“Do your duty”; Theresa May tells MPs ahead of fresh votes on Brexit

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LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the UK remained “firmly on course” to leave the EU with a deal “if MPs hold their nerve”.

After her Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last month, the prime minister has been trying to seek assurances from the EU to address MPs’ concerns, BBC has reported.

She is still in talks with Brussels over the Irish backstop policy in her plan – which aims to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland – and has assured MPs they will get to vote again on the deal by 12 March – just 17 days before the UK’s scheduled leaving date.

However, on Tuesday, Mrs May bowed to pressure to accept that the 29 March deadline might not be achievable, and promised MPs a vote on whether or not to delay Brexit or rule out leaving the EU without a deal if her plan is rejected for a second time.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the prime minister stressed that she did not want to see the Article 50 process extended and her “absolute focus” was on getting a deal in place for 29 March.

The prime minister’s critics have accused her of “kicking the can down the road”, but she insisted her efforts to persuade the EU to make concessions had “already begun to bear fruit”.

Later there will be a debate on the next steps for Brexit after 12 amendments – alternative plans – were tabled by MPs.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the government will back the Costa amendment, which seeks to protect the rights of UK citizens in the EU, and vice versa, regardless of the outcome of UK-EU negotiations.

The amendment – tabled by Conservative MP Alberto Costa – has gained significant cross-party backing from 141 MPs – including leading Tory Brexiteers and Remainers.