Britain must leave the EU on 26 May the latest

May secured last-minute changes to her Brexit deal from the EU, but they might not be enough

Photo: EPA Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC (L) welcomes British PM Theresa May at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Theresa May has agreed a revised Brexit deal in last-ditch talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, as she seeks to avoid a crushing Commons defeat in today's vote. According to a statement, made by Theresa May three important changes to the withdrawal deal were made and they are aimed at providing additional legal guarantees that the UK can’t be trapped indefinitely inside the backstop arrangement.

The key new agreement, a legally-binding “instrument” between the EU and UK, largely restates provisions about the Ireland border that are in Mrs May’s original Brexit deal, which was overwhelmingly rejected by parliament in January.  

May is now hopeful it will be enough to address concerns of some in her party who were worried her EU divorce deal would keep the UK in a customs union. Juncker also stressed this was the last chance for MPs to support the Brexit deal since “there will be no further interpretations of interpretations or reassurances on reassurances.”

“It’s this deal or Brexit may not happen at all,” he said, continuing that "there will be no third chance.".

Despite May's last-minute efforts to wrestle concessions from Brussels that could appease lawmakers and save her teetering government, however, late Monday, Britain's main opposition Labour Party announced it would vote against the deal, saying May had "failed".

"This evening's agreement with the European Commission does not contain anything approaching the changes Theresa May promised parliament," said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Brexit hardliners from May's Conservative Party and the DUP, a small Northern Irish party which is part of May's coalition government, have also said they will scrutinise the documents that have been agreed, which means that the PM faces on Tuesday even bigger defeat than the first time in January. 

Now there are three possible scenarios in sight that would depend on today's showdown at the British Parliament. In case May's agreement is rejected today, MPs will have to vote on Wednesday over whether to leave the EU without a deal at all. If crashing out without a deal is also rejected, there will be a further vote on Thursday on whether to extend the time for finding a Brexit deal beyond the 29 March deadline. In case such extension is approved, the other 27 Member States of the EU would need to unanimously back it and decide how long it should be at a Brussels summit on 21-22 March.

Yet, in a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, which he tweeted, Juncker insisted the UK's exit from the bloc must be completed by 23-26 May EU elections, so there is not much time for further delays.

"If the United Kingdom has not left the European Union by then, it will be legally required to hold these elections, in line with the rights and obligations of all Member States as set out in the Treaties," Commission's president wrote. 

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