Economy

Theresa May faces fresh fight over Brexit

Theresa May faces fresh fight over Brexit

British MPs who are loyal to the prime minister will back alternative plans for a softer Brexit if an amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which is created to delay Britain's departure and rule out a no-deal exit, wins a majority in the Commons on Monday, the Times reported.

A top European Commission official says it would be "a stupid thing" for the European Union to make any concessions to Britain that would put the bloc at a disadvantage just to clinch a Brexit agreement. The measure, known as the backstop, would keep the U.K.in a customs union with the EU in order to remove the need for checks along the frontier between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Britain leaves the EU.

"The prime minister said that in order to win the support of the House of Commons legal changes to the backstop will be required, that would mean reopening the Withdrawal Agreement", he told reporters.

An amendment to the prime minister's plan B by Yvette Cooper was defeated by 321 to 298 after Tory hardliners united with the DUP and 14 Labour rebels.

Although Parliament is overwhelmingly opposed to May's Brexit deal, lawmakers are divided over what to do instead - whether to brace for a "no-deal" Brexit or to try and rule that out.

Not all MPs back the plan.

"It is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in the house for leaving the European Union with a deal", she said, adding she would seek "legally binding changes". The backstop is in place to stop the return of border checks.

On Jan. 29, parliament will debate May's proposed next steps as well as alternative plans put forward by lawmakers, including some that seek to delay Britain's exit by requesting an extension to the Article 50 negotiation period.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow will announce Tuesday which amendments have been selected for debate and vote.

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Increasing numbers of government ministers have warned they will not accept the prospect of Britain leaving without a deal on March 29, immediately severing all ties with its largest trading partner and threatening economic chaos.

Dr Fox said that MPs' backing for the Brady amendment would strengthen the Prime Minister's hand. A party source said the Cooper bill "could give MPs a temporary window to agree a deal that can bring the country together".

The 318 to 310 vote went against Prime Minister Theresa May, who says the only way to take a so-called no deal Brexit off the table is to vote in favour of an agreement with the EU.

Yet some hardcore Brexiteers support leaving the European trading bloc with no deal, due to their extreme dislike of May's approach, which seeks to keep Britain closely tied to European rules.

His comments were echoed by Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit pointman of the European Parliament, which must also sign off on the Brexit deal.

This is aimed at neutralising the controversial "backstop" plan contained in the Withdrawal Agreement which prevents a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

It would extend the transition period - the period where the United Kingdom would continue to follow European Union rules and pay into its budget - from the end of 2020 and into December 2021 which would "allow both parties to prepare properly for WTO terms, but also provide a period in which the parties could obviate this outcome by negotiating a mutually beneficial future relationship".

Confirming he would vote with the government, Tory former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab said Cooper's amendment would have led to "understandable fears that actually it is a ruse to reverse or frustrate Brexit".

Ireland has said it doesn't want any changes to the backstop.