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UK PM May suffers blow ahead of big Brexit vote

14 March 2019

An influential pro-Brexit faction of members of parliament in Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives said on Tuesday it would not be voting for her Brexit deal as the assurances received from the European Union did not meet the tests the government set itself.

May flew to Strasbourg, France, late Monday for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The leaders of the 28 member states will meet next week on March 21 for a long-planned European Council summit, but officials say there will be no third chance to rejig a deal already rejected once by Westminster lawmakers.

But a legal opinion commissioned from three senior lawyers by the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum said there was "no basis" for Mr Cox to alter his advice on the indefinite nature of the backstop.

In a last-minute dash to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Monday night, May emerged alongside European Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker to declare that the United Kingdom and EU have agreed "legally binding" changes to the controversial Irish backstop clause to ensure any such arrangement would not be permanent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, said Tuesday that the latest European Union offer on Brexit was "clear and far-reaching", hours before the British parliament was set to vote on it.

"The further texts agreed yesterday provide additional clarity, reassurance and guarantees sought by some to eliminate doubt or fears, however unreal, that the goal of some was to trap the United Kingdom indefinitely in the backstop", said Varadkar.

After two-and-a-half years of haggling since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Juncker cautioned that this was the last chance for Britain.

"Let's be crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all", he said.

The pound, which had risen on hopes the deal would be passed, slumped by more than one per cent against the dollar after Cox's assessment, to trade at US$1.3108.

The UK's tortuous crisis over European Union membership is approaching its finale with an extraordinary array of outcomes still possible, including a delay, a last-minute deal, a no-deal Brexit, a snap election or even another referendum.

They have been demanding that the agreement does not keep the United Kingdom locked in the Irish backstop - an insurance policy to guarantee no return to a hard border in Ireland - indefinitely.

GBP/AUD Outlook: Sterling Could Plummet Further if May's Deal is Rejected "Aussie" traders will be looking ahead to the publication of the Chinese FDI foreign direct investment figures for February tomorrow, and with China being Australia's largest trading partner, any signs of an increase could prove beneficial to the Australian Dollar.

But he warned that the question of whether a satisfactory agreement on a future UK/EU relationship can be reached remains "a political judgment".

Will the DUP back Theresa May's Brexit deal?

"If Geoffrey Cox is at all equivocal about it then I think it will fall again".

The immediate reaction was cautious from Brexit-supporting lawmakers and from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up her minority government. His advice in December said the same thing.

"It would be very hard for the prime minister to stay in office for very much longer", Morgan told the BBC.

Cox's legal opinion came as I was on air live with my latest trader sentiment webinar so I discussed the markets' reaction as well as market sentiment more generally.

UK PM May suffers blow ahead of big Brexit vote