March 11 (UPI) — British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday lawmakers will go forward with a vote on her proposed deal to depart the European Union.
May said the vote will occur Tuesday, even as she continues to speak with the EU on points of the agreement that have been rejected by British lawmakers — most notably the Ireland backstop.
May visited Strasbourg, France, Monday for last-minute discussions with EU officials that could win lawmakers’ approval during Tuesday’s vote.
Last week, the EU gave Britain a 48-hour deadline to submit acceptable changes to the previously agreed-to deal.
The often-postponed votes will define whether Britain leaves the European Union under May’s long-negotiated but criticized withdrawal agreement, whether it rejects EU withdrawal without a deal or votes to postpone the departure until June. The latter could lead to a vote of no confidence for May and the fall of her government. Delaying the exit would also require unanimous approval from all other 27 EU member nations.
Unless there is a postponement, Britain is scheduled to leave on March 29.
British lawmakers will vote for the second time on May’s deal Tuesday. Parliament rejected it on the first vote in January, and will likely reject it again because May’s been unable to convince the EU to guarantee Britain won’t be trapped in a legally-binding customs arrangement with the alliance. Remaining within a customs agreement would put Britain in a position in which customs decisions are made without London’s involvement, and would prevent it from striking deals with individual countries.
A free-trade deal, similar to the arrangement Britain is leaving, would also force the return of customs stations on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom. Experts worry that customs stations on the sensitive border, known as the Irish backstop, could provoke violence.
If Tuesday’s vote is voted down, May is expected to ask to leave the EU with no deal at all — a prospect most lawmakers feel would harm the British economy — or ask for the delay.
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Monday May’s deal is the same one they rejected in January.