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A #PeoplesVote could break #Brexit deadlock say Greens

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On 15 January, the UK government faced a massive defeat in the House of Commons over the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with 202 people voting in favour and 432 against.  The leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a motion of no confidence to be debated today (16 January). 

The UK must now explore other options, including calling for a ‘People’s Vote.’  Commenting after the vote, Greens/EFA MEP and co-leading candidate Bas Eickhout said:  “By insisting on leaving the single market, leaving the customs union and ending free movement, May’s government has created her own political deadlock, given that the red lines around the Good Friday Agreement can and should not change.

“A no deal is clearly in the interest of no-one, and must therefore be avoided. It is time that the UK political class stops arguing with itself. If necessary, the EU should offer time to provide the British people with the opportunity for general elections or a ‘People’s Vote' so that they can have a fair and informed choice between the terms on which they withdraw from the EU or whether they prefer to remain a member of the EU."

Ska Keller, the president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and co-leading candidate said:  "In this situation, an extension to Article 50 needs to be considered with the aim of breaking the deadlock. From the EU side, it's clear that red lines around the Good Friday Agreement cannot change. Peace in Northern Ireland is not a bargaining chip, it is peoples' lives.

"A second referendum should be on the cards as a way to find a solution. If the British people were to decide that they want to stay, the EU needs to be very clear that our arms and hearts are very open."

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Sunak says he hopes for a Brexit deal but not at any price

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British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has said there is genuine progress in Brexit talks with the European Union, but that it would be better to walk away from a bad trade deal than tie Britain’s hands in the future, writes Kate Holton.

Sunak, one of the few members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior ministerial team to have emerged from the COVID pandemic with an enhanced reputation, was thought to be one of the leading voices in the cabinet who wanted a free trade deal with the EU.

He told the Sunday Times that he hoped Britain and the European Union would secure an agreement.

“Every day I am reviewing bits of text, so there is genuine progress,” he said. “Certainly, it would be preferable to have a deal.”

But he added: “The major impact on our economy is the coronavirus. It’s absolutely not (a question of doing) a deal at any price.

“If we don’t get a deal, why is that? It is because they are refusing to compromise on what are some completely reasonable and very transparent principles that we’ve laid out from the beginning. We are not asking for super-special treatment.”

The two sides have been locked in talks for months and, while officials say they have made progress in the last few days, a substantial amount still needs to be done for an agreement to be in place and ratified by the year-end deadline.

Sunak gave the interview ahead of a spending review on Wednesday when he will set out the government’s spending over the next year, after COVID-19 blew a £200 billion ($266bn) hole in Britain’s finances.

He said he hoped that, by next spring, he would be able to start thinking beyond the current need to support the economy and jobs, and considering how he could return the public finances to a sustainable level.

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Brexit deal still snagged on three main issues, EU envoys told

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The EU and Britain are very close to agreement on most issues as time runs out for a trade deal but they are still at odds over fishing rights, guarantees of fair competition and ways to solve future disputes, an EU official told ambassadors in Brussels, write  and

“We are both close and far away. It seems that we are very close to agreement on most issues but differences on the three contentious issues persist,” a senior EU diplomat said after ambassadors were briefed on Friday by an EU negotiator.

The chief Brexit negotiators suspended direct talks on Thursday after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19, but officials continued working remotely to clinch an EU-UK trade deal that would come into force in just six weeks.

A second EU diplomat said of the three main sticking points between negotiators: “They still need their time. Some things on the level playing field have moved, albeit very very slowly. Fisheries are not really moving anywhere right now.”

An EU official, who is directly involved in the talks with UK: “Both of these are still very stuck.”

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EU makes final push to reach an agreement with the UK

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Asked about progress on negotiations between the EU and UK on their future relationship, Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said the negotiations were intensifying with a final push being made to reach an agreement. 

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier updated European commissioners at their meeting today (18 November). Dombrovskis said there were still important elements to be resolved.

Dombrovskis said that the European Union had seen many deadlines come and go, but added that there is one deadline which was not moveable, 1 January 2021, when the transition period ends. 

He added that the European Commission would continue to work intensively towards the goal of reaching an agreement with the UK.

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