Intense negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) have been taking place in an effort to secure the vote for Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal deal in Parliament on 12 March.
Simon Coveney, the Deputy Leader and Foreign Minister of the ruling Fine Gael party in Southern Ireland, has said that May will meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg on 11 March.
Coveney said at a press conference, “The negotiations are ongoing. Many had hoped we would have clarity at this stage, particularly in advance of the vote tomorrow. We don’t yet.
“The British prime minister is travelling to Strasbourg this evening, I understand, to try to finalise an agreement, if that is possible, to be able to put that to a meaningful vote in Westminster tomorrow,” Coveney added.
However, a source in the Prime Minister’s office told The Guardian that the Irish are “getting ahead of themselves.”
Robin Walker, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Worcester, told Parliament today, in response to an urgent question from the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the progress of negotiations, that the meaningful vote will happen on 12 March, but that negotiations between the EU and UK governments are ongoing.
“The Government will make a statement later today, updating the House [of Commons] on the progress of discussions,” Walker told Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons on 11 March.
May made a commitment to MPs on 26 February to hold a meaningful vote by 12 March, to allow a vote on whether to remove a “no deal” option from the table by 13 March and a last vote on whether to extend Article 50, the withdrawal mechanism, by 14 March. Walker said that the Government was committed to this process.
Corbyn said that May was simply running down the clock and that in the three months since December there had been no change to the original deal tabled by the Prime Minister in January after a delay to the first scheduled vote in mid-December.
Amid fears that May is planning to delay the vote again, Corbyn said, that the commitment to the votes this week “are now a matter of trust.” He added, “It was a bad deal in December… and it’s still a bad deal today.”
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March. Should no deal be agreed to on 12 March by Parliament, the UK could drop out of the EU unless a no deal vote requires the Government to prevent such an outcome. Should May’s deal be defeated and a no deal exit be prevented, it is inevitable that the UK will need to ask the EU for an extension to Article 50.