UK leader mounts last-ditch bid to win Brexit deal backing
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May offered both a promise on workers’ rights and a reassuring letter from European Union leaders on Monday as she implored British lawmakers to support her floundering Brexit deal.
But the British leader had few concrete measures up her sleeve a day before a vote in Parliament which looks likely to see her Brexit deal rejected.
A defeat on Tuesday would throw Brexit plans into disarray just weeks before the U.K. is due to leave the bloc on March 29.
May warned that the only alternatives to her agreement were an economically damaging, chaotic “no-deal” exit from the EU or a halt to Britain’s departure that would defy British voters’ decision in 2016 to leave the bloc.
In a speech Monday at a ceramics factory in the central England city of Stoke-on-Trent, May said “people’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm” if her deal is rejected and Brexit was abandoned.
Having Britain leave the EU without a deal “would cause turbulence for our economy, create barriers to security cooperation and disrupt people’s daily lives,” she said.
“The only deal on the table is the one (members of Parliament) will vote on tomorrow night,” May said.
Britain and the EU reached a hard-won divorce deal in November, but the agreement has run aground in the U.K. Parliament. May postponed a vote on the deal in December to avoid a resounding defeat, and there are few signs the deal has picked up much support since then.
Several previously opposed British legislators have swung behind May’s agreement in the last few days, but they remain outnumbered by those determined to vote against it.
In a bid to win support, May sought reassurances from EU leaders about the deal’s most contentious measure — an insurance policy known as the “backstop” that would keep Britain in an EU customs union to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.