Britain’s May weathers new challenges on Brexit plan

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gestures during an industry roundtable. AFP

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May withstood new attempts to force concessions on her blueprint for leaving the EU on the second day of a parliamentary debate that is deepening divisions over Brexit.

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Ms May has been weakened by losing the Conservative Party’s majority in a June election and faces hostility from many lawmakers, including some Conservatives, to various parts of the EU withdrawal bill which requires parliamentary approval.

All attempts to amend the bill, on severing ties with the EU, have been voted down so far, but a debate next month on precisely when Britain should leave, and whether a time should be set at all, is be to test her authority.

Ms May urged lawmakers to work together ahead of a debate on several amendments aimed at entrenching EU protections on a wide range of issues from the environment to workers’ rights.

“We will be leaving the EU on the 19th of March, 2019, and of course there is a lively debate going on in this place and that’s right and proper, and that’s important,” Ms May said during the weekly prime minister’s question time.

“We are listening carefully to those who wish to improve the bill and I hope that we can all come together to deliver on the decision that the country took that we should leave the EU.”

The debates are likely to last for weeks on a bill seen by Ms May as crucial to give companies confidence that there will be no major legal changes that affect business when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

On the first day of debate on Tuesday, lawmakers broke down party lines in turning on each other with catcalls, jeers and accusations of treachery.

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