United Kingdom lawmakers to vote on requesting delay as Brexit day nears

Clay Curtis
March 14, 2019

Does it wish to revoke (Brexit-triggering) Article 50? Does it want to hold a second referendum?

Failure could potentially leave the country crashing out with no deal, sparking shockwaves through global markets and possible question marks over May's leadership.

"Today is the day", Downing Street quoted May as telling her Cabinet.

"The joint instrument also gives a legal commitment that whatever replaces the backstop does not need to replicate it".

A spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, representing EU governments, said Britain would have to provide a "credible justification" for any request for a delay.

May said the government would not instruct her own party's MPs how to vote, as would normally be the case. "Instead the United Kingdom spiralled out of control".

Many British MPs object to the backstop on the grounds that it could leave Britain subject to European Union rules indefinitely or cleave Northern Ireland away from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The other is a joint statement about the United Kingdom and EU's future relationship, which commits to replacing the backstop with an alternative by December 2020. They are likely to agree to an extension as long as there was a prospect of a deal being reached - or a referendum or general election which could change the political landscape at Westminster.

However, Cox said "I also advised that in the specific case that situation was due to the EU's want of good faith and best endeavors, because of the difficulties of proof and the egregious nature of the conduct that would be required to establish a breach by the European Union of those obligations, it would be highly unlikely that the United Kingdom could take advantage of the remedies available to it for such a breach under the Withdrawal Agreement". Picture: PA What changes has Theresa May agreed on the withdrawal agreement?

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"The deal that MPs voted on in January was not strong enough in making that clear and legally binding changes were needed to set that right", she said.

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".

"However in our view sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time".

But Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said in a written opinion the assurances were legally binding but the risk remained "unchanged" that the United Kingdom would have no lawful means of exiting the backstop, aimed at avoiding controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

Other EU nations had urged British politicians to seize the chance to back the deal and ensure an orderly departure.

Extending the timeframe for Brexit requires approval from all 27 remaining European Union member countries.

"Today is our Hotel California moment. If we don't check out tonight, we may never leave", tweeted Conservative legislator Bob Seely.

The pound sterling has soared to its highest figure in almost two years after Prime Minister Theresa May struck a Brexit breakthrough.

Leader o the opposition Jeremy Corbyn said: "This evening's agreement with the European Commission does not contain anything approaching the changes Theresa May promised Parliament, and whipped her MPs to vote for".

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