February 12, 2019
Last night, I’d been reporting on the meeting at the UK Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels between Michel Barnier and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.
They’d been joined for their dinner by their respective teams, including Olly Robbins, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator.
I saw Olly Robbins leave the dinner and walk to his taxi as my cameraman and I were preparing to report live outside for ITV News.
Once we’d finished we returned to our hotel and decided to have a quick nightcap in the bar.
It was then, when we walked into the bar, we realised Olly Robbins was also in the same hotel. He too was having a drink.
He was with two colleagues in the bar and could be clearly overheard by other guests as he gossiped about Brexit, the cabinet and MPs.
He was speaking in such a manner that you didn’t have to listen hard to hear him. But to be clear, I was hearing chunks of their conversation and not every single word.
UK chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins warns MPs the choice is Mays deal or extension
But during that conversation Olly Robbins said that, in his view, he expects the choice for MPs to be either backing May’s deal or extending talks with the EU.
He expects MPs in March to be presented with backing a reworked Brexit deal or a potentially significant delay to Brexit, he told colleagues last night.
“The issue is whether Brussels is clear on the terms of extension,” he was overheard saying. “In the end they will probably just give us an extension.”
This is significant. The prime minister has consistently said that we are leaving the EU on March 29th and that she will not engage with discussion about delaying our departure.
We now know her chief negotiator – who works directly for her – appears to be expecting a delay. A delay which she has always said was an option that was not on the table.
Robbins added that he thought the fear of a long extension to Article 50 might focus MPs' minds.
UK chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins warns MPs the choice is Mays deal or extension
He suggested: “... Got to make them believe that the week beginning end of March... Extension is possible but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one...”
On the backstop, Robbins outlined a strategy to satisfy Theresa May's backbenchers, saying the European Commission would need to agree that the word “necessary” in the Northern Ireland protocol is defined as “necessary subject to the future trade deal”.
At the moment the text of the document says the backstop must “maintain the necessary conditions” for North-South cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement.
It appears that Robbins and the prime minister want the Withdrawal Agreement amended so that the Good Friday Agreement would be less of an obstacle to the backstop being superseded by a new long-term trading relationship between the UK and EU.
What is also striking is how Robbins confirmed that the original plan was for the backstop, which would keep the UK in the customs union, was designed not as a "safety net" for the island of Ireland but as "a bridge" to the long-term trading relationship - which is something the prime minister has always denied.
“The big clash all along is the ‘safety net’,” Robbins said. “We agreed a bridge but it came out as a ‘safety net’.”
These remarks by Robbins are explosive, because they will confirm the fears of Tory Brexiters that he and May always saw some form of customs union membership as the long term ambition for the UK's trading relationship with the EU.
Had it stayed as a ‘bridge’ into a customs union that might have lessened Labour opposition to the deal.
He explained that the current talks in Brussels need to find a ‘way out’ for those who see the backstop as a “trap”.
The talks go on.
A government spokesperson said: “We don’t propose to comment on alleged remarks from a private conversation. The government’s focus is on securing the improvements Parliament needs to pass a deal so we leave the EU on 29th March.”
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Cynthia Bailey gets married and New York gets a new Housewife? | Page Six Celebrity News
October 16, 2020
oNjq8OU4uco
Jordyn Woods’ boyfriend Karl-Anthony Towns ‘super supportive’ of her joining OnlyFans | Page Six
October 16, 2020
n1t8Zp_Usx0
No, ‘Saved by the Bell’ star Dustin Diamond did not die in prison riot | Page Six Celebrity News
October 16, 2020
UDHgbO3ASu0
Sebastián Yatra: Live from My Den
October 16, 2020
brZvJt7VBaA
John Leguizamo, Stephanie Beatriz, Benjamin Bratt, Cristela Alonzo, Julio Torres on Finding Success
October 15, 2020
5dRJPhAATM0
Clare Crawley Breaks Down Her First Episode of 'The Bachelorette' Meeting Dale
October 13, 2020
eb4Z8NILvEA
Michael Blackson's Bummed 'Coming To America 2' Won't Be In Theaters | TMZ
October 18, 2020
mhKYL26vuD4
Prepared Patriotic Voter Says Her Viral TikTok was Hot Tip for Seniors | TMZ
October 17, 2020
Nx8Ck2I1-JY
Shakira Puts On A Wetsuit And Surfs It Up! | TMZ TV
October 16, 2020
UwBVladoa24
Kylie & Travis Back On?, Demi Sees UFO & Bey's New Drop of Drip
October 20, 2020
l503o49dCDQ
Ryan Dorsey Shares 1st Photo of Son Since Ex Naya Rivera's Death
October 19, 2020
CFNqKNTZ8wQ
Billie Eilish's Sneakers Have Divided the Internet | E! News
October 19, 2020
VUlj38hk2gI
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Wolves
19
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Burnley
19
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Genoa
18
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Benevento
18
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - West Ham United
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Arsenal
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - AC Milan
17
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Arminia Bielefeld - Bayern Munich
17
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Hoffenheim - Borussia Dortmund
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Southampton
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Manchester United
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Barcelona
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Crotone - Juventus
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Cadiz
17
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Celta Vigo - Atletico Madrid
17
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Atalanta
17
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Liverpool
15
Oct
GERMANY: National cup
Duren Merzenich - Bayern Munich
13
Oct
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Switzerland
10
Oct
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Ukraine - Germany
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Tottenham Hotspur
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Sheffield United
04
Oct
ENGLAND: Premier League
Aston Villa - Liverpool
04
Oct
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - Hertha Berlin
04
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Sevilla
04
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Spezia
04
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Inter Milan
04
Oct
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Madrid
03
Oct
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Roma
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.