Anti-Brexit Britons hit Irish pub in Brussels to watch vote

13 Mars, 2019, 11:08 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and Theresa May are seen arriving to address the media

It is nearly certain that an unchanged withdrawal agreement would be defeated in the Commons, with a large eurosceptic faction of the Conservative party itself and the Demo¬cratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, all set to say nay.

Some British lawmakers warned their Brexit-backing colleagues that rejecting the deal could lead to Britain's departure being postponed indefinitely, because a delay would give momentum to opponents of Brexit. If that is rejected as well, a vote on extending the Article 50 period will be held on Thursday.

Tory MP George Freeman said Mrs May should quit after Brexit rather than have a "panicked change of leader now", telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "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 conservativism that can make sense of Brexit and reinspire and reunite the nation".

"May has boxed herself even deeper into a corner, it seems the second meaningful vote will go ahead on Tuesday but it also seems like it won't be the last meaningful vote on this", one European Union official said.

MPs voted by 391 to 242 against the deal, despite the Prime Minister's assurance that new agreements reached with Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg would ensure the United Kingdom can not be trapped in the controversial backstop arrangement indefinitely.

EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier said Tuesday that the EU has done everything it could to advance the treaty on the conditions for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the bloc.

May has long courted the party's support because she needs its 10 votes to win a majority in Parliament.

The legal judgement on the instrument issued by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox today noted: "T$3 he legally binding provisions of the joint instrument and the content of the unilateral declaration reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained within the protocol's provisions at least in so far as that situation had been brought about by the bad faith or want of best endeavours of the European Union".

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If she loses that vote, she has said lawmakers will get a vote on Wednesday on whether to leave without a deal and, if they reject that, then a vote on whether to ask for a limited delay to Brexit. The fall means the pound has given up all the gains in made after May claimed she had secured "legally binding" changes to the withdrawal agreement.

German EU affairs minister Michael Roth, called it "a far-reaching compromise".

The DUP s support is crucial if the deal is to pass the House of Commons.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that he was "pleased with the agreement" and implored that British legislators approve the deal. "There is no alternative". "Thanks to the decision that the House has made this evening, they are choices that must now be faced".

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called it "the last chance to avoid a no-deal".

Both Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, and Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve expressed skepticism about whether May had won substantive concessions.

The clash came soon after UK Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox confirmed that the legal risk from the controversial Irish backstop "remains unchanged", leading to hard-Brexiteers from within May's own Conservative Party refusing to back the so-called "improved" divorce arrangement, leaving Britain's exit from the European Union still precariously poised ahead of the March 29 Brexit deadline.

Lidington spoke before May and Juncker emerged from their talks.

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