May calls for UK lawmakers to back Brexit deal

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Theresa May implored lawmakers to back her European Union (EU) divorce agreement, telling them that “if this deal is not passed then Brexit could be lost.”

May — her voice reduced to a raw whisper after days of frantic Brexit diplomacy — spoke as the House of Commons began debating the deal before a vote yesterday.

She said she had secured “improvements” from the Eu to the deal that lawmakers rejected in January.

But many pro-Brexit lawmakers still think the agreement keeps Britain bound too closely to the EU and say they plan to vote against it.

Britain is due to leave the bloc in less than three weeks, on March 29.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union made “clear, far-reaching proposals” to address Britain’s concerns about its withdrawal deal.

Merkel said at a brief news conference in Berlin with visiting Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel that “today is an important day” and she will watch closely what happens in Britain this week. She stressed that “we want an orderly British withdrawal.”

She said that “we made an effort to address British sensitivities, British wishes and British concerns.” Before a British Parliament vote yesterday on the withdrawal agreement, Merkel didn’t address the assessment by Britain’s attorney general that last-minute changes secured from the EU didn’t give Britain the power to cut itself free of ties to the bloc.

Merkel deflected a question on whether she was prepared to delay the Brexit deadline. She said that the British Parliament is holding votes this week — “we will now wait for these votes and then we will decide”.

Pro-Brexit leave the European Union supporters, left, and anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporters take part in a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London. – AP