Food chiefs warn no-deal Brexit will cut availability


A leading Brexit supporter says he will back Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce deal with the European Union if she wins concessions on controversial language created to prevent border checks in Northern Ireland.

But in Brussels this afternoon the EU's Brexit negotiator said that there were no alternatives to the backstop, and that European Union leaders would not reopen the withdrawal agreement.

"People like me want to avoid a no-deal outcome, a crashing out on March 29".

Minutes after the vote, a European Union spokesman said the bloc wouldn't renegotiate the deal and would only consider changes to the political declaration, a non-binding document that tackles trade and future ties, if May reconsiders her red lines.

But speaking at a conference in Brussels she said the divorce deal was locked and there would be "no more negotiations" - ruling out a time limit on the backstop demanded by Tory Brexiteer MPs.

We'll find out soon what amendments British MPs will vote on tonight in the House of Commons.

After British MPs overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal earlier this month, they will vote again on Tuesday (today) on what they want her to do next as the March 29 departure deadline looms.

"She said a vote of the Brady amendment makes it clear that the current nature of the backstop is the key reason that the House can not support the deal", the spokesman added.

Responding to the vote, the Irish Government said the Withdrawal Agreement "is not open for re-negotiation". "There is a very clear message from the EU's leaders that they want [Britain] to leave with a deal, and they understand this is in the best interests of the European Union as well as the United Kingdom", he said.

Tuesday's ambiguous votes won't mark the end of Britain's turmoil over Brexit: There could be a rerun in two weeks.

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If a subsequent piece of legislation is passed, it would give May until February 26 to get a deal approved by Parliament or face a vote on whether to ask the European Union to delay Britain's exit to avoid leaving without a deal on March 29.

McDonald's, Sainsbury's and Waitrose were among those saying Monday they were "extremely concerned" about disruptions in the food supply chain, given that almost one-third of the food Britons eat comes from the EU.

It will be "extraordinarily difficult" for the United Kingdom to win concessions or remove the backstop unless it moves its own red lines, the official said.

Lawmakers have proposed more than 10 different amendments to be debated on Tuesday, but only a small number likely will be chosen to be voted on, starting at approximately 2 p.m. ET.

Despite a last minute gamble aimed at buying off rebels in her Conservative Party, the prime minister will face a knife-edge battle to block a proposal that would hand the parliament the power to delay the process and prevent a no-deal divorce. "The EU has been clear that the backstop is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement".

"May won support for an amendment that she probably expects she can not deliver on in the hope that parliament will support her deal last minute in order to avoid no-deal Brexit", Ravn told AFP.

A series of Commons votes Tuesday on next steps submitted by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators ended up sending starkly mixed signals, as lawmakers backed a call to renegotiate the deal, and also approved a rival motion ruling out a no-deal exit.

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said his lawmakers would support amendments meant to "block a disastrous no-deal". Senior EU figures have stated that a renegotiation of the deal is only possible if May softens her Brexit negotiating red lines.

"We want to get this vote through tomorrow".