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UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues to prepare for Brexit by attempting to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, which she told the UK Parliament was the only deal available and which European Union representatives have made it clear they have no intention of amending further.

Most of the criticism of Mrs May's Brexit agreement has focused on the so-called backstop arrangement aimed at avoiding a hard Irish border.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the chances of a "no-deal" exit had increased, and currency traders also took that view as sterling traded around $1.3070, more than a cent down from its level before lawmakers voted on Tuesday.

Key figures in Brussels roundly rejected the PM's suggestion, as Donald Tusk insisted that the Withdrawal Agreement struck last November was not open for renegotiation. It also doesn't want to give the United Kingdom an extension to March 29 deadline without a good reason (such as committing to finding an alternative that could command a majority of MPs' support).

Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Parliament's first duty was "to block a disastrous no deal", and he believed that, whatever the outcome over the coming weeks, it was inevitable the government would have to delay Brexit, as there was not enough time to pass the necessary legislation.

Savid Javid, one of the most senior ministers in Theresa May's government has reportedly said Brexit day - legally set at the 29th of March 2019 - will likely be delayed, and is said to be questioning the wisdom of the Prime Minister still advocating the promised date in public, according to claims published by the Daily Telegraph. The government has also said it is looking at extending the hours during which parliament sits.

She said: "No one is building border checkpoints".

Guy Verhofstadt, who heads the European Parliament's six-member Brexit steering group, said the backstop clause was "absolutely needed" and there was hardly room to change the deal.

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The border area was a flashpoint during decades of conflict in Northern Ireland that cost 3,700 lives.

Therefore, the European Union - the only body with the power to make changes to May's deal - is quite reasonably not willing to reopen talks it fears would lead to naught.

The backstop and the withdrawal agreement have been supported by business bodies in Northern Ireland. Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

"She said a vote of the Brady amendment makes it clear that the current nature of the backstop is the key reason that the House can not support the deal", added the spokesman.

Many traders expected further gains for sterling on Tuesday, but instead the pound tumbled after lawmakers rejected a plan to legislate a delay to Brexit next month if May fails to secure concessions from Brussels.

"It is vitally important that politicians in Westminster understand the overwhelming wish across society in Northern Ireland not to return to the borders and division of times past", Coveney said in a speech, in a signal that the government in Dublin isn't going to soften its stance.

However, both campaigners and pro-People's Vote MPs say that this number would be grow significantly if there were no other viable means of avoiding leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement.

Some of the sharpest opposition to her plan comes from the country which would be most affected, Ireland, which, as NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, is in a very hard position.


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