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UK parliament to vote on May's Brexit withdrawal deal Friday

Alkis Konstantinidis, REUTERS | A pro-Brexit supporter holds placards outside the Houses of Parliament in London on March 28, 2019.

The speaker of Britain's House of Commons has cleared the path for lawmakers to debate and vote Friday on Prime Minister Theresa May's EU withdrawal agreement, which parliament has already overwhelmingly rejected twice.

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Parliament will vote on the 585-page agreement, which sets out the terms of Britain's departure from the European Union.

But lawmakers will not be voting on a shorter declaration on future ties that is also part of the divorce deal between the UK and the EU.

The removal of the political declaration from debate is an attempt to alter the Brexit deal enough to overcome a ban on asking lawmakers the same question multiple times.

"The motion is new, substantially different," said speaker John Bercow, clearing the way for Friday's vote.

Parliament speaker: 'The motion is new, substantially different'

A further parliamentary vote would still be required to implement Brexit before Britain can leave the EU.

Andrea Leadsom, who represents the government in parliament, said voting through the divorce deal would comply with the conclusions of an EU summit last week which allow for Brexit to be delayed until May 22.

The offer was conditional on the deal being accepted by 2300 GMT on Friday -- originally planned as the Brexit date.

"I encourage all MPs to support and ensure that we leave the EU on May 22, giving people and businesses the certainty they need," Leadsom said.

Analysis 'The political declaration and withdrawal agreement were meant to go together'

May pledged Wednesday night that she would resign if the deal was approved, in hopes of blunting opposition from lawmakers in her Conservative Party who have criticised her leadership.

May has been under mounting pressure to quit from pro-Brexit Conservatives, who accuse her of negotiating a bad divorce deal that leaves Britain too closely tied to the bloc after it leaves.

Some prominent opponents, including former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, quickly said they would back the Brexit agreement, but Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it remained opposed because of concern that the deal treats the region differently from other parts of the UK.

In a blow to the government's chances of winning Friday's vote, ITV's Robert Peston said DUP sources had confirmed they would vote against the withdrawal agreement.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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