Britain braces for make-or-break Brexit vote

Ryanair has said it is putting plans in place to protect itself from a no-deal Brexit and ensure it will remain majority EU-owned and controlled

Ryanair has said it is putting plans in place to protect itself from a no-deal Brexit and ensure it will remain majority EU-owned and controlled

With the deal all but dead, Parliament will probably vote to postpone Brexit later this week, and lawmakers - including some of May's own Cabinet - will likely try to maneuver to force the government to rip up its Brexit plans and start again.

The EU is unwilling to reopen the 585-page Brexit agreement, though it has offered what it says are legally binding promises that the backstop will not be permanent.

"We owe it to the country to provide them with a government that can govern", he said.

May flew to Strasbourg, France, to seek revisions, guarantees or other changes from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker that would persuade reluctant British legislators to back her withdrawal agreement with the EU, which they resoundingly rejected in January.

On Friday the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the United Kingdom will have the option to withdraw unilaterally from the customs union element of the backstop.

"The EU can not try to trap the United Kingdom in the backstop indefinitely, and that doing so would be an explicit breach of the legally binding commitments that both sides have agreed", Lidington said.

The prime minister has since been trying to negotiate changes to the agreement, in particular regarding the highly unpopular backstop provision, which is created to ensure a frictionless Irish border and would, as many fear, tie the United Kingdom to the EU customs union.

"The legal risk remains unchanged", Cox said.

"The prime minister has recklessly run down the clock, failed to effectively negotiate with the European Union and refused to find common ground for a deal parliament could support".

"We held talks over the weekend and the negotiations now are between the government in London and the parliament in London", Barnier said in Brussels ahead of Brexit discussions with envoys from the other 27 member states.

Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary
Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary

John Whittingdale, a Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmaker, said the attorney general's advice was "pretty terminal" for May's plan.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Commons: "After three months of running down the clock the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the Withdrawal Agreement".

The pound has slumped by more than 1 per cent against the dollar after the British Attorney General's assessment of Prime Minister Theresa May's reinforced expectations that lawmakers will reject it.

"MPs were clear that legal changes were needed to the backstop".

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

"There is only one certainty if we don't pass this vote tonight and that is that uncertainty will continue for our citizens and for our businesses", a hoarse May warned MPs in the House of Commons. "There is no alternative".

Opponents to her deal, especially in her Conservative Party, say they will never accept a deal that risks keeping Britain allied to European Union rules.

"In politics, sometimes you get a second chance". It is what we do with this second chance that counts.

The backstop aims to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if both sides fail to agree on a post-Brexit trade deal.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on March 29, but MPs rejected May's withdrawal deal by a large margin in January and demanded major changes.

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