British vote raises risk of disorderly Brexit — EU leader Juncker

Campaigners have called for Article 50 to be revoked

The issue is arguably straight-forward: a majority of Brexiteer MPs do not want the backstop, fearing that it may leave the United Kingdom indefinitely tied to the EU.

If May does not get a deal approved by parliament by March 29, Britain faces a disorderly exit, or may be forced to seek an extension of Article 50 to give more time to reach an agreement.

The Prime Minister told MPs "there are a number of proposals" for doing so.

The EU is keen not to be blamed for a no-deal Brexit or the breakdown in talks and would want to avoid the perception that May has finally found a parliamentary majority, but the inflexibility of EU member states had then stopped her from achieving a deal. The EU Parliament debated the issue, and the outcome appears to be a stalemate, with both sides digging their heels in and accusing the other's rigidity for a no-deal outcome dangerously close to reality. "People will be anxious about what the future holds".

It is an insurance policy included in the withdrawal agreement which aims to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of no deal.

Seeking a Commons majority to reverse that humiliation, the government backed an amendment from the chairman of the Tory 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. That backstop plan was an "insurance policy", meant to confirm that there will be no return to a visible border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Britain leaves the EU.

May's intention to go back to Brussels and ask European Union countries to open up the already agreed withdrawal agreement nevertheless puts the European Union in an awkward position, described as a "Catch 22" by one official.

"The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement", a spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday night. "Do that and I can fight for a backstop that honours our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland in a way this House can support". However, the following day, her government survived a no-confidence vote, meaning whilst no-one liked her deal, most were keen to keep her and her cabinet in power to get a deal done.

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"If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit".

In London, Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that her government hasn't decided exactly how it will try to change the deal to address British lawmakers' concerns about the Irish border.

Juncker told European parliamentarians in Brussels "the withdrawal agreement remains the best and only deal possible".

"Negotiating such a change will not be easy - it will involve re-opening the withdrawal agreement - a move for which I know there is limited appetite among our European partners".

Juncker repeated the position European Union leaders that the backstop arrangement can not be time-limited as it would not then provide a safe option to fall back on. And that is the plan drafted by a group of Conservative MPs with very different views on Brexit.

The unlikely pair are key figures behind a proposal that emerged overnight on Monday in a bid to unify the Conservative Party.

The Green MP Caroline Lucas accused the Prime Minister of chasing "heated up fantasies that have already been rejected by the EU".

Verhofstadt said: "What needs to stop is this: an amendment with 10 votes for, then an amendment with 10 votes against, an amendment that barely pulls through, one that fails". Opponents say voters may have changed their minds now that the details are becoming clearer.

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