May to ask MPs for further fortnight's grace in Brexit talks

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PM will stress her continued focus on Irish backstop but EU indicates it will not give way

Theresa May in Downing Street
Theresa May in Downing Street. Her focus in the Brexit talks is on the Irish backstop. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Theresa May hopes to convince the House of Commons on Tuesday to give her another fortnight???s grace to keep pushing for changes to the Irish backstop ??? despite the insistence of Michel Barnier that it is Britain that must compromise.

With 45 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the EU, with or without a deal, the prime minister will address MPs about progress in the Brexit talks, No 10 announced on Monday.

She is unlikely to signal any shift towards a closer future relationship with the EU, after writing to Jeremy Corbyn to underline her continued objections to a customs union, and instead she will focus on the backstop.

???We are absolutely clear on this: we???re not considering Jeremy Corbyn???s customs proposals, we???re not considering any proposals to remain in the customs union. We must have our own, independent trade policy,??? May???s spokesman said on Monday.

May will stress her continued focus on the backstop, but the EU???s chief negotiator insisted on Monday there was no question of Brussels giving in to Downing Street???s demands.

???We???re waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom,??? Barnier told reporters after talks in Luxembourg with the country???s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.

At a dinner with Barnier in Brussels later on Monday, the UK???s Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, had been expected to echo May???s calls for a time limit on the backstop, a unilateral exit mechanism or its replacement with an ???alternative arrangement???.

But Barnier suggested beforehand that he would offer Barclay little succour. ???Tonight I will repeat the EU???s positions. I will listen to what the secretary of state has to tell us concerning the alternative arrangements which the UK would like,??? Barnier said. ???But it???s not more than a concept today. I will also evaluate the interest from the UK side for possible changes to the political declaration, which, let me remind you, fixes the outline