Government agrees 'legally binding' Brexit deal changes after PM's last-minute Strasbourg dash

Government agrees 'legally binding' Brexit deal changes after PM's last-minute Strasbourg dash

The UK parliament has again rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal after she secured legally binding assurances from Brussels on the controversial Irish "backstop" - but the changes weren't enough to placate lawmakers.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said last-minute new agreements "reduce the risk" of Britain being "indefinitely and involuntarily" held in the so-called Irish border backstop.

The latest pact stressed the "legal force" and "binding character" of the withdrawal agreement. Thank you very much for joining us. "Because there will be no third chance", Juncker warned the legislators who will vote on Tuesday.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis welcomed the requirement to make alternative arrangements for the backstop, the date and the worldwide arbitration, but said Cox's opinion would be key. The Irish backstop is the insurance policy that the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, will remain as it is, with no border checks.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Brexiteer European Research Group (ERG), said he could also be prepared to back to deal if Cox, the DUP and a committee of ERG MPs lent it their support.

He was responding to Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who had tweeted: "A Lawyer contact tells me that the legal world is aware that the Attorney General said NO last night to the validity of Mrs May's "new European Union deal"...he been told to go away and find a way to say YES: A cohort of lawyers has been summoned". But the changes appear to fall well short of Brexiteers' demands for a unilateral British exit mechanism from the backstop.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has dismissed as "bollocks" a claim he was ordered to change his mind on Theresa May's revised Brexit deal.

The late-night developments prompted a series of reactions as MPs and ministers prepared to debate on May's improved package to be introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday, with voting scheduled in the evening.

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Juncker said: "There will be no new negotiations".

A favourable vote would clear the way for Britain to leave the European Union on March 29 - almost three years after Britain backed withdrawal from the bloc in a referendum.

Top EU officials warned that the defeat had increased the chances of a chaotic "no-deal" British exit, which could mean major disruption for businesses and people in the United Kingdom and numerous 27 remaining EU countries.

So without some change to that, she was never going to convince those Tory rebels to vote for her deal, and now with these assurances from the European Union the PM has more of a chance of passing that in around 12 hours time through the House of Commons.

STEVE CANNANE: Well of those 230 votes, 118 were Tory MPs and she's got to shift them. As a result, she can not be forced from office for a year.

May has been working frantically to save her deal, speaking by phone to eight European Union national leaders since Friday, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The U.K. won't be represented in the European Parliament after it quits the EU; its seats already have been given to other countries to fill in the elections.

"It would be very hard for the prime minister to stay in office for very much longer", Morgan told the BBC.

Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer had warned earlier that "nothing had changed" from the first deal agreed in November a year ago. Does it wish to revoke (Brexit-triggering) Article 50?

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