With just over two weeks until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, the British parliament is heading for a key vote on the Brexit deal.
MPs will cast a second “meaningful vote” on Tuesday at around 19:00 GMT after Prime Minister Theresa May made a last-minute trip to Strasbourg on Monday for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
After weeks of impasse, the two leaders announced late in the evening that an agreement had been reached around the nature of the so-called backstop, the “insurance policy” protocol of the withdrawal agreement designed to keep an open border in the island of Ireland.
May had been tasked by Parliament to renegotiate it after MPs overwhelmingly rejected her deal by a margin of 230 last January.
The deadlock had made the prospect of a no-deal Brexit more likely, raising concerns there would have serious consequences for the British economy and people, and to a lesser extent the EU.
May said on Monday evening that she had achieved the “legally-binding” changes to the backstop she had been seeking to quell the concerns of hardline Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – the PM’s ally in Northern Ireland.
They have argued that the backstop would tie the UK to EU’s trade rules indefinitely and are opposed to Northern Ireland being treated differently from the rest of the UK.
It remains to be seen whether the changes announced will reassure those MPs, who had wanted to see either a time limit on the backstop, or a unilateral exit clause for the UK.