May wins Brexit legally binding assurances from EU ahead of crucial votes

Darnell Taylor
March 13, 2019

"Now is the time to come together, to back this improved Brexit deal, and to deliver on the instruction of the British people", May said on Monday night.

The assessments left May's deal hanging by a thread.

UK's chief legal advisor Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the extra assurances won by May do "reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained" in the backstop if talks on the two sides' future relationship broke down due to "bad faith" by the EU. "We are committed to ratifying this deal before 29 March", the spokesperson said, adding that it was now for Britain's MPs to set the course for the next steps for Brexit.

The Newton Abbot MP told BBC Radio 4's PM: "The reality is we've taken nearly two years to get here and I can not see that in these twilight hours, suddenly something is going to come back and is going to satisfy concerns that I have - which I share with, I'm sure, many members of the public and many members of the ERG (European Research Group)".

That appeared unlikely after Cox's assessment.

The U.K. and the European Union have agreed to "legally binding changes" to the European Union withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday night.

"Allowing the public to vote and giving them a final say is quite simply the only credible solution we now have available".

The Attorney General will publish his legal opinion before the vote. It continues to push for a general election, with the party's shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisting to the BBC that a Labour deal - that would involve the United Kingdom remaining in a customs union and close alignment to the single market - could be agreed within "weeks". "The government's strategy is now in tatters". Sterling rose 1.5 per cent against the dollar and to a near two-year high against the euro. Voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face.

German EU affairs minister Michael Roth, called it "a far-reaching compromise". "There is no alternative".

On the Irish border, the British government said it would not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving from the Irish Republic to the British province of Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit, stressing the plan was temporary and unilateral.

Oil edges higher on cuts to Saudi exports
Falih said Chinese demand was breaking records month after month and estimated the country would breach 11 million bpd this year. Traders also pointed to the political and economic crisis in OPEC-member Venezuela as a driver for oil prices.

Reports suggested that European Union ambassadors were told the PM came close to signing off a text with Mr Juncker on Sunday evening, which would have given new assurances on the UK's right to seek arbitration if Brussels was not using its "best endeavours" to seek a trade deal which would bring the backstop to an end.

The main opposition Labour Party also said it would reject the deal.

It comes after the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement was rejected by 149 votes in the House of Commons last night.

"I have got to say that if you look at what the prime minister has said so far it seems to fall short of what she, herself, had promised".

In remarks released late Tuesday, Maas said the U.K. Parliament's decision to reject the deal "brings a no-deal scenario ever closer".

"We have secured legal changes", May said in a late night news conference in Strasbourg beside Juncker, 17 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29.

The embattled British leader is scrambling to formalise changes to her divorce deal, which was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs in January, in the hope of winning a new vote on the agreement in parliament on Tuesday (March 12).

"I think that an important offer has again been made to Britain, and now it is of course for Britain to respond to these offers", she said. They are likely to agree, as long as Britain leaves before elections to the European parliament in late May. If "no deal" is off the table, 14 March will see British lawmakers vote for the delay of Brexit.

"Today is our Hotel California moment".

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