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Brexit talks deadlocked ahead of key Parliament vote

Press Trust of India  |  London 

British looks set for another Parliament defeat this week over as talks with the (EU) to finalise a draft withdrawal agreement remain "deadlocked" on Monday, ahead of a key vote.

The so-called meaningful vote on May's deal is set for Tuesday but with no changes agreed on both sides to the controversial Irish backstop clause to make the deal more acceptable to British MPs, the UK seems to be on course for a repeat of January's historic Commons defeat.

As Downing Street admitted that talks with the EU remain deadlocked, reports emerged from to indicate that may be undertaking a last-minute dash to in later on Monday for talks with to try and salvage her deal.

The PM and the negotiating teams are focused on making progress so we can secure Parliament's support for the deal, a Downing Street said on Monday.

The UK has been seeking changes to the Irish backstop, an designed to maintain an open border on the between UK territory and EU member-state the Republic of Ireland. It remains the biggest sticking point for many pro-Brexit MPs in the UK because they fear that, in its current form, the clause may be used to keep the UK tied to the EU indefinitely.

In a statement, the said it had put forward proposals to try and reassure MPs the backstop "if used will apply temporarily".

"We are committed to using our best endeavours to find a subsequent agreement that replaces the backstop... We are committed to ratifying this deal before 29 March," the said, adding that it was now for Britain's MPs to set the course for the next steps for Brexit.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the only talks that mattered now were between the in and the Parliament in London, indicating very little scope for concessions from the EU side ahead of Tuesday's vote.

Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK is set to formally leave the EU on March 29 with officials on all sides working hard to secure a withdrawal agreement to avert a chaotic no-deal Brexit. However, according to a timetable pledged by last month, if the latest vote on her Brexit agreement fails to go her way, then the Commons will get a chance to vote on leaving the EU without a deal a scenario which has very little support within the As a result, all focus will then be on a third vote, expected by Thursday, to decide if the Brexit deadline of March 29 should be delayed.

Talk of May stepping down as sooner rather than later is also growing, with her former policy adviser, George Freeman, calling for a new leader for a new generation after Brexit.

While May has said she wants to stay on in power to deliver a domestic legacy, the votes in Parliament this week might determine the length of her remaining time in Downing Street.

Meanwhile, the Opposition has been mounting pressure on the for an to Parliament on the talks with the EU.

and of the influential Yvette Cooper, who has spearheaded parliamentary efforts to rule out a no-deal exit, called for talks on the withdrawal deal and the UK's exit to be put on hold while May tries to build a consensus in Parliament and the country.

"The stakes are far too high to assume she has this under control. If she won't find a way forward, Parliament has a responsibility to do so instead," Cooper said.

However, her party has also confirmed that it will not push for a on a second referendum this week even if the Brexit deal is resoundingly defeated.

We have to assess when it's the right time to put amendments and to vote on them and in the end we have to work with our backbenchers, said Labour's

It doesn't mean that a public vote has gone, it doesn't mean we won't come to it, but it means Tuesday is about exposing the weakness of the Prime Minister, he said.

Labour plans to make its MPs vote for an amendment at a later date, which would put Theresa May's deal to the country in a second referendum in an effort to break through Parliamentary deadlock.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 23:46 IST