Pound wobbles after May's Brexit deal is rejected again

Nigel Dodds deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party speaks outside the Cabinet Office in London's Whitehall. Jonathan Brady  PA Wire

Nigel Dodds deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party speaks outside the Cabinet Office in London's Whitehall. Jonathan Brady PA Wire

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has dealt a serious blow to Theresa May's hopes of getting her Brexit deal through parliament, writing in new legal advice that the risk of being trapped in the Irish border backstop remains "unchanged" despite last-minute assurances.

Her initial 585-page deal with Brussels on unwinding Britain's European Union membership suffered an overwhelming defeat at the hands of MPs in January and its success or failure on Tuesday depends on the view of Brexit hardliners in parliament.

While a few parliamentarians have intimated they will change their minds, it will probably not be enough for the government deal to pass.

And if that is turned down MPs will have a third vote in three days on whether to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit.

Sterling slipped 0.6 per cent to US$1.3071, after earlier falling as much as low as US$1.3005.

Alan Wager, a Brexit expert at the U.K.in a Changing Europe think tank, said Parliament this week could decisively rule out both May's deal and a no-deal departure.

Mrs May flew into Strasbourg late on Monday for a last-ditch effort to salvage a deal with the EU.

Sky News reports that not all of the DUP MPs are "on the same page" in regard to how the party will vote on Tuesday evening's meaningful vote.

Does Theresa May have the votes in the House of Commons? The party released a statement later saying, "In our view, sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time".

She claims the changes now means the Irish backstop - the insurance policy created to avoid a hard border in Ireland - could not "become permanent".

"In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the government's motion today", William Cash, a senior pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker said in a statement.

Brexiteer Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns tweeted a picture of Geoffrey Cox's legal advice document and wrote: "The Attorney Generals advice is that the legal risk remains unchanged". While Mr. Cox said the legal risk of the United Kingdom being stuck in the backstop had been reduced, it would still be nearly impossible for the country to get out of the provision.

It came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox separately ruled that changes the prime minister negotiated in Strasbourg on Monday night "reduce the risk" the United Kingdom becomes trapped in the arrangement by the European Union, but do not eliminate it entirely. Short of that, there was no way out.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: "The Attorney General has confirmed that there have been no significant changes to the Withdrawal Agreement despite the legal documents that were agreed last night. The Government's strategy is now in tatters".

With the approaching deadline intensifying fears that economic and personal turmoil might follow a "no-deal" withdrawal by Britain, Parliament voted 321-278 Wednesday to rule out the possibility. It says if no other solution is found, Britain will remain in a customs union with the EU in order to keep the Irish border open. However, EU officials have said that while they might consider a delay, they won't make any further concessions to the agreement.