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BBC: Theresa May warns rebels as Brexit talks set to resume

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Theresa May warns rebels as Brexit talks set to resume

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EU flag outside ParliamentImage copyright PA

Theresa May has warned she will not "tolerate" any attempt to block Brexit, after setting out the specific hour the UK will leave the EU.

She said that "11pm GMT on 29 March 2019" is "there in black and white" in an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The bill will be scrutinised by MPs next week - but the PM warned against attempts to stop it or slow it down.

Mrs May was writing in the Daily Telegraph as a fresh round of Brexit negotiations are due to begin later.

Elsewhere, the author of the Article 50 withdrawal process will say in a speech thsat Brexit could still be reversed and that there is a danger the electorate is being misled.

Cross-bench peer Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, the formal procedure for leaving the EU, will give a speech in London later in which he will say: "We can change our minds at any stage of the process."

"We are not required to withdraw just because Mrs May sent her letter [to Brussels].

"Actually, the country still has a free choice about whether to proceed. As new facts emerge, people are entitled to take a different view. And there's nothing in Article 50 to stop them."

Image copyright EPA

Writing in the Telegraph, Mrs May said the decision to put the date - and time - of Brexit "on the front page" of the Brexit bill showed the government was determined to see the process through.

"Let no-one doubt our determination or question our resolve, Brexit is happening," the prime minister wrote.

"It will be there in black and white on the front page of this historic piece of legislation: the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU on March 29, 2019 at 11pm GMT."

The draft legislation has already passed its second reading, and now faces several attempts to amend it at the next part of its parliamentary journey - the committee stage.

Mrs May said most people wanted politicians to "come together" to negotiate a good Brexit deal, adding that MPs "on all sides" should help to scrutinising the bill.

She said the government would listen to MPs if they had ideas for improving the bill, but warned against attempts to halt the process.

"We will not tolerate attempts from any quarter to use the process of amendments to this Bill as a mechanism to try to block the democratic wishes of the British people by attempting to slow down or stop our departure from the European Union."

MPs have previously been told there have been 300 amendments and 54 new clauses proposed.

Image copyright Getty Images

The PM said the "historic" bill was "fundamental to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit" and would give "the greatest possible clarity and certainty for all businesses and families across the country".

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the government had attempted to remove "any confusion or concern about what 'exit day' means".

However, the bill is facing stiff resistance from some Conservative rebels and from opposition parties, who have described it as a "power grab" by the government.

Border questions

It comes as the Daily Telegraph also reported that a leaked European commission document is warning that Northern Ireland may have to abide by the EU's rules on the customs union and single market after Brexit.

The document is reported to be an update on talks about the Irish border given by the European Commission to diplomats from the remaining 27 member states in Brussels this week.

It suggests that to avoid the introduction of border checks, Northern Ireland would have to stick to the rules of the EU's single market and customs union after Brexit.

Both Britain and the EU say they are committed to ensuring that Brexit does not undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement or lead to the emergence of hard-border.

However, BBC correspondent Adam Fleming said the commission's suggestion appeared to be at odds with comments made by the Northern Ireland Secretary, James Brokenshire, this week.

Mr Brokenshire said it was "difficult to imagine" Northern Ireland remaining in either the customs union of the single market after Brexit.

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Brexit talks: Some progress on citizens' rights - Barnier

Union jack and EU flagsImage copyright Reuters

"Some progress" has been made in the Brexit talks, the EU's Michel Barnier has said, following the latest round of negotiations with the UK in Brussels.

He was speaking after meeting Brexit Secretary David Davis for further talks on citizens' rights, the Irish border, and the UK's "divorce bill".

Mr Davis said it was time for both sides "to work to find solutions".

Before the talks, Theresa May said she wanted the UK's exit date set in law, and warned MPs not to block Brexit.

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Theresa May to meet EU business leaders

  • 13 November 2017
  • From the section Business
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Europe flag outside parliamentImage copyright AFP

European business leaders will meet Prime Minister Theresa May later on Monday to voice concerns about the future of UK-EU trade.

Experts from groups including the CBI and BusinessEurope will stress the need for a transitional deal that preserves the status quo after Brexit.

They will urge the government to clarify the future relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU.

The next round of Brexit talks is due to start in mid-December.

They will meet Mrs May at No 10, as well as Business Secretary Greg Clark, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay,

The CBI and the Institute of Directors will be represented, as will business organisations from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium.

But there are concerns that future trade talks could collapse ahead of December's EU summit.

EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that the talks will only go ahead if the UK first clarifies its financial obligations to the EU.

Mr Davis has said the UK was "ready and willing" to engage with Brussels "as often and as quickly as needed".

Shared input

The business leaders are set to tell the prime minister they want real progress on a future free trade agreement, as well as a transitional arrangement until that can be implemented.

Mrs May is expected to reiterate the UK's commitment to securing an implementation period of about two years once the country leaves the EU in March 2019.

She will also ask the business experts to share their input on how the UK and EU can continue to thrive side by side in industry and economic development.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Michel Barnier warned of the possible collapse of upcoming Brexit negotiations

The BBC's business editor, Simon Jack, says some UK business leaders in favour of Brexit are concerned that a transition period maintaining the current arrangements will delay and frustrate Britain's attempts to strike new independent deals.

Our editor says that while hoping a deal with the EU can be achieved, some are concerned that the lack of progress so far plays into the EU's hands.

They are therefore recommending the government uses its time to prepare for a "no deal" scenario which would see the UK trade with Europe on the same terms - and tariffs - as the rest of the world.

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