LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Number 10 to greet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Downing Street on December 5, 2017 in London, England. Mrs May and Mr Rajoy are expected to discuss the political situation in Catalonia and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
UK, EU reach breakthrough Brexit agreement
01:53 - Source: CNN
London CNN  — 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May insists she “will not be derailed” from her duty to deliver Brexit, despite her government suffering an embarrassing defeat in the House of Commons last week.

Lawmakers last week backed an amendment to the Brexit bill, meaning the UK Parliament must be given a vote on the final deal with the European Union before withdrawal begins.

But May, writing in two UK newspapers, the Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Express, argued that “last week marked a watershed” for exit negotiations when European leaders agreed to move on to the second stage of departure talks. She also vowed to prove her doubters wrong.

May has had to battle bitter divisions both within her own party as well as pressure from opposition parties and business leaders as she seeks to negotiate Britain’s departure from the EU.

In her opinion pieces Sunday, she also addressed recent criticisms of her minority Conservative government’s approach to the Brexit process.

“Amid all the noise this Government is getting on with the job,” she said.

“This is the exciting part of the negotiations and there is no limit on our ambition and creativity. We want a new economic partnership which will support generations of jobs for our people,” May continued.

“And we want a new security relationship that can help to keep families safe here in Britain and across the continent.”

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested the UK Cabinet remains divided over Britain’s departure from the EU. In an interview with The Sunday Times, a UK newspaper, he cautioned against converting existing EU legislation into UK legislation.

Johnson argued that if the UK ends up being forced to mirror EU laws, “we would have gone from a member state to a vassal state.” Instead he said: “What we need to do is something new and ambitious, which allows zero tariffs and frictionless trade but still gives us that important freedom to decide our own regulatory framework, our own laws and do things in a distinctive way in the future.”

EU chief: UK has to ‘face the consequences’

On Sunday, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, warned May that “the most difficult part remains to be done.”

“The British have to understand it cannot be business as usual. We are ready to start working with the government on the three axes it has indicated: exit from the Union, exit from the single market, exit from the customs union. But the clock is ticking. The deadline of March 29, 2019 is their own doing,” Barnier said in an interview with Prospect, a monthly magazine.

“They have to realise there won’t be any cherry picking,” he added. “We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one. No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”

CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.