Justice Secretary David Gauke hinted his support for a delay to Brexit if it was needed to ensure a "smooth and orderly" exit as he urged his colleagues to support a deal.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We need to leave the European Union in a smooth and orderly way, and our objective is to do that on the 29th March, but I think it is important that it is a smooth and orderly departure and that is key.

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"The determination that the Prime Minister has set out is to deliver that on the 29th March but if we are going to do that then MPs do need to be backing a deal in short order, and that's MPs both on my own side and also in other parties."

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Prime Minister Theresa May is to travel to Northern Ireland on Tuesday to deliver a speech on Brexit and meet local businesses, her official spokesman has said.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer used a visit to Northern Ireland on Monday to stress that Labour accepts the principle of a backstop agreement in order to prevent a return to a hard border.

Sir Keir told the Press Association: "From the Labour Party point of view we obviously see that there are difficulties with the backstop.

"There are features there that are going to cause concern. But we recognise there is a need for a backstop at this stage of the exercise.

"The Prime Minister has effectively run down the clock and therefore it is impossible to see a way forward without a backstop.

"So, whilst we have got concerns that we have set out about the backstop, we do accept the principle that there has got to be a backstop."

The comments came after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last week said that he had "a problem" where the backstop agreement was "one-sided".

Sir Keir said he did not believe Mrs May would succeed in agreeing an alternative to the backstop with the EU, stating: "The Prime Minister and her team have spent over 12 months trying to find an alternative to the backstop.

"We have only got the backstop because they couldn't find an alternative.

READ MORE: Theresa May to meet Tory rebels to thrash out Brexit deal 

"So, for her to go back now saying 'I don't want the backstop, I want an alternative' is to stand the last 12 months on its head.

"And I think that's what is causing the anxiety because nobody realistically thinks she's going to succeed in that objective."

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill has said the Labour Party sees the backstop as "inevitable".

Ms O'Neill made the comments following a meeting with Labour MP Sir Keir Starmer.
Speaking at Europa Hotel, Belfast, Ms O'Neill said: "It was important today to put to Keir Starmer that we need to see clarity from the Labour Party on the backstop.

"He did say in the meeting that the backstop is inevitable and that is the Labour position. It's their position because they understand the need to ensure there's no hard border on this island."

She said it was important that Sir Keir heard first hand "very clearly and directly" the need to protect the backstop.

Hilary Benn, Labour chairman of the Exiting the EU Committee, has said he cannot see how the so-called "Malthouse Compromise" plan will work.

Speaking in Brussels, he told reporters: "A lot of it to me, I have to say, personally, looks very familiar if you go back to last summer when people looked at technology and trusted traders and all of that, and a great deal of effort was put into examining those as a possible way forward.

"The conclusion that was reached I think on behalf of the British Government and the European Union was that well, it's not going to work.

"And I personally, but others will have a different view, personally I don't see how it can work particularly in the very short amount of time that there is left."