UK PM faces another defeat | The Daily Star
12:46 AM, February 15, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:48 AM, February 15, 2019

BREXIT IMPASSE

UK PM faces another defeat

Prime Minister Theresa May risks another humiliating Brexit defeat at the hands of her own eurosceptic MPs yesterday, with just weeks to go until Britain officially leaves the EU.

Parliament will hold a symbolic vote endorsing May's Brexit strategy but Conservative Party hardliners could abstain, threatening defeat for May.

Eurosceptics in the party's European Research Group are worried that a vote in favour could be seen as ruling out leaving the European Union without a deal.

"Conservative MPs really ought not to be associated with anything, express or implied, which seems to take no deal off the table," said leading ERG member Steve Baker.

"Compromising no deal would be the daftest negotiating strategy and not in the national interest."

A senior source within the ERG said the group would abstain, according to the Daily Telegraph, which would spell almost certain defeat for May given Labour's opposition to the motion.

But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, who opened Thursday's debate, sought to reassure leave-supporting MPs, saying that it was still government policy to leave next month, deal or no deal.

"The House has passed legislation by a big majority... to say we're leaving on March 29 and the legislation takes precedence" over a non-binding vote to take no-deal off the table, he told parliament.

Leading Brexiteer Liam Fox warned colleagues that defeat for the government would raise doubts about whether a renegotiated deal could get through parliament, making the EU less likely to make on offer.

May's initial deal was roundly rejected by British MPs last month, but later parliamentary votes suggested a slim majority for her deal if she could get rid of the backstop clause.

The provision is intended to keep the border with Ireland free-flowing but some fear it could leave Britain trapped in EU trade rules indefinitely with no withdrawal mechanism.

British officials have since held a series of meeting with EU counterparts, who have ruled out reopening negotiations.

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