Speaking after lawmakers backed a move to reopen negotiations with the EU over the Northern Ireland backstop, Prime Minister Theresa May said that it was now “clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.”
May said she would now seek to deal with concerns — primarily from the rightwing of her own Conservative party — over the backstop, an insurance policy in the withdrawal deal to avoid a hard border between Ireland (which is in the EU) and Northern Ireland after Brexit.
“There is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy,” May said, triggering a round of jeers from the House of Commons. “But in contrast to a fortnight ago, this House has made clear what it needs to approve a Withdrawal Agreement.”
Reiterating her stance on no-deal, May added that simply opposing an exit from the EU without a deal is not enough to stop it, but underlined that the government would redouble its efforts to achieve a deal Parliament could support.
After weeks of refusing to hold talks with the Prime Minister, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that his Labour party was now prepared to meet May to outline the kind of agreement that it wants with the European Union.
Scottish National Party MP Ian Blackford, who earlier proposed a “stop the clock” amendment on Brexit that was soundly defeated, shouted repeatedly that the Brady vote “effectively ripped apart the Good Friday Agreement.”
The Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998, helped end years of deadly sectarian violence and paved the way for the removal of border posts on the frontier between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Nigel Dodds, the Deputy Leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, retorted that the vote to renegotiate the deal and the backstop did not “drive a coach and horses” through the historic peace agreement, adding that it is “utterly reckless to talk in those terms.”