Theresa May still plans to go ahead with ‘meaningful vote’

British prime minister Theresa May is battling to save her Brexit strategy as negotiations with the European Union remain “deadlocked”, amid warnings that she is heading for another crushing defeat in Tuesday’s crunch House of Commons vote.

Tory Brexiteers said rejection of the withdrawal agreement is “inevitable” unless Mrs May is able to secure significant changes to the Northern Ireland backstop.

“Technical” talks between officials took place in Brussels over the weekend and the PM spoke to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Sunday night. Mrs May has had a further phone call with Mr Juncker, Number 10 said. “Talks continue,” the British prime minister’s official spokesman said.

But the negotiations remained deadlocked.

The spokesman confirmed that it remains the plan to stage the “meaningful vote” on the Brexit deal on Tuesday. The motion is due to be tabled later on Monday, alongside the publication of the documents setting out the deal, including the withdrawal agreement and political declaration agreed in November. Also expected to be published is the legal advice of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. The spokesman cautioned against “speculation” that the prime minister might ask the British parliament to vote on a “conditional” motion expressing its readiness to support a form of deal other than the one agreed with Brussels.

A plane was reported to be on stand-by at RAF Northolt at the weekend to fly Mrs May to Brussels to clinch an agreement if there was any sign of a deal after talks on Saturday and Sunday. But the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier did not appear to be expecting further talks on Monday morning, telling the AFP news agency in Brussels: “We held talks over the weekend and the negotiations now are between the Government in London and the Parliament in London.”

Some senior Conservatives said on Sunday that Mrs May should postpone the “meaningful vote” rather than risk another damaging defeat.


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