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May wins Brexit assurances from EU as deadline looms

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May won legally binding Brexit assurances from the European Union, in a last ditch attempt to sway rebellious British lawmakers who have threatened to vote down her divorce deal again.

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Scrambling to plot an orderly path out of the Brexit maze just days before the United Kingdom is due to leave on March 29, May rushed to Strasbourg to agree additional assurances with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Brexiteers in May’s party have accused her of surrendering to the EU, and it was not clear if the assurances she agreed would be enough to win over the 116 additional lawmakers she needs reverse the crushing defeat her deal suffered on January 15.

“Today we have secured legal changes,” May said in a late night news conference in Strasbourg beside Juncker, exactly 17 days before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU.

“Now is the time to come together to back this improved Brexit deal and to deliver on the instruction of the British people,” she said.

May announced three documents – a joint instrument, a joint statement and a unilateral declaration – which she said were aimed at addressing the most contentious part of the divorce deal she agreed in November – the Irish backstop.

The backstop is an insurance policy aimed at avoiding controls on the sensitive border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, though some British lawmakers worry it could trap the United Kingdom in the EU’s orbit indefinitely.

-AAP

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