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With the clock counting down to Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union, UK legislators have voted down embattled Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Brexit deal for a second time this year.
A second so-called “meaningful vote” on Tuesday ended with another heavy defeat for the prime minister, with 391 MPs voting against and 242 supporting the deal.
The last time May put the agreement to parliament, in January, she again suffered a major defeat as the deal agreed with the EU over 18 months of painstaking negotiations was defeated by a margin of 230.
This time it was 149.
Tuesday’s vote came just 24 hours after May made a last-minute dash to Strasbourg for a meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission. Two documents were published as a result of the meeting, which May said would deliver the legally-binding changes to the withdrawal agreement MPs had asked for.
But it soon became clear that those changes would not be enough to win the vote.
“We recognise that the prime minister has made limited progress in her discussions with the European Union. However in our view sufficient progress has not beenachieved at this time,” said a spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), May’s ally in Northern Ireland.
May had been tasked with securing changes to the so-called “backstop” protocol of the withdrawal agreement, which critics in the hardline wing of her ruling Conservative Party and the DUP say would trap the UK within the EU’s trade rules indefinitely, or see Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of the country.
They asked for either a time limit on the backstop, or a unilateral exit clause for the UK.
The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, published his legal opinion on the new documents saying that they did not fully eliminate the risk of the UK getting stuck in the backstop. When questioned by MPs on his statement, he did say, however, that the documents contain provisions to ensure a “significant reduction in that risk”.
Source : Aljazeera