PM HEADS TO BRUSSELS HOURS AFTER 'HUMILIATING' DEFEAT
THERESA MAY WILL URGE EU LEADERS TO APPROVE AN AGREEMENT TO MOVE BREXIT TALKS ON TO A SECOND PHASE A LITTLE LATER.
At the beginning of a dinner in Brussels, 24 hours after an embarrassing parliamentary defeat at home, May will repeat her case for unlocking talks to unravel more than 40 years of union to allow for the discussion of future trade, which she sees as crucial to offering certainty for businesses.
The 27 other EU leaders are all but certain to approve the deal to move to 'phase two' on Friday, after May has left Brussels, launching a new stage of talks that could be hampered by divisions at home and differences with the EU.
"The prime minister will say that reaching the agreement on phase one has required give and take on both sides but a fair outcome has been achieved," a senior government official told reporters.
After days of often fraught diplomacy, May rescued the initial deal last Friday, easing the concerns of her Northern Irish allies over the wording to protect a free border with EU member Ireland without separating the province from the UK.
Then, EU negotiators said the talks had made "sufficient progress", a recommendation that will, barring accidents, be blessed by the leaders of the other member states.
Her success has won her some respite at home from political infighting between enthusiasts and sceptics of Brexit in her ruling party, and has reduced the prospect of a disorderly departure from the bloc.
But there are hurdles still to come. May and her cabinet are due next Tuesday to hold a discussion of the senior ministers' competing views on Britain's future outside the EU - to remain close to the bloc or forge a new path.
The EU is willing to start talks next month on a roughly two-year transition period to ease Britain out after March 2019 but wants more detail from London on what it wants before it will open trade negotiations from March.
Pro-Brexit lawmakers are concerned by a fall-back promise in the initial deal to have "full regulatory alignment" with the EU if there is no overall agreement on future ties, and fear that their desire for an independent Britain is being undermined.Published: by Radio NewsHub