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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 March 2019

Brexit talks deadlocked in judgement week for UK

British PM Theresa May sought changes to deal but has come away empty-handed

British leader Theresa May, pictured with her husband Philip, faced a series of high-profile rebuffs from senior EU officials about her Brexit plans. Getty
British leader Theresa May, pictured with her husband Philip, faced a series of high-profile rebuffs from senior EU officials about her Brexit plans. Getty

UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces a second heavy defeat over her Brexit plans on Tuesday after officials admitted that talks with the EU were deadlocked.

After a crushing loss in Parliament in January by 230 votes, Mrs May promised MPs she would seek changes to an agreement negotiated with the EU that would allow her blueprint to win majority support.

But after a series of high-profile rebuffs from senior EU officials, Downing Street admitted that talks were deadlocked and a conversation with European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday night failed to lead to a breakthrough.

She had promised to take her amended plan before Parliament again on Tuesday but without any substantive changes, critics warned that she is in line for another major defeat amid growing signs of rebellion against her leadership.

Some senior members of her party said on Sunday that she should postpone the vote rather than risk another damaging reverse.

If the vote goes ahead and Mrs May loses, there will be further votes on Wednesday on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal in place. The following day could see a further vote on whether to ask the EU to delay the whole process.

Many British MPs claim her agreement could leave the country subject to EU rules indefinitely and split Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK which would have a land border with the EU – from the rest of the country.

But Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned on Sunday that a delay could lead to the potential for Brexit to be abandoned altogether if advocates for a second vote on leaving the EU had their way.

He said anti-Brexit MPs wanted to kill Mrs May’s deal, delay Brexit and then have a second vote to reverse the 2016 referendum result. "Within three weeks, those people could have two of those three things," he told the BBC.

Prominent Brexit campaigner Michael Gove, a senior member of Mrs May’s Cabinet, urged MPs to vote for her deal on Tuesday.

"I hope that everyone who believes in our democracy – in the importance of delivering Brexit, but also in the critical need to unite our country – will come behind the prime minister's deal this week," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

Updated: March 11, 2019 04:32 PM

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