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MEP predicts Brexit delay

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One of West Norfolk’s representatives in Europe has predicted Brexit will be delayed amid the continuing deadlock in negotiations.

MEP Alex Mayer urged Labour and GMB union members to “organise” for forthcoming battles, including the potential for another referendum, as she addressed Labour and GMB union members in Lynn last Friday night.

But a borough MP says his colleagues should back a reformed deal to give certainty to their constituents.

With little more than six weeks left until Britain is due to leave the EU, there is still major uncertainty over whether a deal will be agreed and ratified.

So far, the government has resisted calls for a delay to exit day, with prime minister Theresa May urging MPs to “hold their nerve” during a Commons statement this week, and the EU insists it will not reopen talks on the agreement despite MPs rejecting it.

Miss Mayer told the session at the Yours Business Networks centre she believes a breakthrough may not come until as late as a week before the scheduled departure date of March 29.

Alex Mayer (7194470)
Alex Mayer (7194470)

She added: “I think it’s going to be very difficult to leave on March 29, more from a British perspective, because there is so much legislation to get through Westminster and they’re not talking about it.”

Although she supports the idea of a fresh referendum, she acknowledged that could not happen before Britain’s scheduled departure.

But she argued that such a poll would eventually happen, as the effects of the decision to leave become apparent.

She said: “I don’t think there will be riots on the streets. I think what will happen is we’ll gradually lose power and influence and people will gradually get a bit poorer, a bit worse off.”

She also revealed she feared her party would be unfairly held responsible for Brexit, adding: “I hope the Tories get the blame.”

But North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham says he is still backing Mrs May to find concessions to the controversial Irish backstop that will enable the proposed withdrawal agreement to pass through Parliament.

He acknowledged it could be “tight” to the March 29 date and a short delay may be needed.

But he thinks MPs on both sides who rejected the deal last month may be more inclined to vote for it in the coming weeks, while European leaders are also keen to avoid disruption amid economic uncertainties in nations such as Italy.

And he argues a deal will help firms who have been contacting him to get ready for departure.

He said: “Every day I’m getting calls and emails from businesses in King’s Lynn saying can’t we just get on with it. We need certainty.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is a stepping stone to the absolutely vital trade agreement and that’s going to be an even bigger gig.

“I’m definitely supporting the prime minister as a strong leaver. I’m absolutely confident we will get a deal.”

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