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Theresa May Gets “Legally-Binding” Changes To Brexit Deal
11 March 2019, 22:18 | Updated: 11 March 2019, 22:51
Theresa May has secured “legally-binding changes” to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, her de-facto deputy has told MPs.
The Prime Minister has been in Strasbourg for last-minute talks with the EU in a bid to break the Brexit impasse.
David Lidington told the Commons late on Monday that Mrs May had won “legally-binding” changes that “strengthen” the deal.
A Political Deceleration had also been secured, he said and MPs would vote on the "improved" offer tomorrow.
"Tonight we will be laying two new documents in the House; a joint legally-biding instrument on the Withdrawal Agreement and protocol on Northern Ireland and a joint statement to supplement the political declaration," the Cabinet Office minister added.
"The first provides confirmation that the EU cannot try to trap the UK in the backstop indefinitely and that doing so would be an explicit breach of the legally-binding commitments that both sides have agreed."
He continued that the "joint instrument" reflects the commitment to "replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020".
Mr Lidington added the Attorney General would be publishing advice ahead of Tuesday's debate, but needed time to consider the new changes.
"The Attorney General will publish his legal opinion," he said. "That will be available in good time before the debate.
"I think the house would expect the Attorney General to consider very carefully rather than rush an opinion out to meet the deadline for this statement this evening."
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the change "adds nothing" from the letter Mrs May returned from negotiations with on January 14.
He said: "If all that's happening is to turn this letter into an interpretative tool for legal purposes, I remind the House what the Prime Minister said on January 14 about this letter.
"She said she had been advised this letter would have legal force in international law.
"To stand here today and say this is a significant change when she's repeating what she said on January 14 is not going to take anyone here far."