British Prime Minister Theresa May Secures New Terms On Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reached a deal to revise the terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, known as "Brexit." Now, she must convince the British Parliament to support the new terms.

Following late night talks in Strasbourg, France with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister May emerged to announce a series of changes designed to put an end to the tortuous negotiations that have defined the United Kingdom’s exit from the 28-country trading bloc. But it’s not yet clear whether the new wording will be enough for the British Parliament to sign off on the plan.

"The choice is clear: it is this deal, or Brexit may not happen at all," Juncker said at a joint news conference. "Let’s bring the U.K.’s withdrawal to an orderly end. We owe it to history."

For her part, May appealed to Parliament -- where her Conservative Party is bitterly divided -- to support the new deal in a crunch vote to be held on Tuesday of this week.

"Now is the time to come together, to back this improved Brexit deal, and to deliver on the instruction of the British people," she said.

With just 17 days left until the United Kingdom’s scheduled departure date, talks have been stuck on the same issue that has blocked progress for the past year: the backup plan intended to ensure there’s never any need for customs checks at the land border between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Pro-Brexit politicians in May’s political party insist that the withdrawal plan – dubbed the "backstop" -- threatens to trap the United Kingdom inside the European Union’s trade regime forever, because it would be impossible for Britain to leave.

The backstop effectively keeps Britain in the E.U.’s customs union -- and therefore unable to strike free trade deals with other countries around the world, ruining a key prize for staunch Brexit supporters. After Parliament rejected the deal in January, Prime Minister May promised to seek changes to address these concerns.

The new changes include three documents intended to provide additional legal guarantees that the United Kingdom can’t be trapped indefinitely inside the backstop arrangement. The status of these documents will be scrutinized intensively during Tuesday’s Parliamentary debate. The papers include a "unilateral declaration" setting out how the United Kingdom believes it can escape the backstop.

May’s Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is expected to set out his formal legal opinion on the changes Tuesday. Even if he changes his legal advice and endorses the new deal, May still has a huge task ahead to persuade enough members of her party to support her plan.

If Parliament rejects the deal on Tuesday, Prime Minister May has promised to give the House of Commons a vote on whether to leave the E.U. without an agreement on Wednesday. If MPs choose to veto a no-deal Brexit, they will then get a vote on whether to delay the United Kingdom’s departure from the bloc.