May urges UK lawmakers: Give me more time to get Brexit deal

European Council President Donald Tusk

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London after winning a confidence vote on 12 December 2018.

He said he believed the prime minister was "pretending to make progress" but actually meant to return to Parliament after the March 21/22 European Council summit the week before Brexit and offer MPs a "binary choice" - her deal or no deal.

If May succeeds in winning changes to her Brexit deal in the next few days she could bring it back for a debate and vote before February 14, and this more general debate would not go ahead.

She'll say that if she hasn't brought them new deal by February 27, there will then be another opportunity to vote, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire confirmed in an interview.

'And for the country to do that, as Theresa May wants to do - to leave without knowing what Brexit you get - this would be, in my view, an incredibly foolish thing for the country to do.

On Thursday - Valentine's Day - MPs will consider a motion on Brexit and a series of amendments, likely to include shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer's attempt to impose a new deadline for a vote on the deal.

The government will give parliament another chance to debate the issue by February 27 using the same format described above, if a deal has not been agreed before then. It is that promise that led to this week's vote.

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May will meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker again before the end of February "to take stock" of talks. The former Labour leader told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "No one could responsibly propose (a no-deal Brexit)".

The opposition Labour party has denounced May's strategy as time wasting aimed at forcing parliament to vote through a deal at the last moment.

Should the prime minster fail in her bid to secure concessions from the European Union before her speech, she plans to ask for more time and promise a vote on other Brexit options at the end of February, the Sunday Telegraph and other British media report.

May's Brexit minister Stephen Barkley will meet European Union negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt will visit Paris and Warsaw this week.

The sides are stuck on the issue of how to keep the Irish border open after Britain leaves.

That leaves May battling to persuade a reluctant European Union to look again at the Irish backstop - a fallback policy created to prevent the resurrection of a hard border in Ireland if talks to find a long-term trade arrangement fail.

May's Northern Irish coalition party also argue that it will splinter their province from mainland Britain.

May has been trying to win a legal assurance giving Britain the right eventually to drop the backstop and negotiate its own trade deals.

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