The Latest: EU says UK vote makes no-deal Brexit more likely

By – Associated Press – Tuesday, March 12, 2019

LONDON (AP) – The Latest on Brexit (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Nigel Farage, the British politician who became the public face of anti-European Union sentiment in the run-up to a 2016 Brexit referendum, thinks the country’s departure date could be pushed back by a year.

Farage said during an interview with The Associated Press after Parliament voted down Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest divorce deal with the EU on Tuesday that the U.K.’s political chaos and EU’s upcoming legislative elections preclude a smooth withdrawal any time soon.

Farage said: “Let’s be realistic. We’ve got a new European Parliament coming in….”I don’t see the next phase of (Brexit) negotiations even starting until November. So I would say that the extension, realistically, has to be a year.”

As leader of the euroskeptic U.K. Independence Party, Farage campaigned for Brexit. He represents the party in the EU parliament and says a 12-month postponement might mean the U.K. has to take part in the May elections.

He says he’d rather not go through another campaign, but ‘If we’ve got to fight more European elections, I will fight them.”

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8:05 p.m.

The says the British Parliament’s rejection of a revised divorce deal “has significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.”

The and its 27 other member countries said in a statement Tuesday night after the voted 391 to 242 against the latest withdrawal deal that they “have done all that is possible to reach an agreement.” 

The statement says the European Commission and members will continue to prepare for Brexit happening without a deal in place and “ensure that we will be ready if such a scenario arises” on March 29. 

The says it will “expect a credible justification” if the UK asks to postpone its departure.

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7:30 p.m.

British Prime Minister has confirmed that Parliament will get to decide between leaving the with no deal and delaying Brexit.

says she “profoundly regrets” the rejection of her deal Tuesday and said delaying Britain’s departure won’t solve the underlying problem.

She says Parliament will be given a chance to “decline” leaving the without a deal on March 29 in a Wednesday vote.

If that is the choice, Parliament will decide Thursday whether to seek an extension that would delay Britain’s departure date.

cautions that the will need a reason to approve a delay.

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7:20 p.m.

Britain’s Parliament has dealt a major blow to Prime Minister , resoundingly rejecting her Brexit deal just 17 days before the U.K. is due to leave the bloc.

Lawmakers voted by 391 to 242 against the deal, the second time they have defeated it.

The threw out the agreement by an overwhelming majority in January, sending back to the to seek changes.

On Monday, said she had secured “legally binding” changes to allay lawmakers’ fears – but it wasn’t enough.

Lawmakers will now vote on whether to leave the without a deal on the scheduled date of March 29, or to ask the bloc to postpone Britain’s departure.

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2:35 p.m.

’s Democratic Unionist Party says it won’t back U.K. Prime Minister ’s revamped divorce deal from the .

The party, which plays a pivotal role in the Brexit votes in Parliament because of the prominence of the border with member , said in a statement that had made “limited” progress. However, it added that in its view “sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.”

has long courted the party’s support because she needs its 10 votes to win a majority in Parliament. 

had announced changes on Monday designed to overcome lawmakers’ concerns about provisions designed to ensure the border on the island of remains open after Brexit.

The so-called backstop is an insurance mechanism that would be implemented only if Britain and the can’t agree on the terms of their future relationship in the second phase of negotiations.

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2:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has implored lawmakers to back her divorce agreement, telling them that “if this deal is not passed then Brexit could be lost.”

– her voice reduced to a raw whisper after days of frantic Brexit diplomacy – spoke as the began debating the deal before a vote later Tuesday.

She said she had secured “improvements” from the to the deal that lawmakers rejected in January.

But many pro-Brexit lawmakers still think the agreement keeps Britain bound too closely to the and say they plan to vote against it.

Britain is due to leave the bloc in less than three weeks, on March 29.

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1:45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the made “clear, far-reaching proposals” to address Britain’s concerns about its withdrawal deal.

Merkel said at a brief news conference in Berlin with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel that “today is an important day” and she will watch closely what happens in Britain this week. She stressed that “we want an orderly British withdrawal.”

She said that “we made an effort to address British sensitivities, British wishes and British concerns.” Before a British Parliament vote Tuesday on the withdrawal agreement, Merkel didn’t address the assessment by Britain’s attorney general that last-minute changes secured from the didn’t give Britain the power to cut itself free of ties to the bloc.

Merkel deflected a question on whether she was prepared to delay the Brexit deadline. She said that the British Parliament is holding votes this week – “we will now wait for these votes and then we will decide.”

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1:15 p.m.

An influential group of Brexit-backing lawmakers in Britain says it won’t vote for Prime Minister ’s divorce deal because changes she has secured are not good enough.

The European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers says its lawyers looked at the documents and found them wanting.

Group member Bill Cash says “we do not recommend accepting the government’s motion today.”

The announcement is another blow to ’s deal, after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said last-minute changes did not eliminate the risk Britain could be trapped in rules against its will.

The is due to vote later on whether to approve or reject the deal.

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12 p.m.

The head of the European Parliament says the will not make further concessions to Britain after the country’s attorney general failed to fundamentally alter his legal advice on Prime Minister ’s revised deal.

EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani said the problems raised by the attorney general are “an internal problem of the U.K.” and would not prompt the to reconsider the Brexit deal again.

“We are very clear It is impossible to change our position,” Tajani said after he heard about the objections.

hoped that concessions she got from the late Monday would be enough to prompt Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to alter his advice that the country could end up being tied indefinitely in a customs union with the after Brexit.

He still hoped U.K. lawmakers would back the withdrawal agreement later.

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11:30 a.m.

The pound has slumped by more than 1 percent against the dollar after the British Attorney General’s assessment of Prime Minister ’s reinforced expectations that lawmakers will reject it.

In a letter outlining his thoughts over ’s latest Brexit deal, Geoffrey Cox said the latest concessions from the don’t eliminate the risk the country will remain entwined with the customs union indefinitely.

His advice suggests that many lawmakers who have opposed ’s deal are unlikely to change the way they vote in Parliament later. That raises the prospect of more uncertainty, including a potential delay to Brexit.

Minutes after Cox’s advice, the pound was 1.1 percent lower at $1.3014, almost two cents down from where it was earlier. The fall means the pound has given up all the gains in made after claimed she had secured “legally binding” changes to the withdrawal agreement.

David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB, said it now “looks like any hopes of an unlikely victory for the PM’s deal later have just been extinguished.”

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11:15 a.m.

Britain’s attorney general says changes to the Brexit divorce deal secured by Prime Minister don’t eliminate the risk the country will remain entwined with European Union rules indefinitely.

Geoffrey Cox says the changes “reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained” in a part of the withdrawal agreement known as the backstop.

But he says they don’t give the U.K. an “internationally lawful means” of getting out of the arrangement without the ’s approval.

The opinion is a blow to ’s hopes of persuading pro-Brexit lawmakers to vote for her deal in Parliament on Tuesday.

The Brexiteers feel the backstop, designed to maintain an open Irish border, could trap Britain in lockstep with rules.

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10:50 a.m.

Germany and other nations welcomed the overnight agreement reached between President Jean-Claude Juncker and British Prime Minister as a last-ditch effort to avoid a chaotic Brexit at the end of the month.

Arriving in Bucharest, most European affairs ministers were upbeat about the deal which will be voted upon by the U.K. parliament Tuesday night.

Germany’s affairs minister, Michael Roth, called it “a far-reaching compromise. For the it’s of utmost importance that the integrity of the single market be preserved, and that there be no hard border between and .”

He called on the to accept the deal “because I don’t see further chances for negotiations.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted that he was “pleased with the agreement” and implored that British legislators approve the deal. “An orderly #Brexit is crucial for both the and the UK,” Rutte tweeted. “There is no alternative.”

European Affairs Minister George Ciamba of Romania, which has the presidency, held out “hope this will be a game changer…but we shouldn’t pre-judge the outcome of the vote in the Commons…a disorderly exit would be the worst scenario.’

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called it “the last chance to avoid a no-deal.”

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8:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister is facing continued opposition to her divorce deal despite “legally binding” changes that she hopes will win parliamentary support for the agreement.

The will vote later Tuesday after last-minute talks with the produced assurances that said means the deal couldn’t be used to tie Britain to the bloc indefinitely.

Both Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, and Conservative lawmaker Dominic Grieve expressed skepticism about whether had won substantive concessions.

flew to Strasbourg, France, late Monday for talks with President Jean-Claude Juncker. At a news conference, they announced changes designed to overcome lawmakers’ concerns about provisions designed to ensure the border between member and Britain’s remains open after Brexit.

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