Brexit 'meaningful vote' to be held next week

A demonstrator holds EU and Union flags during an anti Brexit protest opposite the Houses of Parliament in London Britain

Mrs May, who was at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool to launch a 10-year plan for the NHS, said that after delaying the vote on her Brexit deal last month, she attended the European Council, where there was "some further movement from the EU".

The Prime Minister has acknowledged she is "still working on" getting further assurances from the European Union o address concerns about the backstop measure aimed at preventing a hard border with Ireland.

"If the deal is not voted on [in parliament], then we are going to be in uncharted territory", she said.

Without some activity from Brussels Mrs May is expected to lose the so-called meaningful vote, which was postponed in December when it became clear the Government would be defeated. "So far, nobody has put forward an alternative on all those issues", she said.

"However, it is the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no deal", she said.

Mrs May promised further measures specific to Northern Ireland and a greater role for Parliament, and said "we are still working on" getting extra assurances from Brussels as part of her drive to secure support for the deal.

The EU, for its part, has insisted that the withdrawal agreement can not be renegotiated but has made clear the backstop is meant only as a temporary measure of last resort.

He added: "The priority now is to await events, monitor what is happening (with) the ratification procedure on the United Kingdom side and no, there will not be any meeting between the Commission and our negotiator teams".

But there's little sign that Conservative MPs have returned from their Christmas break any more willing to vote for it.

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"Failing that, we should approach the challenge of leaving on WTO terms in a way that is realistic and sensible, but also with the optimism and self-confidence displayed by the majority of the British public".

The prime minister has said she would work to get more European Union "assurances" on the temporary nature of the backstop, but has repeatedly said that the current deal was final.

"Others across the House of Commons are so focused on their particular vision of Brexit that they risk making a flawless ideal the enemy of a good deal".

Brexit related bills now before Parliament - the Trade Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Healthcare Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the Immigration Bill and the Financial Services Bill.

Addressing opponents on both the Remain and Brexiteer wings of parliament, she said: "There are some in parliament who, despite voting in favour of holding the referendum, voting in favour of triggering Article 50 and standing on manifestos committed to delivering Brexit, now want to stop us leaving by holding another referendum". The MPs say that the move is meant to remove the threat of a no-deal Brexit by making clear no government could function effectively in such a scenario. I think the situation - as it always does - has developed, it evolves.

May told the BBC that in the coming days she will give more details about measures addressing Northern Ireland and concern over the Irish border.

It comes as a major exercise involving more than 100 lorries is being carried out in Kent to test out how to manage traffic queues near the Channel ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The trial, called Operation Brock, has seen lorries directed along the A256 towards Dover in a 20-mile journey which should take around half-an-hour.

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