UK, EU announce change to Brexit deal ahead of key vote

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 14, 2019

The European Research Group said the verdict of its "Star Chamber" set up to analyse the changes was that they did not deliver legally binding changes to the Brexit deal or the Irish backstop, and did not provide an exit mechanism over which Britain had control.

But Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said in a written opinion the assurances left the legal risk of the United Kingdom being locked in the bloc's orbit after Brexit, the most controversial issue for Brexit-supporting lawmakers. As a result, GBP has dropped and risk appetite more generally has tumbled.

British Prime Minister Theresa May faced continued opposition to her European Union divorce deal Tuesday despite announcing what she described as "legally binding" changes in hopes of winning parliamentary support for the agreement.

Pro-Brexit UK lawmakers said they would read the fine print and wait for the judgment of Britain's attorney general before deciding how to vote on Tuesday.

The so-called "backstop" solution for the Irish border - created to avert sectarian violence from returning to Britain's Northern Ireland - is opposed by more ardent Brexit backers.

Due to the fact that much of the debate around May's deal hinges on the backstop between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, many commentators have pointed out that if the DUP support the deal, then many within the Conservative party will follow suit. If you missed it, here's a recording.

Brexiteers from within her own party and the DUP have refused to comment if they feel the changes she has secured will be enough for them to vote in favour of the deal before they take full legal advice on the changes.

"Nothing has really changed, and it is still a bad deal so unable to vote for this".

Andrea Leadsom, who manages government business in parliament, insisted however that "it is still our intention, if at all possible, to leave the European Union on March 29 with a good deal".

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Anti-Brexit, remain in the European Union supporters hold an EU and British union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, March 13, 2019.

If that happens, MPs will vote on Thursday on extending article 50 which triggered the UK's exit process from the EU.

In a written legal opinion, Cox said the United Kingdom could still not extract itself from the terms of the divorce deal unilaterally, a key demand of pro-Brexit British politicians.

May rushed to Strasbourg on Monday for last-minute talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in a bid to salvage the Brexit deal. It pared losses as May's defeat was less than the 230-vote margin she suffered in January, while the fact she made Wednesday's planned ballot a free vote meant resignations were seen as less of a risk by the market.

MPs have voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit in any scenario.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Cox had confirmed that "no significant changes" had been secured in two months of negotiations and the Government's strategy was "in tatters".

Ireland's leader, Leo Varadkar, said the developments were positive and that the deal agreed Monday night was "complementary" to the withdrawal agreement.

Mrs May began her day by huddling with top team members in preparation for her final attempt in parliament to sway sceptical MP's hearts and minds.

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