UK PM's team says Brexit vote to go ahead
A parliamentary vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal will go ahead on December 11, her office says, despite suggestions May should seek to avoid a huge defeat that might bring down the government
May has been trying to win over critics of an agreement that would keep close economic ties with the EU when Britain leaves in March.
However her warnings that it's her deal, no deal, or no Brexit have fallen flat so far.
With parliament mid-way through a five-day debate on the Brexit deal before the vote on Tuesday, May looks set to lose the vote.
A defeat could open up a series of different outcomes to Britain's departure from the EU, the country's biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years.
The possibilities range from leaving without the deal to holding a second referendum on EU membership.
The Times newspaper reported that senior ministers were urging May to delay the vote for fear of a rout.
Several MPs said they suspected the government may try something to postpone what would be a game-changing defeat, the newspaper said.
However May's office was firm.
"The vote will take place on Tuesday as planned," the prime minister's spokeswoman said.
Some MPs have called on May to change the deal, and have suggested she could use an EU summit next week to try to win some concessions from officials to try to ease some of their concerns.
But EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday the deal was the best Britain will get.
British finance minister Philip Hammond said it was "simply a delusion" to think the agreement could be renegotiated if parliament rejects it.
May has toured the country and television studios to try to sell her deal, and on Thursday she used an interview on BBC radio to press on with her bid to persuade lawmakers to back her deal.
"There are three options: one is to leave the European Union with a deal ... the other two are that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all," she said.
In one potential concession, May said that she recognised there were concerns among lawmakers about the Northern Irish backstop and that she was looking at whether parliament could be given a greater role in deciding whether to trigger it.
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