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Significant hurdles the PM May will still have to clear to clinch Brexit deal


Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May

AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May

• Back to Brussels

Theresa May returns to Brussels today for a summit, with the heads of the 27 remaining states expected to hear from Mrs May and adopt conclusions on the next steps.

The Prime Minister wants further concessions about the backstop. She has suggested the government is looking at how to give it "democratic legitimacy" through giving MPs a vote on it and enabling the Commons to force the government to ensure it cannot be in place "indefinitely".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has stressed that the Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated, but "further clarifications" are possible - measures unlikely to go far enough to win over Tory Eurosceptics.

Finally facing the Commons

The decision to postpone a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, which was due to go ahead on Tuesday, was instrumental in persuading Tory critics to trigger the confidence motion.

The Prime Minister cannot avoid facing the Commons indefinitely if she wants an agreement in place by the UK's departure date from the European Union on March 29, 2019.

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Mrs May has promised to bring the deal, with any late tweaks she can secure in Brussels, back to MPs by January 21.

A Commons motion of no confidence in the government

Labour did not table a motion of no confidence after Mrs May pulled the Commons vote on her Brexit deal, preferring to wait while Tory MPs fought among themselves.

But other opposition parties at Westminster have called on Jeremy Corbyn to table a confidence motion "before it is too late" for Parliament to take control of the Brexit process.

The DUP, whose 10 MPs the Tories rely on for a majority, has promised to support the government in a confidence motion if Mrs May's Brexit plan is scrapped or defeated.

But DUP support is not tied to Mrs May personally and they would not back her if she sought to press ahead with her deal.

If most MPs back a motion of no confidence, it would start a countdown which could lead to an early election. Unless a government can win a confidence vote within 14 days, there would be another general election.

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