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May Battles to Keep Brexit on Track after No-Confidence Win

by Gregory Katz and Frank Griffiths
Thursday Jan 17, 2019
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to speak outside 10 Downing street in London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to speak outside 10 Downing street in London, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019  (Source:AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

British Prime Minister Theresa May is reaching out to opposition parties and other lawmakers Thursday in a battle to keep Brexit on track after surviving a no-confidence vote.

European Union countries are also debating on how to move forward now that the U.K. Parliament has rejected May's Brexit deal with the bloc and with the March 29 exit date looming.

Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the deal on Tuesday night, in a crushing defeat for May. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately called for a no-confidence vote, but May's government survived it on Wednesday night.

May invited opposition leaders for talks about how best to avoid leaving the EU without an agreement. But Corbyn has so far declined to meet with May unless she takes the "no-deal" possibility off the table.

EU countries have generally reacted to the Brexit political crisis unfolding in the U.K. by putting the onus on the British government and its lawmakers to decide what they want to do.

Some British lawmakers want May to call for an extension of negotiations with the EU and postpone the March 29 deadline to leave the bloc, while others are lobbying for a second Brexit referendum. The prime minister has so far rejected those options.

France's prime minister is a holding a special government meeting Thursday on how his country will cope with a possible "no-deal" Brexit.

The French parliament adopted a law Wednesday allowing emergency measures after March 30 in the event Britain leaves without a deal.

Such measures could aim to reduce problems in cross-border trade and transport, notably through the Eurotunnel beneath the English Channel, and allow British workers and retirees based in France temporary permission to stay until a longer-term deal is worked out.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was expected in Lisbon, Portugal, where he was due to meet with local officials and give a news conference Thursday. Barnier said Wednesday in Strasbourg he was more concerned than ever about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without an agreement.

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Angela Charlton in Paris, and Barry Hatton, in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.

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