May Mounts Last-Minute Brexit Push

May Mounts Last-Minute Brexit Push

LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Theresa May planned to tell lawmakers Monday that she has received further assurances about her Brexit deal from the European Union, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off a crushing defeat for the unpopular agreement.

May is due to make a statement in the House of Commons on the eve of a vote set for Tuesday in Parliament on her EU divorce deal.

May argues that defeating the deal could open the way for pro-EU legislators to block Brexit, with "catastrophic" results for Britons' faith in democracy.

The country voted by 52 percent to 48 percent in a 2016 referendum to leave the 28-nation bloc.

In a speech Monday at a factory in the central England city of Stoke-on-Trent, May plans to say that "people's faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm" if her deal is rejected and Brexit is abandoned.

"We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum," May will say, according to extracts released in advance by her office.

Britain and the EU reached a hard-won divorce deal in November, but the agreement has run aground in the U.K. Parliament. May postponed a vote on the deal in December to avoid a resounding defeat, and there are few signs the deal has picked up much support since then.

Several previously opposed legislators have swung behind the agreement in the last few days, but they remain outnumbered by those determined to vote against it.

Defeat on Tuesday would throw Brexit plans into disarray, weeks before the U.K. is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

Without a deal, Britain faces an abrupt break from the EU, a scenario economists warn could batter the economy and bring chaotic scenes at borders, ports and airports.

If May's deal is rejected, she has until the following Monday to come back to Parliament with a new proposal.

So far, May has refused publicly to speculate on a possible "Plan B."

Some lawmakers are exploring ways to use parliamentary procedure to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government, so that lawmakers by majority vote could specify a new plan for Britain's EU exit.

But with no clear majority in Parliament for any single alternate course, there is a growing chance that Britain may seek to postpone its departure date while politicians work on a new plan.