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British Prime Minister Theresa May sees off more
Brexit challenges before her finally leaving Europe

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- A move that paves the way for Britain delaying its planned March 29 departure from Brussels won massive backing Wednesday night by 502 votes to just 20 in the House of Commons .

May’s government faced a number of backbench attempts to seize control of the Brexit process with five amendments tabled on a motion to move forward with Brexit.

The government accepted two of the amendments including one by Labor MP Yvette Cooper to lock May to a commitment made to MPs on Tuesday, including one which will allow parliament to delay Brexit if her deal is rejected when a meaningful vote takes place next month.

In a speech to the House of Commons Tuesday May promised a vote by MPs on rejecting a no-deal Brexit or voting to extend Article 50, the measure by which Britain is scheduled to leave on March 29.

Despite what May told MPs 24 hours earlier Cooper decided not to withdraw her amendment to ensure May kept to her promise to bring forward legislation to legally change the date of the UK’s departure from the bloc.

Instead Conservative party managers accepted Cooper’s amendment rather than resist it in the debate.

Speaker John Bercow had expected there would be no vote after the government announced it would accept Cooper’s amendment, and it was expected to be unchallenged in the voting.

In the event a vote was forced, with Cooper’s amendment winning by 502 votes to 20.

In an earlier vote of 240 against 323, a majority of 83, Britain’s main opposition party lost what was one of its top Brexit demands, keeping Britain in the European Customs Union along with alignment to the EU single market.

Labor is now expected to push for a second referendum to decide the fate of Britain’s membership of the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labor Party had indicated that his party will back another EU referendum if their plan was defeated.
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UPDATES:

Former foreign secretary urges UK ministers to stage Brexit mutiny

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Monday called on Prime Minister Theresa May’s senior ministers to stage a mutiny and reject her proposals for Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU).

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Johnson claimed May’s Brexit plan will effectively mean Britain remains as "captives" of the EU.

He said her plan would result in Britain’s trade policy being run by Brussels at least until 2022, warning it could be long beyond that date.

His attack comes just days after his younger brother Jo Johnson quit as a government minister in protest against May’s handling of the Brexit process. Recent media reports in London have speculated that more of May’s ministers are contemplating resigning.

The next few weeks are critical in the Brexit process if a future relationship deal is to be signed off before Britain leaves the bloc next March.

The Telegraph said May’s ministers have been called to a cabinet meeting scheduled on Tuesday at 10 Downing Street, but a final decision on her Brexit plans is now likely to be delayed while negotiations with Brussels continue.

It leaves May struggling to secure a November summit with European leaders to sign off the Brexit plans, increasing the risk that Britain will leave without a deal, the Telegraph commented.

Eurosceptic Boris Johnson wrote in his latest article: "I really can’t believe it, but this government seems to be on the verge of total surrender."

Johnson added: "We have agreed to become the punk of Brussels, signing up not just to their existing rulebook but to huge chunks of future regulation—even though we will have no say in drafting that legislation.

"We have agreed against all promises that the European Court of Justice will have a say in the enforcement of that regulation in the UK."

Johnson said: "The government has deliberately and flagrantly failed to prepare the UK to walk away from the talks, the better to be able to bludgeon MPs into voting for surrender."

Rival London newspaper, the Guardian, reported Monday that May’s Brexit plan is under siege from across her Conservative party as she attempts to overcome the final sticking points with Brussels in time to push it through a critical meeting of her cabinet ministers.

"As time runs out, leading Brexiters have told the prime minister they remain deeply opposed to her version of an exit mechanism that would prevent the UK unilaterally quitting a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapse," the newspaper added.

The Guardian added that May is also facing a growing rebellion from the remaining wing of her party with rumors that four more pro-Europe ministers are on the brink of resigning from her government.

Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned in July within days of a meeting of the Cabinet at May’s country retreat, Chequers, when the prime minister’s preferred Brexit deal was agreed upon.
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British minister George Eustice quits over Brexit delay vote

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- George Eustice on Thursday resigned as the British farming and fisheries minister over Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise to allow MPs a vote on a possible delayed Brexit if her deal is rejected.

Eustice, a member of parliament from the Conservative Party, said in his letter to the prime minister that "it is with tremendous sadness that I have decided to resign from the government following the decision this week to allow the postponement of our exit from the EU (European Union)."

The resignation came after the prime minister on Tuesday promised MPs a vote on delaying the UK’s departure from the EU or ruling out a no-deal Brexit, if they reject her deal in "a meaningful vote" in mid-March.

Eustice, a long Brexit supporter, said that he will take part in the parliamentary debate on Brexit as an independent.

"Since Parliament is now in direct control of events, I want to be free to participate in the critical debate that will take place in the weeks ahead," he said.

"I will vote for your Withdrawal Agreement when it returns to the House and I very much hope that the Attorney General succeeds in securing final changes so that others might too," he said, referring to the talks in Brussels between British Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and EU officials to revise the Irish backstop.

Eustice also said in his letter that he believed the European Commission had not conducted the negotiations "honourably".
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British Transport Minister Jo Johnson quits over Brexit delay vote

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- British Transport Minister Jo Johnson quit his job on Friday over Brexit, which he called for the public to have a say on.

The minister, who is brother of former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, said his country was barrelling toward an incoherent Brexit that is going to leave the people trapped in a subordinate relationship to the European Union (EU).

He said it was imperative to go back to the people and check they are content to proceed on this extraordinary basis.

Johnson, who voted to remain in the EU, said in a statement entitled Why I Cannot Support the Government’s Proposed Brexit Deal, that Brexit had divided the country, the political parties as well as the families.

Johnson said he would vote against the withdrawal agreement which the prime minister was trying to agree with the European Union, describing it as "a terrible mistake".

"Hopes for the ‘easiest trade deal in history’ have proved to be delusions," he said.

"Contrary to promises, there is in fact no deal at all on our future trading relationship with the EU which the government can present to the country."

Johnson stressed that given Brexit had "turned out to be so far from what was once promised, the democratic thing to do is to give the public the final say."

Boris Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, said on his twitter following his brother’s resignation, that "We may not have agreed about Brexit but we are united in dismay at the intellectually and politically indefensible of the UK position."

"This is not taking back control. It is a surrender of control. It does not remotely correspond to the mandate of the people in June 2016," he said.

A slew of resignations by the government secretaries and ministers have happened over the past months.

These high-level officials, including David Davis and Boris Johnson, said they decided to step down because of different stance with the Brexit deal, proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

British Prime Minister Theresa May postpones Brexit vote by March 12

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- The vote by British lawmakers on the Brexit deal will be postponed again by March 12, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters on the plane to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt for the European Union (EU)-Arab League (AL) summit on Sunday, May ruled out bringing the Brexit deal to Commons this week, local media said.

May was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "My team will be back in Brussels on Tuesday.

"As a result of that, we won’t bring a meaningful vote to parliament this week, but we will ensure that that happens by 12 March.

"But it’s still within our grasp to leave the EU by March 29 and that is what we are planning to do."

Her decision will come as a blow to opponents who planned to use this week’s vote in the House of Commons to push for a delay to Britain’s departure from the EU, or for a so-called People’s Vote on her deal with Brussels.

Although the EU-AL summit is not scheduled to discuss Brexit, May said she would take the opportunity to meet with leaders of EU member states in her quest to get changes to her deal.

The new date for a meaningful date in the House of Commons will be just 17 days before Britain is scheduled to end its EU membership on March 29.

The Guardian reported that May is expected to hold meetings with the European council president, Donald Tusk later on Sunday and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday in Egypt.

In what has been a stormy week for British politics, 11 MPs, three Conservatives and seven from the main opposition Labour Party, have left their parties and formed an Independent Group of MPs in the House of Commons.

Meanwhile in the latest development, three of her senior front bench ministers Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke told the Daily Mail newspaper, they would support moves to extend Article 50, the mechanism that laid down Britain’s departure date as March 29. They said their move was to avoid a "disastrous" no deal Brexit, unless a deal with Brussels is agreed within the next few days.

Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party, attacked May’s decision to delay the vote.

He said in London: "This decision to further delay the meaningful vote is the height of irresponsibility and an admission of failure.

"Theresa May is recklessly running down the clock in a desperate attempt to force MPs to choose between her deal and no deal.

"Parliament cannot stand by and allow this to happen."
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British cabinet members warn of delayed Brexit

LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Three members of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet have warned that Brexit would be delayed if the Parliament fails to approve the Brexit deal next week.

Ahead of crucial votes in the Commons, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke told local media that time was running out and that they hoped for a breakthrough in negotiations soon.

This was the first time cabinet ministers have warned publicly of a delayed Brexit.

Downing Street said in a statement that May is working hard to ensure the country gets a deal with the European Union (EU) that allows it to deliver on the result of the referendum, and that was what the cabinet should be focused on.

Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29.
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FURTHER READING:

Opinion: Do European Union and United Kingdom face Brexit — or the Last Judgment?

The European Union is ready to give Britain more guarantees
that the Irish “backstop” is only intended to be temporary

             

 

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