British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Germany's Angela Merkel on December 11 as she works to salvage her Brexit deal, the day after delaying a parliamentary vote on it to avoid a crushing defeat.
May's postponement of the vote on her deal to maintain close ties with the European Union after leaving in March infuriated lawmakers on all sides of the debate - from hardline Brexit supporters to those who want to remain in the EU.
The embattled British premier was due in Brussels later Tuesday for meetings with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair Thursday's summit.
The message from Europe was clear: It will give clarifications but not countenance reopening the treaty. Merkel looked on, waiting for May to exit the vehicle, while officials kept trying the door handle to extricate her.
Frustrated EU leaders were resigned to providing Theresa May with a stage for more Brexit theatrics to help convince Britain she really fought for the best divorce possible. It comes days after May postponed a vote to approve the divorce deal to avoid all-but-certain defeat.
But she also said it was "the best deal available", adding: "There's no deal available that doesn't have a backstop".
But European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that the agreement- nearly 600 pages long, highly technical and legally binding - can not be re-opened for negotiation at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday. He said he would not try to stall the vote through a parliamentary manoeuvre, talking past the 7pm deadline.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her Scottish National Party would support an attempt to topple the government and trigger a new election.
One of the main sticking points since the Brexit talks began has been how to keep goods flowing between Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom and EU member country Ireland, and May is sure to seek flexibility on this from her European partners.
"I will contest that vote with everything I've got", May said outside of 10 Downing Street, referring to the vote on her leadership that will take place from 6 p.m.to 8 p.m. local time (1 p.m. - 3 p.m. ET).
The Conservatives' mechanism for initiating leadership elections is triggered if 15 percent of MPs write a letter to a group called the 1922 Committee, indicating they have no confidence in the leader.
When pressed on the issue, she blankly said "no", suggesting the threshold of letters had not been reached, but did not elaborate.
The main opposition Labour party's Barry Gardiner, Shadow International Trade Secretary, blasted the Conservative party for "putting the resolution of their own divisions ahead of the interest of the country".
But a rising number of backbench lawmakers, along with three of the four living former prime ministers, say the only way out of the impasse may be a new referendum with an option to stay.
The EU's top court ruled this week that Britain could abandon Brexit with no consequences. He added that with the canceled vote in London "we have spiraled again into a new mess".
A schism over Europe in the Conservative Party over Britain's relationship with the European Union contributed to the fall of all three previous Conservative premiers - David Cameron, John Major and Margaret Thatcher.
"I would say that we would have a very hard time to find suitable wording to suit British needs without undermining what the Irish want to subscribe to". "Time for serious and profound reflection by both Parliament and people". "There will be a way through the present morass, there always is".
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