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Back me or lose Brexit, warns May

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 12, 2019 - Duration: 02:06s

Back me or lose Brexit, warns May

Prime Minister Theresa May warns lawmakers that voting down her deal could mean cancelling Brexit, after she secured last-ditch assurances from the European Union.

But they might not be enough to get parliament behind her as the most crucial vote yet looms. Lucy Fielder reports.

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Back me or lose Brexit, warns May

SOUNDBITE (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, THERESA MAY, SAYING: " If this vote is not passed tonight, if this deal is not passed, then Brexit could be lost.

The time has come to back this deal, and I commend this motion to the house." British Prime Minister Theresa May showing signs of strain on Tuesday (March 12) after an eleventh-hour dash to Strasbourg to get tweaks to her Brexit deal.

And, just hours before it will be put to a so-called "meaningful vote" in parliament that looks sure to be a battle.

An influential group of Brexiteers within May's own party says her latest changes aren't enough and it won't back her deal.

This clamor outside parliament, despite a downpour, is a reminder of how divisive Brexit is -- just two weeks before it's meant to happen.

May's last-ditch assurances from the EU concern the so-called Irish backstop -- an insurance policy to avoid checks on the Irish border.

It's still the most controversial issue for Brexit supporters.

So it was a serious blow when earlier on Tuesday the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, said May's latest tweaks changed little legally and Britain could stay tied within the EU orbit after Brexit.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ATTORNEY GENERAL GEOFFERY COX SAYING: ''The question for the house is whether in the light of these improvements, as a political judgment, the house should now enter into those arrangements.'' It's been two and a half years since the EU referendum and there have been many "crunch votes" in recent months.

But if May loses this one, Brexit could be delayed.

First she'd return to parliament, probably on Wednesday (March 13), to ask if it wants Brexit to go ahead without a deal.

That's a prospect that rings alarm bells for the world's fifth-largest economy.

If the answer is again "no," then lawmakers can choose whether to delay exiting the EU.

Lawmakers delivered a crushing defeat to May's last attempt in January.

Now Brussels is warning this is Britain's last chance.

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