Saturday, 20 April, 2019

May presses on with Brexit vote as lawmakers demand better deal

Brexit process frustrates UK residents Theresa May warns parliament: Back me or risk no Brexit at all
Leonard Rios | 11 December, 2018, 02:33

British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal because she said it "would be rejected by a significant margin".

Eurosceptics in May's Conservative party and the Northern Irish party that props up her government hate the provision in the Brexit deal created to keep open the border with Ireland - the so-called backstop.

May spoke over the weekend to European Council President Donald Tusk - who will chair an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday - and European leaders including Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, amid signs she was seeking to tweak the deal to win over skeptical lawmakers.

With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal is not up for renegotiation, May's move threw Britain's Brexit plans into disarray, battered the pound and intensified the country's political crisis.

But last minute revelations seem to have scuppered the Prime Minister's plans.

MPs could give Mrs May "a powerful mandate to change that backstop" by voting it down on Tuesday, he said.

But as opposition MPs shouted "resign" at May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray".

Downing Street insisted that the vote would still go ahead on Tuesday amid speculation she might be forced to delay the showdown.

May has been trying to find some kind of modifications to the Brexit deal that could appease her many critics.

European Union leaders signaled they are prepared to help Britain, up to a point, but insisted the Brexit agreement could not be changed. "So the government will step up its work in preparation for that potential outcome", she told parliament.

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Late in November of this year, May returned from Brussels with a withdrawal settlement and a blueprint for future relations after two years of negotiations with European officials.

That could be a problem for May in Parliament, though she could argue with some conviction that with a Norway-style deal as the final destination, the backstop would nearly certainly not be needed.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator, tweeted: "I can't follow anymore".

Britain invoked Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, triggering a two-year exit process.

A person dressed as British Prime Minister Theresa May at a "Brexit Fudge" pop-up shop organised by pro-Europe activists Best for Britain outside the Houses of Parliament yesterday.

A heavy defeat would sink the agreement, leaving the United Kingdom facing a messy "no-deal" Brexit when it leaves the bloc on March 29, and could topple May and her government. Just keep in mind that we will never let the Irish down.

The timing of the ruling on the eve of the British parliamentary vote was no coincidence - the court said it had ruled with unprecedented haste to ensure that British lawmakers would understand their options. Crucially, Britain could only do this if an exit deal hadn't already been agreed upon.

"Without change [May's deal] jeopardizes the control of our money, our borders, our regulatory independence and our constitution too", said the Conservative MP and former Brexit Secretary David Davis.

Adding another twist to the scenario, the European Court of Justice-the bloc's top court-determined that it would be legal for the U.K.to cancel Brexit altogether without requesting the permission of the rest of the EU.

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