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Shropshire MPs hopeful for Brexit backstop changes

By Dominic Robertson | Politics | Published:

Two of the Shropshire's MPs say they remain hopeful that the EU will agree to changes to the Brexit backstop, paving the way for Parliament to support Prime Minister's deal.

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard, and his Conservative party colleague, Philip Dunne, who represents the Ludlow constituency, said they wanted meaningful movement from the EU over the Irish backstop arrangement.

It comes as the leaders of the 100-strong Brexit Delivery Group of moderate Conservatives wrote to Chief Whip Julian Smith setting out widespread discontent at the prospect of a no-deal departure.

Andrew Percy, one of the group's leaders, said dozens of his colleagues would be prepared to vote for measures to delay the March 29 exit date if the "intransigence" of hard-line Brexiteers meant Mrs May's deal is again rejected by MPs.

Fresh Brexit talks have been scheduled for early next week as Mrs May heads towards another Commons showdown on her EU withdrawal stance. It is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Mr Pritchard said he hoped there would be changes to the agreement which would allow him to back Theresa May's deal.

He said: "I hope the EU will help the Prime Minister and give some substantive movement on the backstop.

"This does not necessarily mean reopening the Withdrawal Agreement but it does mean giving something meaningful.

"I want to be in a position to support the Prime Minister and thereby avoid a no deal, but the deal cannot lock Britain into a future relationship with the EU similar to what we have now. That would not be delivering Brexit."

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Mr Dunne said that no-deal has to remain on the table as part of the negotiations with the EU.

He said: "We are now into the short strokes of the negotiation which I always thought would go to the wire because they always do with the EU.

"But I have been clear that we needed to, up to this point, keep no deal on the table and that is the default position. The best way to get no deal off the table is to do a deal, and that is why I am supporting the Prime Minister's deal, and I am hopeful the work being done in Brussels, will provide further movement from the EU which will allow the Irish backstop issue to be moved forward so the DUP can support it and so can other Conservative colleagues, and the prime minister will be able to present something to the commons on Wednesday that gives coincidence that this deal can be supported."

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