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Theresa May told to delay Brexit vote

Theresa May told to delay Brexit vote

May has repeatedly said that if lawmakers reject her deal with Brussels, which would see Britain exit the European Union on March 29 with continued close ties, the only alternatives are leaving without a deal or reversing Brexit.

The Brexit legal advice was requested by Starmer at the end of November on the grounds that MPs - who must vote on the Chequers deal in just six days' time - are "entitled to know full legal implications of what the Prime Minister has signed up to".

She insisted a backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border in Ireland was inevitable in any deal, including "Norway" and "Canada" options being proposed by some as alternatives to her plan.

Mr Brady's comments came as Theresa May has made a last-ditch attempt to rally MPs behind her Brexit deal after suffering the historic humiliation of seeing her government found in contempt of Parliament.

The advice, from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the country's top law officer, examines the legal effect of the proposed backstop arrangement, or Northern Ireland protocol, which is a fallback measure created to maintain an invisible border in Ireland.

May signalled that she was determined to plough on with a vote and suggested a "parliamentary lock" on the Irish backstop could persuade more MPs to back it.

"But if under the current rules we can not get an election, all options must be on the table".

But Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, has told her to think again as more than 100 Tory MPs have publicly slammed the deal - with many angry the United Kingdom could be locked into the Northern Ireland backstop indefinitely.

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Asked on Today about Labour's stance on the issue given the Advocate General's opinion, she said: "It can't be ruled out because the clock is ticking".

"The vote will take place on Tuesday as planned", May's spokesperson said.

Parliament is midway through a five-day debate on the Brexit deal, ahead of the crunch vote that will define Britain's departure from the European Union and could determine May's own future as leader. The House of Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, also told parliament the vote would go ahead on December 11.

Meanwhile supporters of the beleaguered PM published a plan to reduce the chances of the Northern Ireland backstop coming into force - in the hope it would help the deal pass in parliament.

"In the implementation period, we still have to negotiate the terms, but there will be concerns about the fact that they would require, I'm sure they would require, some more money to be paid, for example".

MPs backed the amendment - put forward by Dominic Grieve - by 321 votes to 299 as they headed into five days of debates on the Brexit withdrawal agreement ahead of the crucial vote on Tuesday next week.

Cox warns that the backstop arrangement contained within the withdrawal agreement would "endure indefinitely", a phrase which has enraged Brexiteers who say it would represent an incomplete Brexit.

Green MP Caroline Lucas questioned Mr Cox's claim earlier this week that the advice should not be published "in the national interest".


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