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United Kingdom attorney general challenges new Brexit deal

United Kingdom attorney general challenges new Brexit deal”

At a late-night news conference Monday in Strasbourg, France, May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced changes created to overcome lawmakers' concerns about provisions created to ensure the border between EU member Ireland and Britain's Northern Ireland remains open after Brexit.

Despite the newly negotiated terms, UK Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the "legal risk remains unchanged" over the UK's ability to exit the backstop agreement.

The PM may have been hoping to convince the 10 members of the Democratic Unionist Party - her confidence-and-supply partners in the Commons who, in normal cases, give her a working majority - to change their minds and vote for a deal.

May announced three documents - a joint instrument, a joint statement and a unilateral declaration - which she said were aimed at addressing the Irish backstop, the most contentious part of the divorce deal she agreed with the European Union in November.

It would also raise the possibility of postponing Brexit, after May promised to allow MPs a vote later this week on whether to accept a "no deal" scenario or request a short delay from the EU.

Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary
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Many Brexiteers fear the backstop, aimed at avoiding controls on the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, could trap the United Kingdom in the EU's orbit indefinitely.

The rejection of Theresa May's Brexit deal for a second time leaves the country in turmoil with just 17 days to the scheduled break from Brussels.

Earlier, Ms May has said she had secured "legally binding changes" from the European Union to overcome the Ireland backstop.

And will it be enough to convince the divided House of Commons to support Theresa May's deal?

But MPs rejected it in January by a massive 432 votes to 202, with many of May's Conservatives rebelling against her. The financial consequences of a no-deal Brexit are well versed and politicians must now act to prevent this from becoming a reality for businesses and households across the country.

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May, who said that she "profoundly rejects" the decision taken by the house, added that Tory MPs will be given a free vote on the no-deal motion on Wednesday.

The backstop aims to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if both sides fail to agree on a post-Brexit trade deal.

This would clarify that Britain believes there is nothing in the Brexit deal to stop it seeking to exit the backstop if the European Union fails to live up to its commitments to find a replacement.

"The British prime minister is traveling to Strasbourg this evening, I understand, to try to finalize an agreement, if that's possible, to be able to put that to a meaningful vote in Westminster tomorrow", Coveney said.

However, when asked by BBC radio whether the vote would go ahead as planned, Mr Gove said: "Yes, absolutely".

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"After three months of running down the clock, the prime minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the withdrawal agreement", he said.

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he hopes the Attorney General backs Mrs May's changes.

One of the changes includes a "legally binding joint instrument", which is created to reduce the risk that the United Kingdom can be deliberately held in the Northern Ireland "backstop" indefinitely.

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