PM Theresa May faces challenge despite securing key Brexit changes

  • PM Theresa May faces challenge despite securing key Brexit changes

PM Theresa May faces challenge despite securing key Brexit changes

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has dealt a serious blow to Theresa May's hopes of getting her Brexit deal through parliament, writing in new legal advice that the risk of being trapped in the Irish border backstop remains "unchanged" despite last-minute assurances.

Parliament voted it down twice, and May might try to put it to a third vote.

This is also a reiteration of the main Brexit divorce deal agreed in November. Picture: PA What changes has Theresa May agreed on the withdrawal agreement?

Theresa May is on course for another historic defeat of her Brexit deal after the DUP and Tory Brexiteers said last-minute changes she negotiated from the European Union are not enough to secure their support.

A second adjustment outlines a commitment by the European Union and the United Kingdom to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by December next year.

Other EU nations welcomed the overnight agreement, and urged British politicians to seize the chance to back the deal and ensure an orderly departure.

Brexiteer former Cabinet minister John Whittingdale suggested the Attorney General's advice was "pretty terminal".

His advice previously has been that the backstop could leave the United Kingdom trapped in the Customs Union, something that Eurosceptics find unacceptable.

"The legal risk remains unchanged", Cox said.

"It is hard to see what more we can do", the statement said, adding that the latest vote "significantly increased" the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit. This is now extremely unlikely.

Will the DUP back Theresa May's Brexit deal?

Brexiteers from within her own party and the DUP have refused to comment if they feel the changes she has secured will be enough for them to vote in favour of the deal before they take full legal advice on the changes. Today we have secured legal changes.

The signs don't look great though.

The barrage of news over the last few hours over the progress of Brexit negotiations sent derivative markets into a tailspin with overnight gauges of expected moves in the pound spiking to its highest levels last seen immediately after the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016.

"It's likely the pound will react in light of the aftermath of tonight's vote - but in which way depends on the outcome of the vote". This chart shows how the week may develop. That will be followed by another vote Thursday on postponing the exit beyond March 29.

His legal opinion sent Sterling sharply lower and dented risk appetite more generally as the chances rose that May will lose the vote on her deal in the UK Parliament that is due to take place at 1900 GMT.

If they vote against that - and MPs are nearly certain to do so - they will vote again on Thursday on whether to ask the European Union to extend Article 50 for a short period.

If they vote for that, the Prime Minister will go to Brussels to ask for an extension, something that all 27 member countries will need to agree to.

If MPs opt for extending article 50 to continue deliberations, it still will not solve the problems May's government is facing.

"Finally, the House of Commons is going to have to make a final judgment on what it wants in terms of Brexit", he said.

Around 320 votes are needed to guarantee a majority.