The future of Britain’s exit from the European Union hung in the balance on Tuesday as lawmakers prepared to vote on a divorce deal after Prime Minister Theresa May won last-minute assurances from the EU.

Scrambling to plot an orderly path out of the Brexit maze just days before the UK is due to leave, May rushed to Strasbourg on Monday to agree `legally binding’ assurances with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Theresa May
Theresa May

British lawmakers, who on Jan. 15 voted 432 to 202 against her deal, were studying the assurances with lawyers.

The government’s top lawyer, Geoffrey Cox, is due to give his opinion ahead of the vote due around 1900 GMT.

“We have secured legal changes,” May said in news conference in Strasbourg beside Juncker, 17 days before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29.

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

“It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all,” he said.

Sterling rose 1.5 per cent against the dollar and to a near two-year high against the euro.

If lawmakers vote down May’s deal, she has promised a vote on Wednesday on whether to leave without a deal and, if they reject that, then a vote on whether to ask for a limited delay to Brexit.

The UK’s labyrinthine crisis over EU membership is approaching its finale with an array of possible outcomes.

They include a delay, a last-minute deal, a no-deal Brexit, a snap election or even another referendum.

Brexit would pitch the world’s fifth largest economy into the unknown.

There are fear this would divide the West as it grapples with both the unconventional U.S. presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China.


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