Andrea Leadsom hints ‘meaningful vote’ may happen days before Brexit departure

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Britain's opposition Labour Party, in conjunction with Conservative rebels, is planning to try to seize control this week of Brexit negotiations by forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to bring her previously rejected Brexit deal to yet another vote in the House of Commons before the end of the month.

Just 45 days to the March 29 Brexit deadline, the prime minister asked for support in her bid to seek changes to the Irish backstop in a vote on Thursday.

Another day, another non-statement on Brexit from Theresa May.

And she pledged to return on February 26 with a further statement triggering another debate and votes the following day if she has not secured a deal by that date.

There have been fears from the House of Commons that PM May is deliberately delaying progress.

In the letter published by the local media Monday, May said she wanted the two parties to discuss "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop, a commitment to avoid a hard border.


"We are in danger of drifting into no deal by accident", she said.

The British government has agreed to allow citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein already living in Britain to remain after Brexit even if the country leaves the European Union without a deal. The U.K. government canceled a £13.8 million ($18 million) contract with Seaborne Freight, a startup company that doesn't own any ships, to deliver backup ferry service in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He was due to visit his counterparts in Beijing on February 18 to discuss a series of issues affecting China-U.K. economic and financial relations. "She is playing for time and playing with people's jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry".

So, in practice, if she wants to push this vote later, and later, then only to the very last minute (and remember the European Union doesn't want to budge until then), that bit of legislation might not be a block, because if MPs approve it, she can get round it.

Is the Prime Minister really prepared to risk people's livelihoods, jobs and investment in a vain attempt to push her deeply flawed deal through Parliament?

Mrs Leadsom said: "I think she's making quite clear that what Corbyn is demanding is actually not as good as what the Prime Minister's deal is offering".

Mrs May told the Commons Tuesday afternoon: "The talks are at a crucial stage, and we all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this house requires, and deliver Brexit on time".


Adding, "By getting the changes we need to the backstop; by protecting and enhancing workers' rights and environmental protections and by enhancing the role of parliament in the next phase of negotiations, I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support".

In her response to the Labour leader's letter setting out his conditions to support a Brexit deal, Mrs May said: "It is good to see that we agree that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union with a deal and that the urgent task at hand is to find a deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, can command support in Parliament and can be negotiated with the EU - not to seek an election or second referendum".

The 21-day period is usually meant to give parliament time to study an agreement but it will already have had plenty of time to do so as the deal was reached past year, May said.

The Prime Minister questioned Mr Corbyn's key call for the United Kingdom to remain in a customs union with Brussels but offered concessions in other areas and said she wanted talks between Labour and Tory teams "as soon as possible".

He said leaving, without either a transition agreement or greater certainty over a future long-term trade deal with the European Union, would mean "no closure" for the country, leaving the political arguments to rage on long after Britain has formally left the bloc, with which it is deeply integrated.


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