May will seek “legal and political reassurances” from European officials at the start of an EU council summit on Thursday, over the widely maligned backstop clause in her Brexit divorce deal.
EU leaders have so far shown no willingness publicly to renegotiate any aspect of the Brexit deal struck with the United Kingdom in November.
Critics of the backstop, which would guarantee no hard border is erected on the island of Ireland in the event that post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and the bloc prove unsuccessful, argue it could tie the UK into the EU’s orbit indefinitely.
That’s because the clause proposes that the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, remain in a customs union with the EU “unless and until” the bloc agrees there is no prospect of a return to a hard border.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which May relies on to command a majority in the British parliament, have cautioned meanwhile that it could lead to Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK.