Breaking: British lawmakers overwhelmingly reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a second time, plunging UK into further political uncertainty with departure date from EU European just 17 days away. Vote was 391 to 242…
It’s a virtual ‘tug-of war’ in plain sight for the country as it tries to figure out how and if it will pull out of the European Union….
Prime Minister Theresa May presented a Brexit deal with some new add-on language to a skeptical Parliament for a landmark vote on Tuesday, but the British leader faced strong headwinds, as crucial blocs of lawmakers signaled they will not support her withdrawal agreement.
Before May rose to speak, Britain’s attorney general warned lawmakers that May’s hard-fought changes might not go far enough — an assessment that increased the odds that her Brexit deal will fail again and that the nation won’t depart on schedule on March 29.
May told the Parliament that she had secured “legally binding” assurances they sought that would guarantee that Britain would not be “indefinitely” tied to E.U. rules and regulations, even if the sides cannot agree in the future on how else to keep the border on the island of Ireland free and open.
She said this was a good Brexit deal for Britain: it took back control of borders, immigration and would allow the U.K. to seek new trade deals around the world, including with the United States.
“If this deal is not passed tonight, Brexit might be lost,” May warned lawmakers in the House of Commons, her voice croaking with fatigue.
But the opinion from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was potentially devastating….
This deal is only about the terms of departure and does not include what the future relationship between Britain and the E.U. will look like. It sets out the $50 billion divorce settlement that Britain will pay; it allows for a two-year transition period, when things will remain essentially as they are now in terms of trade, migration, security and travel; and it seeks a guarantee to preserve the free and open border on the island of Ireland.
It is that guarantee — the Irish backstop — that is at the heart of the impasse. Many British lawmakers fear that it would limit their country’s sovereignty, requiring them to continue to abide by European rules and regulations on customs and trade forever, without having any say. Some had hoped for a sunset clause, or a provision allowing Britain to unilaterally terminate the backstop.
E.U. leaders on Monday offered fresh pledges that they would seek all possible ways to avoid invoking the politically toxic plan. They wanted to give May a fig leaf, allowing her to say she had received concessions and win over wavering British lawmakers ahead of Tuesday’s vote. But the assurances were framed as the E.U.’s final offer…..
Battling a sore throat after late night talks with the EU, the prime minister urged MPs to back her “improved deal” or risk “no Brexit at all”.
But some leading Tory Brexiteers and the DUP, who keep her government in power, have rejected the deal.
They say the legal assurances secured by the PM are not enough to prevent the UK being tied permanently to the EU.
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Sir Bill Cash, a leading member of the European Research Group, said: “In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the government’s motion today.”….