Sputnik discussed Mrs. May's plan with Dr Eoin O'Malley, an associate professor in political science at the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University.
Sputnik: What essentially new does Theresa May's plan B reveal?
Eoin O'Malley: There doesn't seem to be anything new in plan B, it just seems to be plan A, but with looking for a little bit more clarification. So, plan A was essentially the deal that she had negotiated with the European Commission, which was, obviously, rejected in the House of Commons. Plan B seems to be that she is going to look for some clarification on the backstop.
I think she is hoping that there could be some time limit on this famous backstop. The backstop is a sort of an insurance policy that if the EU and the UK cannot come to any agreement, a trade deal for instance, then there would be no border posts put in on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So, there doesn't seem to be anything new in it; there's just a kind of vague hope that something new might emerge.
Sputnik: Mrs. May said she could not definitely rule out a no-deal scenario. How high is the likelihood of Britain breaking away from the bloc without a deal?
But again, the most likely thing to happen, and probably the only thing that anybody could agree, is that there would be an extension to this Article 50, which is the article under which they are negotiating the exit. So, you might have an extension so it won't be on 29 March; they might say "okay, let's give ourselves another two or three months; we'll go to the end of May or the end of June".
Sputnik: Mrs. May is expected to discuss the backstop issue with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and try to get more concessions from the European Union. How willing is Brussels to give them to her?
Sputnik: What outcome do you expect on 29 January?
Eoin O'Malley: I suppose there's nothing to vote on yet, because there isn't a real plan B. But I can't imagine that anything really will have changed. The only thing that might have changed is that we're a little bit closer to a no-deal, and that might get a few people to back her; but she's not going to make up to 200 votes that she needs to make up, so I don't think there will be any real change when the House of Commons votes on this deal next.
Sputnik: What do you make of Mrs. May's statement that Britain will definitely leave the European Union on 29 March?
Sputnik: Bloomberg reported that Mrs. May put army reservists on standby; what is she trying to achieve by this?
Eoin O'Malley: Again, I think it's part of the negotiation strategy, it's trying to say "we're ready for it"; but part of it is, probably, practical as well in that nobody is quite clear what will happen at borders and at the customs posts, so customs checks will have to be done.
They don't have enough people to do them, so you can use army reservists to do a lot of that heavy lifting that might be required if you suddenly have to build cabins for a customs posts at ports, you have to do things like that. Again, I think it's also part of these negotiations just to try to signal to Brussels that "we are ready for a crash-out, so you'd better negotiate with us and you'd better do a deal with us".
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.