UK PM Theresa May said Tuesday she had secured last-minute “legally binding” changes in the Brexit deal and will put the amended deal to the vote later in the day. In talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, May secured changes meaning that the Irish backstop, the insurance policy for avoiding a hard border with Ireland, would not become permanent; and the two parties were jointly committed to replace the backstop with an alternative by December 2020. Juncker warned there would be no “third chance.” If the MPs vote down the amended deal too, they will be confronted with exiting the EU without a deal. March 29 is the deadline for Brexit to go into effect.
Note on backstop: There is no current “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, i.e., no restrictions on the crossings of people and goods in keeping with the historic UK-Irish peace treaty. The Irish backstop is designed to ensure that open borders continue after the UK leaves the EU while keeping Britain inside the EU’s customs union.