Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Brexit hangs in balance as parliament to vote on May's tweaked deal

European council president signals Corbyn’s deal is the only way to stop no-deal Brexit British PM May fails to win over her party ahead of Brexit vote
Ellis Copeland | 14 March, 2019, 14:03

An influential pro-Brexit faction of lawmakers in May's Conservatives said Tuesday it would not be voting for her Brexit deal as the assurances received from the European Union did not meet the tests the government set itself.

May rushed to Strasbourg on Monday for last-minute talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in a bid to salvage the Brexit deal.

Ahead of the no-deal vote, German Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to say how long she thinks a possible delay to Brexit should be, but said it was in "our mutual interest that we achieve an orderly departure".

Cox gave his legal opinion on the new wording struck between May and Juncker - which could be crucial in determining how Brexiteers vote later Tuesday.

The pair agreed a "joint instrument" setting out the legally-binding nature of their promises to seek alternative arrangements to avoid the need for a backstop, as well as a "supplement" to November's Political Declaration making clear that they will seek swiftly to seal a deal on their new trade and security relationship.

She said the assurances created an arbitration channel for any disputes on the backstop, "entrenches in legally-binding form" existing commitments that it will be temporary and binds the United Kingdom and European Union to starting work on replacing the backstop with other arrangements by December 2020.

After two-and-a-half years of haggling since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Juncker cautioned this was the last chance for Britain.

"The market believes it increases the likelihood of a "no" vote tonight", he said.

Sterling rose on news of the deal but then gave up its gains by mid-morning and was trading $1.3163 at 1040 GMT.

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Abby Huntsman, a Republican on the panel, followed up by asking, "Does that make it better?" "We're here to have a good laugh". President Donald Trump has had it with the #fakeMelania conspiracy theories that have been circulating on social media.


British lawmakers have gone on record saying they don't want the U.K.to leave the European Union without a divorce agreement in place, increasing the odds that Brexit won't take place as planned at the end of the month. "The PM is giving us basically the same deal", said Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer, who is calling for a "pause" and more time to consider the next steps.

Brexit-supporting MPs in May's party had accused her of botching the negotiations with Brussels.

Announcing the breakthrough in Britain's House of Commons, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said lawmakers faced "a fundamental choice ... to vote for the improved deal or to plunge this country into a political crisis".

Speaker of the House John Bercow said on Wednesday that the government motion will be amendable, meaning MPs may try to gain a majority for the length of the delay or type of Brexit as part of the extension.

The panel includes Nigel Dodds, the Westminster leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, whose judgment will be crucial not only in determining the position of his own party's 10 MPs but also numerous 118 Conservatives who rebelled against the Withdrawal Agreement in the first "meaningful vote".

And Tory MP Mark Francois speculated in the House the Prime Minister was planning to come back with her deal before the House on the 26th of March, only three days before the official exit date. Varadkar said the legal instrument agreed in Strasbourg "does not call into question that the backstop will apply unless and until better arrangements are agreed".

"It would be very hard for the prime minister to stay in office for very much longer", Morgan told the BBC.

"It was his opinion that matters the most".

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