UK's May seeks Brexit deal changes, while EU stands firm

UK's May seeks Brexit deal changes, while EU stands firm

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers Questions, Jan. 23, 2019 in London, England.

The House of Commons was voting on competing Brexit proposals that have been submitted by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators since Parliament rejected May's divorce deal two weeks ago, leaving Britain lurching toward a cliff-edge "no-deal" departure from the bloc on March 29. Any proposals approved by parliament on those days would not be binding on the government but would be politically hard to ignore.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the amendment offered the best chance for Britain to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal on future relations.

Proposed by Conservative lawmaker John Baron, it states that parliament will not approve a Brexit deal which includes a Northern Ireland backstop lasting any longer than six months. "But in the two years since this House voted to trigger [the European Union exit clause], the European Union has made concessions in many areas of the negotiations where people said no ground would ever be given".

Parliamentary experts also warned that MPs' efforts may be unconstitutional.

But asked about the Malthouse plan, Dr Fox said only: "There are all sorts of ideas being put out, but Parliament can not take a decision unless it is on the order paper and it is not on the order paper".

Amid the bitter wrangling Queen Elizabeth II appeared to make a rare foray into politics last week, emphasising in a speech the need for Britons to come together to "seek out the common ground".

The backstop would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU in order to remove the need for checks along the border between the UK's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Britain leaves the bloc.

The pound then sunk even further by almost 0.7% as a number of other amendments were voted on - particularly MPs backing a call for the Brexit deal to be passed if backstop removed.

May reportedly told Tory MPs at a Monday meeting the government will support the measure and would order them to follow suit.

Ireland would take economic hit in no-deal Brexit, says Irish minister
She is hoping that if she can show Brussels that the Commons would back her deal without the backstop, they might think again. May's deal two weeks ago, leaving Britain lurching toward a "no-deal" departure on March 29.

He said the proposal would give "enormous firepower" to the PM when she returns to Brussels, by setting out clearly what the UK Parliament is ready to back.

There is no guarantee any of the frontrunner amendments will pass. She threw her weight behind a separate proposal to effectively rewrite the agreement she spent 18 months negotiating.

It's far from certain that the amendment will win support from a majority in the House of Commons when it comes to a vote later Tuesday.

"If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit".

She will open Tuesday's debate in the Commons by setting out the government's backing for an amendment tabled by senior Tory backbencher Graham Brady, which seeks to replace the Irish backstop with "alternative arrangements".

Ms Weyand said the ratification of the EU-UK deal would build the trust necessary to build a new relationship, but ruled out bowing to British calls to set a time limit to the backstop beyond which the insurance policy would lapse.

This amendment passed by 317 to 301 votes with the support of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and the European Research Group, a strongly Brexiteer contingent of the Conservative party.

A source in French President Emmanuel Macron's office said Tuesday: "The withdrawal agreement and the backstop are not renegotiable".

May's spokesman said that she told ministers that the amendment "sets out in no uncertain terms our continued commitment to arrangements which avoid a hard border", and "gives us scope for a new discussion with the European Union about how best we achieve that".

Amendment J: Proposed by lawmakers from Labour, May's Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, this calls on the government to request an extension to the Article 50 deadline if a deal has not been approved by February 26.

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