May to persuade MPs for third time for Brexit deal
BRUSSELS, Mar 15: The British government will have a third attempt next week at getting MPs to approve the revived Brexit deal agreed between London and Brussels.
Following a vote in the British parliament on Thursday, to seek an extension to the Brexit process from March 29 to June 30, Prime Minister Theresa May will bring the withdrawal agreement back before MPs.
The deal is aimed at ensuring a smooth exit from the European Union, to be followed by a transition period that could last until 2022.
The 585-page withdrawal agreement was voted down overwhelmingly by the British parliament in January, and again on Tuesday.
However, the government is hoping that the looming deadline will persuade many MPs to change their minds.
Brexit hardliners have objected in particular to the agreement's "backstop" provisions on the Irish border, which they fear could lock Britain indefinitely into a customs union with the EU.
After more talks with the EU, May on Monday said she had secured "legally binding" changes to the Irish border issue.
But her government's top law official, a respected lawyer, on Tuesday ruled that while the likelihood of being stuck in EU trade arrangements had reduced, risks from its most contentious legal points remained "unchanged".
The other main elements in the agreement are the protection of citizens' rights and Britain's final bill to the EU.
A transition period lasting until December 31, 2020 would preserve the status quo and allow time for Britain and the EU to negotiate their future relations.
It would also allow governments, businesses and individual citizens to adapt to life after Brexit.
The only major difference during that period is that Britain would no longer be represented in EU institutions. -AFP