British PM delays Brexit vote in parliament

In the face of certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May has called off a Brexit vote in parliament on Tuesday, pledging to secure more assurances from Brussels over Irish backstop

Theresa May has delayed Tuesday’s Brexit vote in the British parliament and pledged to head to Brussels to secure more assurances over the Northern Ireland border issue.

May faced certain defeat over a deal that has been criticised from all quarters, including senior members of her own party.

In a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, May said she was delaying the vote after serious concerns were raised over the Irish backstop agreement.

The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will be an external border of the EU when Britain leaves the union.

Unless a customs agreement is concluded between the UK and the EU, border checks would have to be introduced at the Northern Ireland border.

However, the UK wants to avoid a hard border in line with the two decades-old peace agreement on the Irish island that helped stop the sectarian strife in North Ireland.

The exit deal provides for a backstop solution that allows for a customs union between the EU and North Ireland to avoid a hard border. This proposal is opposed by many in the UK because it would create an internal border between North Ireland and the rest of the UK.

May told MPs this afternoon that she would seek further re-assurances from EU partners and Brussels that any recourse to the Irish backstop would be temporary and not indefinite.

The EU has made it clear that the deal concluded last month will not be re-negotiated.

The UK is expected to exit at the end of March 2019.

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