February 14, 2019 / 8:31 AM / 7 days ago

UK will back Brexit deal if it excludes Irish backstop, Hunt says

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seen outside of Downing Street in London, Britain, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

WARSAW (Reuters) - British lawmakers are certain to back a proposed Brexit agreement if it does not include the backstop, a controversial Irish border arrangement, British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told a Polish newspaper.

The British parliament will vote later on Thursday on Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for an agreement with the European Union on the terms of its withdrawal from the bloc. Britain is due to quit the EU on March 29.

“I agree that in December it was difficult to spot a solution. Now, however, it is clear that the parliament will support the divorce deal in the current shape, with one exception - the backstop,” Hunt said in an interview in the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza published on Thursday.

Hunt is attending a conference in Warsaw that opened on Wednesday.

“If we change one thing - the entry that could potentially lock the United Kingdom in the customs union without an option to leave - the remaining part of the agreement will gain the support. I am sure this will work out.”

Hunt also said that it was “pointless” to delay the Brexit process without any agreement.

Last month, EU President Donald Tusk said British leaders who sold Brexit with no plan for how to deliver it deserve a “special place in hell”.

“I would think that there is a special place in heaven for those who respect democracy. Brexit was the biggest test for democracy that we have ever had,” Hunt told Gazeta Wyborcza.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by Larry King

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