UK government set to postpone parliamentary vote on Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May will make a statement to parliament on Monday amid speculation that the government will postpone a so-called meaningful vote on her widely unpopular Brexit deal.

May was touted to face a major defeat in the vote, which was scheduled for Tuesday evening in the lower chamber House of Commons.

She will now make a statement to the Commons at 15:30 GMT on Monday, according to the the Speaker’s office.

Local media reports, citing several anonymous government sources, said she will announce the Brexit vote has been pulled during her speech.

A move to delay the vote could provide May with a window of opportunity to go back to Brussels and push for revised terms of departure from the bloc.

But a spokesperson for the European Commission said earlier on Monday the EU had already offered Britain the “best and only possible” Brexit deal and would not renegotiate a withdrawal agreement.

“Our position has not changed and as far as we’re concerned the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on the 29th of March 2019,” spokesperson Mina Andreeva said.

Widely unpopular withdrawal plan

The vote was due to see parliamentarians decide on the EU withdrawal agreement and a declaration on future relations, reached by May and European leaders following months of back-and-forth negotiations.

A simple majority was required for approval.

The withdrawal plan includes provisions on citizens’ rights, the transition period and the so-called backstop arrangement concerning the Irish border, among other issues.

The declaration on a framework for future relations, meanwhile, sets out how the UK and EU will work together after Brexit in areas such as trade and security.

But scores of May’s ruling Conservative Party MPs were expected to reject her proposal, while several opposition parties including the main opposition Labour Party also said they would refuse to back it.

ECJ Brexit ruling

May’s scheduled speech to parliament will come hours after the European Union’s top court ruled that Britain may unilaterally reverse its decision to leave the bloc.

In a judgment delivered earlier on Monday morning, the European Court of Justice said the UK could revoke Article 50 – the exit clause in the EU’s constitution – “in accordance with its own national constitutional requirements”.

“Such a revocation … would have the effect that the United Kingdom remains in the EU under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State,” the court said.

The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 next year, two years after it triggered Article 50 and kick-started negotiations with European leaders over a divorce deal.

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