Five ministers to persuade May on Brexit deal

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Five British ministers, bigwigs in Theresa May’s team, have decided to persuade the Prime Minister to make changes to her draft Brexit deal.

According to BBC, Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons, is coordinating the group.

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The five ministers include Michael Gove and Liam Fox – who on Friday publicly threw their support behind May as well as Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling.

May published her draft withdrawal agreement with the EU on Wednesday.

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The 585-page document sets out the terms of the UK’s departure and includes details such as how much money will be paid to the EU, details of the transition period and citizens rights.

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The deal prompted the start of a tumultuous few days for Mrs May, with two senior ministers and several other junior ministers and aides resigning.

Some Conservative Brexiteers who are unhappy with the agreement have also been submitting letters of no-confidence in Mrs May. If 48 letters are sent, then a vote will be triggered and she could face a challenge to her leadership.

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On Friday evening, it emerged that Mrs Leadsom hopes to work with the four other ministers to change a specific part of the draft withdrawal deal regarding what is known as the Irish backstop – which has been one of the main sticking points in talks with Brussels.

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Both sides want to avoid a hard Northern Ireland border so they agreed to put in place a “backstop” – or back-up plan – in case they cannot reach a long-term trade agreement which does this.

The backstop would mean that Northern Ireland would stay more closely aligned to some EU rules on things like food products and goods standards than the rest of the UK, which critics say is unacceptable. The UK would not be able to leave the backstop without the EU’s consent.

The group of ministers want a change in the text to include the possibility of new technology or a free trade deal as alternative solutions to the Irish border issue.

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The group’s plans were described as a “work in progress”, and a “last-ditch attempt to find something to put to the Commons”.

And a source said of Theresa May’s deal: “Even if you don’t mind it ideologically, you can’t be fooled about getting it through the Commons.”

The source suggested that if changes weren’t made, resignations from Brexiteers still in the cabinet were “not off the table”.

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