Brexit: EU says chance of no deal has 'significantly increased'

Commons Speaker John Bercow

Commons Speaker John Bercow

MPs in the lower chamber House of Commons on Tuesday voted 391 to 242 against May's plan, fewer than 24 hours after she claimed to have won meaningful concessions from Brussels over the deal's contentious so-called "backstop" clause.

May said documents to be added to the deal provided "legally binding" assurances that the backstop would be temporary and that Britain would have a way to get out of it if the European Union failed to negotiate in good faith.

She said Conservative Party MPs would not be whipped to support or oppose the no-deal motion on Wednesday evening (Thursday morning AEDT), although she herself preferred to leave "in an orderly way, with a deal". "Just like the referendum, there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides", she said.

Even if a vote passes to extend the deadline, it's not guaranteed to happen because. "This now sets into motion a sequence of events that will likely see the the United Kingdom return to Brussels and seek an extension to Article 50 beyond the 29th March deadline", said David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB Trading.

But Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said Brussels had done "everything it can" and must now brace for the possibility of a messy divorce. We don't know for sure.

"We are not preparing for, we do not want a general election: our position is unchanged", the spokesman said. "Unfortunately, the Gordian Brexit node remains unresolved", added Schweitzer. No one can doubt her tenacity and staying power. "The Prime Minister listened to the concerns I raised on behalf of my constituents and acted upon them".

Typical of the exasperation felt in Brussels, one European Union diplomat said: "What credibility does she (May) have left?" To be fair, her inheritance from David Cameron was pretty lousy - a divided party tasked with delivering a major political action that had barely been planned for at all.

Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Speaker John Bercow will select a number for debate in the House of Commons, and it is not expected that all will be forced to a vote. The EU has, from day one, been reasonably accommodating and consistent in its vision for where negotiations would lead. May said lawmakers would be free to follow their consciences rather than party lines.

And would she take this latest and perhaps greatest diplomatic and political humiliation on the chin, as she has so many others, and battle on. "So I would say that the extension, realistically, has to be a year", he told the Associated Press news agency, referring to the EP elections in May. As set out in a Constitution Unit report in October the various steps to a referendum would take around five months - allowing for the legislation to clear parliament, for the Electoral Commission to test the referendum question, and for the campaign period itself.

Addendum: By the way, Scotland now wants another independence referendum if a no-deal Brexit ends up taking place.

Thirty-two months of negotiations resulted in two humiliating defeats for Theresa May in Parliament. And with her rivals once again sensing blood in the water, many people probably wouldn't hold it against her if she just made a decision to abandon ship like so many before her and get a head start on the lucrative lecturing circuit that has served some of her predecessors so well.

At a late-night news conference Monday in Strasbourg, France, May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced changes created to overcome lawmakers' concerns about provisions created to ensure the border between EU member Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland remains open after Brexit. It would be foolish to assume that this is not honest. What makes their intransigence all the more useless is their collective inability to produce any worthwhile negotiating alternative.

The border has been open and unguarded for 20 years since the Good Friday agreement ended the armed conflict in Northern Ireland, but that status will be much more hard to maintain once Britain is no longer part of the EU. He further noted that after this move, the European Union has to begin actively preparing for Brexit. "Our "no-deal" preparations are now more important than ever before", Barnier said in a tweet.

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