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    UK MPs to Vote Again on Brexit Deal as May, EU Agree on Legally Binding Changes

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    The lower house of the UK Parliament will vote on the government's Brexit agreement on Tuesday, just over two months after rejecting it in January by 432 votes to 202. Here’s what to expect from the upcoming vote and the things that will follow should the vote fail.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament Tuesday for a second vote.

    If the government's deal is not passed on Tuesday, a vote on a no-deal scenario is expected to take place on Wednesday. If that is rejected as well, a vote on extending the Article 50 period will be held on Thursday. After the crushing vote, May was tasked with re-negotiating the deal with the European Union.

    READ MORE: EU, UK Agree on Irish Border, Complementing Non-Changing Brexit Agreement

    On Monday, Prime Minister May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced they had agreed to the unchanged language of the Brexit deal, albeit supplemented by two documents: one which will guarantee that the EU will not use the so-called "Irish backstop" — a protocol designed to ensure an open border between the two Irelands in the event of a of no-deal Brexit — as a "trap" for the UK and will allow London to withdraw from the customs union; and the other which sets up a framework for replacing the "backstop" with a better solution by December 2020.

    The backstop plan will keep the UK in the customs union with the EU, keeping Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods.

    Hardline Eurosceptics have said the backstop will tie the UK to the EU's trade rules indefinitely, calling for a hard no-deal Brexit that will set the UK "free" from European rules and obligations.

    The EU, represented by its Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, confirmed the EU had agreed to a "legally binding interpretation" of the withdrawal agreement that includes the option for the UK to leave the customs union unilaterally. Interestingly enough, this managed to anger the House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, who pointed out that Barnier's option is actually a proposal thrown in by May and rejected months ago.

    READ MORE: The Lost Weekend: Tusk and Barnier Tease May as Chances of Brexit Deal Fade

    Speaking during a joint press conference with PM May, Juncker called on the European Council and on British lawmakers to endorse the negotiated documents, urging the parties to "bring the UK's withdrawal to an orderly end".

    European Parliament President Antonio Tajani also expressed hope that the UK Parliament on Tuesday would endorse the withdrawal agreement reached by London and Brussels in light of the new document on the Irish border that is set to complement earlier arrangements.

    The upcoming vote on the "new" deal is not expected to pass, though. If the deal is rejected, the MPs will assemble two more times to vote on ruling out a no-deal scenario. If this controversial vote passes, the MPs will vote again on delaying Brexit. If the vote passes, the entire Brexit issue may mostly be settled.

    Delaying Brexit is technically possible, even if the MPs fail to agree on this one: PM May might still ask for a short technical delay to pass the legislation needed to leave the EU. The final agreement on a Brexit extension with the EU must be signed during the next EU summit scheduled for 21-22 March.

    Extending Brexit for too long is not in PM May's interest, though. European Parliament elections are scheduled for 23-26 May and the first sitting will take place in July. If the UK is still in the EU at that time, London's envoys will have to participate, and this will only raise tensions with Brexiteers back home.

    The extension will only be possible if all EU members agree on that.

    One possible alternative to all of the aforementioned is a second Brexit referendum. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced two weeks ago he would support another referendum, a major shift in his party's policy. The party as a whole, however, said it will not make such a proposal. Individual MPs may come up with this idea, though, but they will have to secure a Paliamentary majority, which is going to be a difficult task, considering that many Labour MPs are still opposed to the second referendum.

    In the meantime, Parliament may decide to stage a new vote of no confidence in Prime Minister May, who narrowly survived one earlier in January. According to Maddy Thimont Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government in London, Parliament has the power, and this time, the PM may not survive the vote.

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    Tags:
    Brexit deal, vote, Brexit, EU, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean-Claude Juncker, Theresa May, United Kingdom
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