BBritish Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament on Tuesday she plans to ask the European Union to change the terms of Britain's Brexit divorce from the continent's 28-member bloc of nations.
EU leaders have ruled out renegotiation and the House of Commons two weeks ago rejected her plan to leave the EU on March 29. But she asked parliamentarians for a mandate to renegotiate "alternative arrangements" related to the free flow of people and commerce between Ireland, an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain.
"Today we have the chance to show the European Union what it will take to get a deal through this House of Commons, what it will take to move beyond the confusion and division and uncertainty that hangs over us," May said.
British lawmakers are voting Tuesday on competing Brexit proposals offered by both pro-Brexit and pro-EU legislators.
Without an agreement in place, Britain faces a "no-deal" Brexit departure. Such an outcome, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel in Washington on Tuesday, "would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the [United Kingdom] and Europe."
Parliamentarians overwhelmingly rejected May's original Brexit deal with the EU but are uncertain what to propose instead. Business leaders are worried that a no-deal Brexit would lead to economic chaos.
"The time has come for words to be matched by deeds," May said. "If you want to tell Brussels what this House will accept, you have to vote for it. If you want to leave with a deal, you have to vote for it. If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit. The odds of success become far longer if this House ties one hand behind my back. So I call on the House to give me the mandate I need to deliver a deal this House can support. Do that and I can work to reopen the withdrawal agreement."
British opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believes the British government would have to delay its Brexit departure for three months to allow for more negotiations.
The pact defeated two weeks ago took British and EU negotiators 18 months to reach. Since then, May has pledged to go forward with the agreement and seek some changes to earn the necessary support.
One proposal would address one of the biggest concerns among those who oppose the agreement. They do not want a so-called backstop provision that would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU in order to keep open the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
May's Conservative Party is now supporting what it calls "alternative arrangements" to overcome the concerns about tying Britain's policies to EU rules.
What is not certain is whether those changes would be enough to win over a majority of parliament. There also is the question of whether the European Union would agree to alter the agreement, something its leaders have repeatedly said throughout the debate in Britain they have no intention of doing.