Feuding UK politicians seek elusive unity as Brexit looms


British officials have revived Cold War emergency plans to relocate the royal family should there be riots in London if Britain suffers a disruptive departure from the European Union next month, media reports said yesterday.

The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is no longer welcome in Calais, according to the port's chairman, who has been angered by British plans to divert some sea traffic in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking to business leaders on Tuesday during a two-day trip to the region, May said she understood local concerns about the current deadlock in Westminster, where Conservative MPs continued to discuss "alternative arrangements" to the backstop - the backup mechanism created to avoid a hard border set out in the withdrawal agreement May struck with the European Union (EU).

May came out against such an extension earlier on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

Ms May said opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn "also believes the potential indefinite nature of the backstop is an issue", and that the European Union has "already accepted the principle of "alternative arrangements" superseding the backstop should it ever be required". "But, of course, there is room, if used intelligently, there is room enough to give further clarifications and further interpretations".

May's words of reassurance did little to solve her Brexit border dilemma.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox last week attempted to originate a "Plan D" Brexit deal in which leading Eurosceptics would form a "joint interpretive instrument" guaranteeing a time-limited backstop.

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"To solve this point you have to be creative and listen to each other, and such discussions can and must be conducted", Merkel said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is seeking changes to the Withdrawal Agreement she agreed with Brussels previous year in order to win the support of parliament.

The border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland will be the UK's only land border with the European Union after Brexit, now scheduled on March 29.

The Prime Minister yesterday vowed to ensure there is no return to the "borders of the past" as she delivered a speech in Belfast with negotiations at a critical stage.

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said that with just 51 days to Brexit, the Prime Minister had no viable policy to avoid a hard border. This is supported by a group of MPs scrutinising the work of the Brexit Ministry, the Exiting the EU Select Committee. She rejected the suggestion of seeking alternative arrangements for the backstop constituted "ripping up the Good Friday Agreement", the basis of the UK-Ireland peace process.

She infuriated Tory Eurosceptics by saying she is not proposing to scrap the backstop from the Brexit deal altogether - despite previously acknowledging it must be replaced with "alternative arrangements".

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, dismissed the "toxic" backstop ahead of May's speech, though suggested that if it is "dealt with" the party would support May's deal.