Published: Thu, December 13, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Theresa May postpones Brexit deal vote, reports say

Theresa May postpones Brexit deal vote, reports say

British Prime Minister Theresa May, admitting her Brexit withdrawal plan would be defeated in parliament "by a significant margin", postponed Monday a vote that had been scheduled for the following day.

If the parliament approves the Brexit bill on Tuesday's vote, that would pave the way for Britain to avoid a no-deal departure from the EU.

Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng denied there was a possibility that the party might split over the withdrawal deal, but conceded on BBC Radio 5 Live that "one or two" more lawmakers might quit.

The strongest opposition to May's deal centers around the so-called backstop, an insurance policy created to prevent a hard border between European Union member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland. This is essential to prevent a renewal of violence in the region.

An unscheduled statement from new Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay was also to be rushed into the House of Commons, entitled "EU Exit - Article 50" - but the substance of his statement was not immediately clear.

While EU diplomats have said they could consider helping May with "cosmetic" changes to the non-binding political agreement that accompanies the deal, the legally binding text of the exit deal itself would be off limits to renegotiation. "As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario".

The clock is ticking with Britain due to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019.

The drastic move, as May faced defeat by up to 100 of her own MPs, is a humiliation for the prime minister, whose aides and cabinet ministers had emphatically denied there was any prospect of pulling the vote, even as late as Monday morning.

Michael Gove, the most prominent Brexit campaigner in the British government, said the court's ruling "doesn't alter either the referendum vote or the clear intention of the government to leave on March 29".

The highest court in the United Kingdom - the Supreme Court - will rule on Thursday on a challenge brought over Brexit legislation passed by the Scottish devolved administration.

Pressed on when the vote would be held, May simply said under existing legislation it had to be held by January 21, 2019.

But there is no agreement about what a better deal would look like.

Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn was quoted as saying that May's Brexit deal is "so disastrous" that her government "has taken the desperate step of delaying its own vote at the eleventh hour".

"In advance of the European Council I will go to see my counterparts in other member states and the leadership of the Council and the Commission", she said.

If May's government lost a confidence vote, it would have two weeks to overturn the result with a new vote by lawmakers.

This provides encouragement to supporters of a so-called People's Vote, who are seeking a second referendum now that the costs and benefits of Brexit are better understood.

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