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Blow for Prime Minister Theresa May as
lawmakers again reject latest Brexit deal

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British lawmakers on Tuesday voted down Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal again in the House of Commons by a margin of 149 votes.

After a day-long debate in the parliament chamber, lawmakers voted by 391 to 242 to reject the "improved" deal May presented after her last-minute talks with the European Union (EU) in Strasbourg, France.

It was the second time MPs have rejected May’s deal, but in the first vote in January she lost by a massive margin of 230, the biggest ever defeat in British political history.

May, tired and struggling to talk with a soar throat, faced a crowded chamber in the House of Commons to urge MPs to back her deal.

She won a series of legally binding changes to her original deal on Monday night, and had hoped she had done enough in late night talks with the EU to get her deal through the British parliament.

Her hopes were shattered Tuesday when the government’s attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, told MPs the legal risk of Britain being tied to the EU after Brexit "remained unchanged".

He said new assurances secured by May in crunch talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker did reduce the risk that Britain could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained in a backstop arrangement the EU has insisted upon to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

After the meaningful parliamentary vote, the prime minister said, "I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight."

"I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is that the UK leaves the EU in an orderly fashion with a deal, and that the deal we have negotiated is the best and indeed the only deal available," May said.

"Tonight we will table a motion for debate tomorrow to test whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29th March," she said.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that May’s Brexit deal is "clearly dead".

He told the parliament that the prime minister has "run down the clock, and the clock has been run down on her".

The crunch vote, which started at 1900 GMT, took place after members of the European Research Group (ERG), a main faction within May’s Conservative Party, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up May’s minority government, rejected her deal in spite of several changes secured on Monday night.

The ERG said changes secured by the prime minister in Strasbourg on Monday did not deliver sufficient legally binding changes to the Irish backstop, and did not provide an exit mechanism over which Britain had control.

The DUP also voted against her deal.

A spokesman for the party said earlier Tuesday that "having carefully considered the published material, it is clear that the risks remain that the UK would be unable to lawfully exit the backstop were it to be activated."

With Britain scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, the fate of Brexit now hangs in the balance, though MPs have been promised a vote on Wednesday on whether they want to rule out a no-deal option.

British politicians have also been told that they will have a vote on Thursday on whether to seek an extension of the departure date.

Immediately after the vote outcome was announced, Corbyn even went a step further by calling for a general election.
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EARLIER REPORT:

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal rejected by parliament again

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected again on Tuesday by MPs in the second meaningful vote in the parliament since January, increasing uncertainty about how the country will leave the European Union.

MPs voted against May’s revised EU withdrawal agreement by 391 to 242, another heavy defeat since Jan. 15, when MPs rejected May’s Brexit deal by a margin of 230.

The voting started at around 1900 GMT, with the prime minister heading for a defeat.

A hoarse prime minister, who was carrying on her last-ditch battle to save her Brexit deal just hours before the crunch vote, failed to win over the ERG, a major faction within her Conservative Party.

The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29.

May’s Brexit deal was voted down on Jan. 15 in the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the modern era.

"I profoundly regret the decision this house has taken," May told lawmakers in a short speech right after the voting.

She added that the choices facing Britain were "unenviable", but because of the rejection of her deal. "They are choices that must be faced," she said.

May has secured legally binding changes to the deal on Monday night, but rebel lawmakers of her Conservative Party and those from the opposition Labour Party had said that these changes were not enough to persuade MPs to back the agreement reached by London and Brussels in November 2018 after years of painful negotiations.

"The reality is that nothing has changed," Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Labour Party, said in the parliament.

"Nothing has changed.

"Not one single word was changed."

Corbyn said the Labour party put forward the idea of "remain and reform" in the referendum campaign.

With her Brexit deal rejected again in the parliament, the prime minister then faces a possible defeat on a second vote on Wednesday to prevent a no-deal Brexit on March 29, and a third vote on Thursday to extend the Article 50 divorce process, likely until the end of June.
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SEE ALSO:

British Prime Minister Theresa May secures 'legally
binding' changes to Brexit deal ahead of a key vote

             

 

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