by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua)
-- British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday secured "legally
binding" changes to her Brexit deal just less than 24 hours
before a meaningful vote in the parliament on it, according to
senior British official here.
David Lidington, the British Cabinet Office minister, told
the House of Commons that the parliament will vote on this
"improved" deal on Tuesday.
The changes "strengthen and improve" the withdrawal agreement
that will see the UK leave the EU, as well as its future
relationship with the bloc, said Lidington, who is the prime
minister’s de facto deputy.
May, who is fighting to save her Brexit deal with the
European Union (EU), arrived in Strasbourg late Monday for
last-ditch talks with senior EU officials in order to have the
withdrawal agreement passed in the parliament.
At a press conference in Strasbourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, the
president of the European Commission, said that the Irish
backstop, the bilateral agreement aimed at avoiding a harder
border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, is
"an insurance policy."
Also speaking at the press conference, May said that the
latest agreement is legally binding, just like the withdrawal
The Democratic Unionist Party, a party from Northern Ireland
which props up May’s government, said Monday night that it will
carefully study the latest EU-UK agreement.
Earlier Monday, the European Commission voiced its hope that
the members of parliament will back the EU-UK agreement, adding
that it is up to them to decide what the country will do in next
step on Brexit.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, but MPs rejected
May’s withdrawal deal by a large margin in January and demanded
major changes. Before her Monday trip to the European continent,
May has failed to secure significant concessions from Brussels.
If May’s deal is voted down on Tuesday in the parliament, she
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.
Lidington said the British government would Monday night lay
two new documents to the House of Commons—a joint legally
binding instrument on the withdrawal agreement and a joint
statement to supplement the political declaration on Britain’s
future relationship with the EU.
The so-called breakthrough came after what were described as
last throw of the dice by May to save her Brexit deal.
Throughout Monday, the political landscape continually
changed as politicians predicted May would lose Tuesday’s vote
by as many as 150 votes.
When May presented her deal to MPs in January it lost by 230,
the biggest defeat in British political history.
Opponents to her deal, especially in her Conservative Party,
say they will never accept a deal that risks keeping Britain
allied to EU rules.
May and her government now face a waiting game to see how
parliament will react to the latest developments.
May is to open a debate in the House of Commons Tuesday that
will conclude Tuesday night with a vote on the "improved" deal
she has brokered with the EU on Britain’s relationship after it
ends its membership of the regional bloc.
Keir Starmer, chief Brexit spokesman for the main opposition
Labour Party, said meanwhile he expected MPs from his party to
reject the deal in Tuesday’s vote.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London described Monday as a
day of "frenetic diplomacy" ahead of Tuesday’s parliamentary
The Irish government’s cabinet also held an unscheduled
meeting Monday evening to discuss Brexit as events unfolded in
The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland had been the
major stumbling block on the quest to find a Brexit deal
agreeable to both Britain, Ireland and the EU.
British PM May faces Brexit vote defeat as hopes fade of
by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) --
is a last-minute breakthrough, British Prime Minister Theresa
May’s under-fire Brexit deal faces almost certain defeat in
Britain’s House of Commons on Tuesday.
With just 24 hours before a crucial debate starts in the
famous chamber at Westminster, the only hope of avoiding that
expected defeat is a change of heart by European Union (EU)
officials on the so-called Irish border issue.
However, the indications from Brussels are that no
significant moves will be forthcoming from the EU.
Negotiators from both sides remained in Brussels Monday to
see if there is any way of resolving the impasse over the border
issue that has led to the deal hitting a brick wall.
The way events in London unravel in the next few days could
determine whether May will survive at 10 Downing Street,
according to media speculation.
The EU has insisted a so-called "backstop" is necessary as a
way of ensuring there will be no hard border between
British-controlled Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic if no
permanent trading deal is found.
Many politicians in Britain fear that implementing the
backstop provision at some stage could lock Britain into
indefinitely having to follow EU rules on customs and trading.
In January, May presented her Brexit deal to the House of
Commons and it was beaten by 230 votes, the biggest ever defeat
in British political history.
The expectations are that on Tuesday May could lose again by
as many as 150 votes.
But a defeat would plunge Britain into unchartered waters
with Brexit day looming on March 29.
May’s government confirmed Monday its intention to put its
Brexit deal to the House of Commons on Tuesday, but it remained
unclear what the wording will say.
Media reports in London Monday said that a number of caveats
may be added to the motion May will present in the hope of
winning over more MPs.
The Daily Telegraph said May met her senior aides Monday to
decide whether to replace Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal with
a conditional motion, which would set out the kind of Brexit
deal that would be acceptable to Parliament.
Political commentators say that while changing the wording
might help mitigate the damage, the vote still faced a mountain
MPs were also, said some reports, likely to react with anger
if May attempts to change her promise of a meaningful vote on
her Brexit deal.
Downing Street has confirmed that if May loses the vote on
Tuesday, MPs will still get to vote on a no-deal Brexit, and
then on extending Article 50 of the Treaty on the EU, which
began the UK’s withdrawal.
In a radio interview Monday, Conservative MP George Freeman
described the situation as a very, very serious crisis. He said
Theresa May should quit as prime minster after Brexit.
Freeman said: "I hope the prime minister can get withdrawal
through and then I do think we need to choose a new leader for a
new generation with a new vision of a conservatism that can make
sense of Brexit and re-inspire and reunite the nation."
tread water as British MPs prepare to vote
Brexit Vote Looming, Theresa May Secures E.U. Help
Minister is facing a critical vote in
U.K. Parliament on Tuesday