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Brexit: MPs back May's bid to change deal

Brexit: MPs back May's bid to change deal

MPs have backed seeking "alternative arrangements" to replace the Irish backstop in Theresa May's Brexit plan. The proposal - put forward by Tory MP Sir Graham Brady - had the support of the government and won by 16 votes. Theresa May had urged MPs to vote in favour of it to give her a mandate to return to Brussels and re-open negotiations in order to secure a "legally binding change". But the EU has said it will not change the legal text agreed with the UK PM.
Live: Reaction after MPs' Brexit votes
MPs earlier voted to reject a no-deal Brexit, but the vote was not binding, meaning the date for exit remains 29 March.
But Labour MP Yvette Cooper's bid to delay Brexit if Mrs May does not get her Brexit deal through Parliament, which had cross-party support and was backed by Labour, was defeated.Speaking after the result, President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the withdrawal deal is "not open for re-negotiation" and "remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union".He said the EU would be willing to look at the political declaration again - the part of the deal that makes a pledge on the future relationship between the UK and the EU - and that the EU would "stand ready" to consider any "reasoned request" for an extension to the leave date of 29 March. But he concluded: "We will continue our preparations for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario."The controversial backstop element of Mrs May's original plan is the insurance policy to prevent checks on goods and people returning to the Northern Ireland border, which some MPs fear could leave the UK tied to the EU's rules indefinitely. It was a key part in seeing her Brexit deal voted down in Parliament by an historic margin earlier in January.Mrs May told the Commons there was now a "substantial and sustainable" majority in the Commons for leaving the EU with a deal, but admitted renegotiation "will not be easy".Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would now meet the prime minister - having refused to until she ruled out a no deal Brexit - to discuss the next steps. Mr Corbyn said: "Parliament has voted to remove the immediate threat of crashing out without a deal on 29 March. "After months of refusing to take the chaos of no deal off the table, the prime minister must now face the reality that no deal is not an option."
Analysis
By BBC Political Correspondent Ben Wright
MPs had the chance to take more control over the Brexit process but didn't. After a torrid two weeks for the government tonight brought some relief for its whips. Tory MPs cheered as the Dominic Grieve amendment was kicked out by a comfortable margin. It would have ensured six days of Parliamentary time for MPs to test the support of various Brexit scenarios. The government benches delighted in the defeat of Yvette Cooper's amendment too, which could have ensured a "no deal" Brexit was blocked. However, in narrowly passing the Caroline Spelman / Jack Dromey amendment MPs have said asserted they do not want a "no deal" Brexit. The government is not compelled to comply but the political point has been made. Theresa May has set herself a very high bar in the days ahead: to secure legally binding changes to a withdrawal deal EU leaders insist is closed. The prime minister's decision to return to the negotiation table was enough to swing her own Brexiteers behind the Downing Street endorsed amendment by Sir Graham Brady. It called for "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop but it's not clear what those alternative arrangements might be. The drama will now move quickly to Brussels and the government's respite might be brief.
House of Commons
Brexit
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