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Brexit assurances won ahead of crucial vote

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Brexit assurances won ahead of crucial vote

Brexit assurances won ahead of crucial vote

Prime Minister Theresa May has won legally binding Brexit assurances from the European Union in a last ditch attempt to sway rebellious British lawmakers who have threatened to vote down her divorce deal again.

Francesca Lynagh reports.


Brexit assurances won ahead of crucial vote

Just hours before a crucial parliament vote on Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May made a last-minute dash to Strasbourg to meet EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

And came away with some legally binding assurances on the Irish backstop, which she hopes will sway rebellious lawmakers back home.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: "First, a joint instrument with comparable legal weight to the Withdrawal Agreement will guarantee that the EU cannot act with the intent of applying the backstop indefinitely.

If they do, it can be challenged through arbitration and if they are found to be in breach the UK can suspend the backstop." The backstop is an insurance policy aimed at preventing a hard border between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

Some British lawmakers worry it could trap the UK in the EU indefinitely.

After two-and-a-half years of haggling over Brexit, Juncker cautioned that this was the last chance for Britain.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, SAYING: "In politics sometimes you get a second chance, it is what we do with this second chance that counts, because there will be no third chance.

There will be no further interpretations on the interpretations and no further assurances on the reassurances." Lawmakers will decide whether to approve May's updated Brexit deal on Tuesday (March 12) evening in a so-called ''meaningful vote.'' It comes nearly two months after her original agreement suffered a crushing defeat in parliament.

Brexiteers in May's party have accused her of surrendering to the EU and it was not clear if the new assurances would be enough to win over some 116 additional lawmakers she needs.

If May's deal is rejected, lawmakers will get a vote on Wednesday on whether to leave the EU without a deal.

If they reject that, then there'll be another vote on whether to ask for Brexit to be delayed.

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