January 31, 2019 / 8:48 AM / 22 days ago

UK to formulate Irish border proposals 'in a few days' - Hunt

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will take a few days to formulate proposals to put to the European Union in an attempt to resolve the issue of Irish border arrangements after Brexit, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt told BBC radio on Thursday.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives in Downing Street, London, Britain, December 18, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

British lawmakers on Tuesday instructed Prime Minister Theresa May to reopen her Brexit treaty with the EU to replace a controversial Irish border arrangement - the backstop - but promptly received a rejection from Brussels.

“We will put those proposals together. It is going to take a few days to do that,” Hunt said.

“I happen to believe there is potential along all the different routes that have been discussed. But we need to put those together, make sure they meet the concerns the EU has expressed and then I think ... we will have a proper discussion,” he said.

Hunt said it was too early to say if an extension to the Brexit process would be required. Britain is due to leave on March 29.

“I think it is true that if we ended up approving a deal in the days before March 29 then we might need some extra time to pass critical legislation,” said Hunt.

“But if we are able to make progress sooner then that might not be necessary.”

The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, told MPs on Thursday that parliament’s planned February recess would be cancelled so it could make progress on “key business”. The government has also said it is looking at extending the hours during which parliament sits.

Asked about Hunt’s comments, May’s spokesman said: “The prime minister’s position on this is unchanged: we will be leaving on March 29.

“We are determined to have everything in place in order for us to leave on March 29,” he added. “The fact that recess won’t be taking place and Members of Parliament will be sitting shows you that we are taking all available steps to make sure that March 29 is our exit date.”

Reporting by James Davey and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison

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