Brexit: MPs continue EU withdrawal deal debate" width="976" height="549">
MPs will continue debating Theresa May's Brexit deal, as she bids to build support for it ahead of Tuesday's vote.Friday will see the third of five days of debate on the EU withdrawal agreement, which has been opposed by more than 100 Conservative MPs.Theresa May called two union leaders on Thursday and has met some Labour MPs in a bid to build support.But Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has stepped up calls for a general election to "break the deadlock".
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Labour is set to oppose the deal in a key Commons vote next week and if, as widely expected, it is defeated, they are expected to start moves to trigger a general election.
On Thursday it emerged that the government is considering backing an amendment from Labour Leave supporter John Mann, giving extra protections to workers and the environment, in a bid to win support.A number of Labour MPs in Leave-supporting constituencies back Mr Mann's amendment, which the MP said would open up the opportunity for other improvements to the prime minister's deal.Mrs May also called the general secretaries of Unite and the GMB - Len McCluskey and Tim Roache - on Thursday, for what her spokesman described as "constructive" calls. Mr Roache said he was glad the PM had "finally picked up the phone" but that her deal was not "good enough".
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But a Conservative MP who had been expected to reject the deal, George Freeman, said during Thursday's debate that he would now back it "with a heavy heart" because, he said, the prospect of leaving without a deal was "unconscionable".And Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said after talks with Mrs May that the "whole world" hoped a no-deal Brexit would be avoided.The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March.The withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU - covering things like the "divorce bill", expat citizens' rights and a 20-month transition period - will only come into force if MPs back it in a vote.A no-deal Brexit would see the UK leave without a withdrawal agreement and start trading with the EU on the basis of World Trade Organization rules, an outcome favoured by some Brexiteers.
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