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3/11/2019

UK LEADER HOLDS LAST-DITCH BREXIT TALKS WITH EU BEFORE VOTE

UK LEADER HOLDS LAST-DITCH BREXIT TALKS WITH EU BEFORE VOTE
Prime Minister Theresa May scrambled to win last-minute changes from the European Union to her Brexit deal Monday, a day before a crucial vote in Britain's Parliament that could derail the country's withdrawal from the EU — and cost May her job.

May flew by Royal Air Force jet to Strasbourg, France, for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, seeking a way to get reluctant British legislators to back a deal that they resoundingly rejected in January.

The House of Commons is due to hold a second vote on the plan Tuesday, but there are few signs either British lawmakers or EU leaders are prepared to make big shifts to stave off another defeat.

The EU is unwilling to reopen an agreement it spent a year and a half negotiating, while British legislators remain split over whether to leave the bloc and, if so, on what terms.

Britain is due to pull out of the EU in less than three weeks, on March 29, but the government has not been able to win parliamentary approval for its agreement with the bloc on withdrawal terms and future relations. The impasse has raised fears of a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit that could mean major disruption for businesses and people in Britain and the 27 remaining EU countries.

"This is a government in chaos, with a country in chaos because of this mess," Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

May has staked her political reputation on securing an exit deal with the EU and is under mounting pressure to quit if it is defeated again. She survived a bid to oust her through a no-confidence vote in December. As a result, she cannot be forced from office for a year.

The EU is frustrated at what it sees as the inability of Britain's weak and divided government to lay out a clear vision for Brexit. It is irritated, too, that Britain is seeking changes to an agreement that May herself helped negotiate.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that the EU is "open and willing" to hold talks but that Britain needs to present new proposals for the bloc to consider.

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