Brexit Secretary: Crunch commons vote to go ahead amid criticism and protests

The pound dropped sharply across the board hitting a three-month low versus the euro and nearing US$1.26 against the dollar its weakest since mid-2017

Brexit Secretary: Crunch commons vote to go ahead amid criticism and protests

She said: "The Prime Minister spoke to numerous leaders over the weekend".

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives back at 10 Downing Street.

"And that's why it's important that ministers are out speaking with communities across the United Kingdom today about how the deal works for them", the prime minister said.

"As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario".

Media reports said May was under pressure from her cabinet to try to salvage the deal by delaying the vote and flying to Brussels to seek more concessions ahead of a planned summit with 27 fellow European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday.

With the country deeply divided, thousands of protesters joined a pro-Brexit march in central London on Sunday to demonstrate against May's deal.

But analysts said sterling's weakness on Monday reflected deepening uncertainty as well as concerns about May's future as prime minister. "The upcoming European Union summit will be closely watched for any new developments, with the risk of disappointments likely to keep investors cautious on the pound".

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The pound fell half a percent against the dollar to $1.2656 GBP=D3 , its lowest since June 2017.

"This is yet another blow for companies desperate for clarity", said Carolyn Fairbairn, head of big business lobby the Confederation of British Industry.

"For as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk of an accidental no deal increases", she told MPs.

Both May and Tusk also said they would look at stepping up preparations for the potentially catastrophic possibility that Britain leaves the European Union without any new legal arrangements in place.

Earlier Sunday, May, speaking to the Mail newspaper, warned MPs they face "uncharted waters" if they reject her deal.

May has repeatedly said the government will not seek to delay or reverse Brexit.

"They also agreed that preparations for a "no deal" outcome should intensify", it said.

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"Our country deserves better than this".

British media are reporting that Mrs May has advised her Cabinet at an emergency phone hook-up that the vote, scheduled for 7pm Tuesday night - 6am AEDT - has been pulled. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the DUP, the SNP and dozens of Conservative MPs have said they can not support the deal, meaning it was unlikely to pass, the BBC said.

Before that call, a cabinet source said they believed ministers would back the decision to delay the vote, but added: "She needs to have a bloody good plan B".

"We can not continue like this".

The prime minister's comments came as her government was hit by another resignation over the Brexit plan.

Her comments today are aimed at tamping down the hardline Conservative Party revolt led by the likes of her former foreign minister Boris Johnson. "I cannot imagine where we could change something substantial in the withdrawal agreement".

But in a sign of the febrile atmosphere ahead of the vote, Gove became the latest senior Conservative to decline to rule himself out of seeking to succeed May if she is ousted, saying only that it was "extremely unlikely" he would do so.

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