+++ Britain decides on Brexit — live updates +++


British Parliament is preparing to vote on a draft Brexit deal secured by Prime Minister Theresa May and EU negotiators. But opposition lawmakers, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, have vowed to oppose it despite the EU’s latest clarifications.

What you need to know:

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured “legally binding” guarantees to the Irish backstop from the EU in a bid to convince lawmakers to support her draft Brexit deal.
  • Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has said that although the clarifications reduce the UK’s risk, it doesn’t change the “legal risk” that the backstop could prevent the UK from exiting the deal. It deals a blow to May’s attempt to secure votes from Brexiteers in favor of her deal.
  • The leader of the DUP, the North Irish junior coalition party, has said it needs time to decide whether to vote in favor of the deal and may push for the vote to be delayed.

Read more: Brexit: Is the end nigh?

All updates in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)

11:41 — Owen Paterson, a Tory MP and leading Brexiteer, said Cox’s legal opinion is “brutally clear.” He added that “the legal risk remains unchanged,” referring to the attorney general’s remarks.

11:25 — Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said that while the latest clarifications could reduce the UK’s risk of an indefinite backstop, “the legal risk remains unchanged.” As such, Cox did not revise his previous statement that the backstop leaves little legal room for the UK to exit the agreement.

Cox’s legal opinion sent the British Pound’s value down after it had made significant gains in response to May’s announcement of the changes.

11:14 — House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said there will only be one government oral statements in parliament ahead of the vote. She noted it will be the attorney general’s legal opinion on the latest clarifications secured by May.

Read more: UK PM: Brexit vote to proceed as planned

10:29 — Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that the latest documents put forward by EU negotiators and May add an “additional layer of interpretation, clarification and elaboration to the UK.”

“It does not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, or undermine the backstop of its application,” Varadkar said in a tweet.” It says that we will work together, in good faith in pursuit of a future relationship that ensures that the objectives of the Protocol, particularly the need to avoid a hard border, are met.”

Read more: Brexit: Why is the Irish backstop so controversial?

10:11 — Former Brexit minister David Davis said Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal opinion on the EU’s latest “legal” changes to a draft Brexit deal will be crucial for the vote to pass. “It is critical that he confirms we can escape this backstop,” Davis said in a tweet.

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ls/ (Reuters, AFP, AP)