnier “agreed to further talks in the coming days and that their teams would continue to work in the meantime on finding a way forward”.

Sterling was trading at $ 1.2845 at 08:45 at GMT, down on Monday’s close of $ 1.2860.

Elsewhere, Germany’s second-largest listed lender Commerzbank is shifting its top London-based equity advisory banker to Paris, becoming the latest investment bank to get its Brexit relocation plans under way.

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