European Union attempts to give Brexit reassurances ahead of a crunch vote

Pro-European Union demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London against the first vote today on a bill to end Britain's membership of the EU

British and European Union diplomats are now working on the assumption that the United Kingdom will leave the bloc later than the planned exit date of March 29 if Prime Minister Theresa May loses Tuesday's Brexit deal vote in Parliament.

If, as widely expected, May loses Tuesday's vote, she will live to fight another day.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to call for a final say on the Government's Brexit plan, just hours before a crunch vote by MPs.

Those tabled include one by the Labour MP and chairman of the Commons Exiting the EU Committee Hilary Benn meant to block both Mrs May's deal and a no-deal Brexit.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would consult "senior parliamentarians", not the opposition leader, on a deal based on the same principles of taking control of "money, borders, laws" with "an independent trade policy". She has also spoken to Germany's Angela Merkel twice in recent weeks.

Led by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party now holds 257 seats in the House of Commons. Of those, around 100 are government ministers and Conservative Party enforcers, or whips, who are required to support the deal and so are not included in the tally.

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Mr Corbyn had announced a few days ago that should Mrs May lose the meaningful vote in Parliament, the no confidence motion would be proposed "soon". Mrs May lost by 230 votes - the greatest defeat of a government ever.

"I think it's important that we allow the British political system the time to make that decision", he said.

"The Brexit deal is basically dead", said Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King's College London.

Responding to the Government defeat, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: "Brexit is becoming a national humiliation".

Theresa May has urged MPs to take "a second look" at the Brexit deal that she negotiated with the European Union, suggesting a referendum on a united Ireland would become more likely if they rejected it.

But if the request is just to spend more time asking for assurances from the European Union that the bloc has already said it will not give, the EU-27 might be more reluctant to give more than a few months more to May.

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"If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?"

"While we do not want this to happen, the European Commission will continue its contingency work to help ensure the EU is fully prepared", he said.

Heavily pregnant Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, who postponed her planned Caesarean in order to vote, attended the Commons in a wheelchair.

"I'm very much aware that the events and the votes of last week present a present danger to Brexit".

Optimism rose among anti-Brexit campaigners that they could overturn the "Leave" vote from the 2016 referendum, with many pinning their hopes on a new so-called people's vote to end the parliamentary deadlock.

Scenarios should May suffer a defeat today include her resignation, renewed general elections, an extension to the Article 50 process, a public referendum on the deal or a no-deal Brexit.

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Facing opposition from pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party and its DUP allies, May sought to win opposition Labour Party lawmakers' support by promising that the government won't try to water down environmental standards and workers' rights after Brexit.

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