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UK Prime Minister To Meet European Leaders After Cancelling Brexit Vote

World News With Brexit Vote Theresa May is heading for emergency Brexit talks with European leaders after leaving Westminster in turmoil. The prime minister will meet German Chancellor Angela...

World News With Brexit Vote

Theresa May is heading for emergency Brexit talks with European leaders after leaving Westminster in turmoil. The prime minister will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte on Tuesday to try to obtain reassurances about the UK’s exit deal.

It follows her decision to call off a crunch Commons vote on the deal, scheduled for Tuesday, after admitting she faced a “significant” defeat on it. The move prompted howls of condemnation from the opposition benches as well as a number of Tories.

There is particular opposition to the proposed backstop arrangements for the Irish border, which would see the UK obey EU customs rules after a transition period if a wider trade deal has not been agreed by then. Many Tory Brexiters who want to see May replaced as leader have demanded changes to the deal, but European Council president Donald Tusk insisted there was no question of reopening negotiations.

Announcing the decision to delay the vote on the Brexit deal, May told the Commons that if it had gone ahead as planned, the Government would have been defeated by a significant margin. Alluding to the main point of concern about her deal she said the Northern Ireland backstop is causing “widespread and deep concern.”

Speaking on Monday, May said: “I have listened very carefully to what has been said in this chamber and out of it by Members from all sides. From listening to those views it is clear that while there is broad support for key aspects of the deal, on one issue, the Northern Ireland backstop, there remains widespread and deep concern. As a result, if we went ahead tomorrow it would be rejected by a significant margin.”

She said the Government was also looking at new ways of empowering the House of Commons. This is to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the Government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it would be difficult to get the Brexit deal through Parliament without reassurances the UK would not be “trapped” in backstop measures ensuring no return to hard border in Ireland.

Referring to May’s lobbying mission in Europe, Dr Fox told the BBC’s Newsnight: “My colleagues will want to see that their fears of being trapped in a backstop cannot be realized. Without the ability to genuinely reassure my colleagues that they could not legally be kept in the backstop against their will, it will be difficult to get this through the House of Commons.”

Meanwhile, Tory former prime minister David Cameron has said he has no regrets about calling the Brexit referendum – despite previously warning that leaving the European Union would be an “act of economic and political self-harm”.

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