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'B****cks': United Kingdom attourney general responds to report on his Brexit advice

14 March 2019

Britain must leave the European Union by the time EU voters elect a new European Parliament on 23-26 May or will have to elect its own EU lawmakers, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said, writes Alastair Macdonald in Brussels.

British Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said on Tuesday that the newly secured legally binding changes to the Brexit deal will "reduce the risk" of his country being indefinitely and involuntarily held in the Irish backstop.

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With just 17 days left until the United Kingdom's scheduled departure date, talks have been stuck on the same issue that has blocked progress for the past year: the backup plan meant to ensure there's never any need for customs checks at the land border between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

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At its heart lies three new documents meant to provide additional legal guarantees that the United Kingdom can't be trapped indefinitely inside the backstop arrangement. Remember, in November past year, the European Union approved May's Brexit deal but her agreement with the bloc was unceremoniously rejected by members of her own party, as well as the opposition.

The government was even weighing up whether to scrap Tuesday's planned vote on the basis that no significant changes had been secured.

A deal might not happen at all, if Parliament still delivers a no on Tuesday's vote on the withdrawal plan.

Groups of MPs are preparing to test their versions of Brexit via a series of amendments if it is clear May's deal is doomed. "We have a deal on the table which does exactly do this".

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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. "Tomorrow, the House of Commons will debate the improved deal that these legal changes have created".

Following technical talks over the weekend, both sides were expected to go over the phrasing in the part of the agreement dealing with the post-Brexit border on the island of Ireland. But he chose to wait so his Cabinet could discuss possible progress in the Brexit process.

"If MPs vote for Theresa May's Brexit deal, we edge closer to understanding exactly how and when Brexit will play out but whether that is positive or negative for the pound depends on the deal itself".

The main sticking point is a measure to ensure the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains open, a key issue for Varadkar's government.

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'B****cks': United Kingdom attourney general responds to report on his Brexit advice