British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday sought to salvage a Brexit deal but headed toward a clash with the European Union by promising to overhaul the divorce deal she spent a year and a half negotiating with the bloc. Trying to break the Brexit deadlock, May urged lawmakers to send the EU an "emphatic message" that they would not accept an Irish border guarantee in the withdrawal deal—a provision May and the EU both approved late last year, reports the AP. The Brexit process has grown increasingly surreal since Parliament rejected May's divorce deal two weeks ago, leaving Britain lurching toward a cliff-edge "no-deal" departure from the bloc on March 29. The House of Commons was debating and voting Tuesday on competing proposals for next steps that have been submitted by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators.
EU leaders have ruled out any renegotiation of the Brexit deal, but May urged Parliament to back a call for the border measure to be replaced by unspecified "alternative arrangements." May, who planned to call EU leaders, insisted her agreement could still win Parliament's backing if it was tweaked to alleviate concerns about the Irish border measure, known as the backstop. The backstop would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU in order to remove the need for checks along the border between the UK's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Britain leaves the bloc. Opposition by pro-Brexit lawmakers, who fear the backstop will trap Britain in regulatory lockstep with the EU, helped sink May's deal on Jan. 15, when Parliament rejected it in a 432 to 202 vote. May said if she has not struck a new Brexit deal by Feb. 13, Parliament would get to vote, again, on what should happen next. (The Queen has weighed in.)