As Brexit debate starts, May suffers damaging setbacks

As Brexit debate starts, May suffers damaging setbacks

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LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May suffered embarrassing blows on Tuesday at the start of five days of debate over her plans to leave the European Union that could determine the future of Brexit and the fate of her government.
May wants to secure parliament’s approval for her deal to keep close ties with the EU after leaving in March, but opposition is fierce, with Brexit supporters and opponents alike wanting if not to derail, then to thwart her plan.
That opposition was writ large at the beginning of the debate, before the main vote on Dec. 11, when her government was found in contempt of parliament and then a group of her own Conservative Party MPs won a challenge to hand more power to the House of Commons if her deal is voted down.
That could reduce the risk of Britain leaving the EU without any deal, prompting sterling to recover some of its losses after the vote on contempt drove it down to levels not seen since June last year.
The debates and final vote on Dec. 11 are crucial in determining how, and possibly even if, Britain leaves the EU as planned on March 29, in the country’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.
Her plans are vulnerable to more change over the days of debate, and advice from a senior EU legal aide that Britain had the right to withdraw its Brexit notice opened yet another front in May’s battle to win the approval of parliament.
So far, May is standing firm.
“We need to deliver a Brexit that respects the decision of the British people,” she told MPs after suffering the defeats. “This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics and life depends on compromise.”

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