- May and Juncker agree ‘legally-binding’ assurances on Irish backstop
- MPs to vote on May’s ‘improved deal’ tomorrow
- William Hague: Brexit is there on the table. Take it and run, while there’s still a chance
- What can Theresa May do now to deliver Brexit?
- Sign up: Brexit Whatsapp updates and all-new Brexit Bulletin
Theresa May last night pleaded with MPs to “come together” and back a revised version of her Brexit deal after claiming to have solved the problem of the Northern Irish backstop.
Following last-gasp talks in Strasbourg with Jean-Claude Juncker last night, Mrs May said she had secured “legally binding” changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement that will prevent the backstop becoming permanent.
Mr Juncker made clear it was a take it or leave it offer, saying: “In politics sometimes you get a second chance…there will be no third chance. It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all.”
Mrs May must win the backing of Tory Eurosceptics and the DUP if she is to stand any chance of winning an all-important “meaningful vote” on the deal tonight.
But Brexiteers were deeply divided last night over whether the new compromise was enough to tempt them to switch their votes and support the deal.
Mrs May and Mr Juncker agreed a “joint interpretive statement” that gives legal weight to a promise that the backstop would be temporary, which was first made by Mr Juncker in a letter to Mrs May in January.
In addition, the Government issued a “unilateral declaration” giving Britain’s interpretation of the circumstances in which the UK could leave the backstop.
Mrs May is also understood to have discussed the possibility of extending Article 50 with Mr Juncker.
Mrs May’s chances of success in tonight’s vote rest with Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, who will today issue fresh legal advice on whether the UK could be trapped forever in the Northern Irish backstop if it came into force as a result of failed trade talks.
Mr Cox had previously said the backstop could “endure indefinitely”, but if he changes his mind it may persuade significant numbers of Brexiteers to back the deal, which was defeated by a record margin when it was first put to the vote in January.
The ERG and DUP will take their lead from a “star chamber” of legally-trained MPs who will scrutinise the deal and Mr Cox’s opinion and give their own advice on whether it is acceptable.
Last night a senior Eurosceptic said the star chamber is likely to give Mrs May’s proposals a “rough ride” because they rely on proving that the EU is acting in “bad faith” in order to break off from the backstop.
The source said: “How on earth do you prove that? It’s worthless.”
Mrs May said: “MPs were clear that legal changes were needed to the backstop. Today we have secured legal changes.
“Now is the time to come together and back this improved Brexit deal and deliver on the instruction of the British people.”
Penny Mordaunt, the Eurosceptic Cabinet minister who has refused publicly to endorse the deal, responded by saying: “I can now back the deal.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, said it was “too early to tell definitively but it’s clearly a step in the right direction.” He said it was “important to see the details” adding that support from the DUP would be “a very important and significant factor”.
Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s Westminster leader, was keeping his powder dry, saying: “All this will need to be taken together and analysed very carefully.”
But Steve Baker, the deputy leader of the ERG, said: “The Government has put a very good gloss on what falls short of what was expected.”
Brexiteers had hoped Mr Cox would negotiate a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop or an end date to the arrangement, or the removal of the backstop altogether from the Withdrawal Agreement to be replace by “alternative arrangements”.
Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said the new agreement “adds nothing” to what was already on the table.
Mrs May failed to persuade the EU to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement, instead agreeing to a
joint declaration on the backstop that will appear in the political declaration, effectively an annexe to the deal.
Mr Juncker insisted that the agreement meant “there is a legal way for the other party to exit” the backstop if either side failed to use its best endeavours to find a replacement for it.
Announcing the deal to MPs last night David Lidington, the Cabinet Office Minister, said: “The EU has made clear this will be the only deal on the table – tomorrow there will be a clear choice, this deal or to plunge this country into a political crisis.
“If we vote for this deal we will both end the uncertainty and deliver Brexit.”
He insisted the changes will “strengthen and improve” the Withdrawal Agreement because the agreement “provides confirmation that the EU cannot try to trap the UK in the backstop indefinitely and that doing so would be an explicit breach of the legally-binding commitments both sides have agreed”.
He said both sides were committed to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020, and that the arrangements “do not need to replicate the backstop in any respect”.
By including the commitment in the joint instrument “this provision on alternative arrangements will be legally binding”.
After a day of drama in Westminster, predictions of a crushing defeat for Mrs May’s deal gave way to speculation that she could pull off an unlikely victory in tonight’s vote, or at least limit the scale of the defeat to a level that would enable her to fight on.
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, who previously voted against the deal, said he was “keeping an open mind” and “there needs to be some time to look at the legalities of this”.
Mr Cox, who did not travel to Strasbourg, will need to be convinced that the revisions amount to a legally-binding assurance that the backstop is finite in order to change his legal opinion.
The Telegraph understands that Mr Cox has already all but assured Mrs May that he will change his legal advice.
The letter from Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker contained an assurance that the backstop would not “affect or supersede” the Good Friday Agreement on north-south cooperation in Ireland, meaning that if it was given legal force the clause would give Britain justification for leaving the backstop arrangement.
There is no guarantee, however, that new legal advice from Mr Cox would be enough to win over the scores of Eurosceptics who voted against the deal last time.
Mrs May’s flight to Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is currently holding one of its monthly sessions, came at the end of a tumultuous day in Westminster.
Downing Street had started the day admitting that the talks were “deadlocked”, while Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, suggested the negotiations had run their course and that the only negotiations left were those between the Government and Parliament.
Speculation had mounted that Mrs May would have to pull tonight’s meaningful vote to avoid an even greater defeat than the 230-margin reverse she suffered over the Brexit deal in January.
The first signs of movement came when the Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay cancelled a lunchtime appearance before a Parliamentary committee, then pushed back an expected appearance in Parliament to give an update on the negotiations from the afternoon to late night.
Angela Merkel said an “important” offer had been made to the UK, and instead of giving a statement to MPs, Mr Barclay flew with Mrs May to Strasbourg, leaving Westminster at around 5.15pm for RAF Northolt, where an air force jet had been on standby all weekend.
Mrs May finally made her televised statement at 10.40pm.
Ministers reassured Parliament that if Mrs May loses tonight’s vote, she will honour her commitment to allow a vote to block no deal, to be held tomorrow, and a vote on whether to delay Brexit on Thursday.
“We have done everything possible”
European Parliament president Antonio Tajani says the EU have done everything possible to reassure the UK.
Britain ‘must leave EU by May 23 or hold own EU vote’
Britain must leave the European Union by the time EU voters elect a new European Parliament on May 23-26 or will have to elect its own MEPs, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
Writing to EU summit chair Donald Tusk after agreeing a deal to break Brexit deadlock with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Juncker wrote: “The United Kingdom’s withdrawal should be complete before the European elections that will take place between May 23-26 this year.”
“If the United Kingdom has not left the European Union by then, it will be legally required to hold these elections.”
May: I stand by what Brexit deal achieves for Britain
Theresa May said she “passionately believed” in her Brexit deal and had now addressed the concerns raised by Parliament in January over the Northern Irish backstop.
Mrs May said she had ensured there would be “no indefinite backstop” and any attempt to keep the UK in the backstop by the EU would be dealt with by an “arbitration mechanism”.
The UK and EU had made a joint statement in relation to the Political Declaration to explore “new and emerging” technologies to avoid a backstop and the UK had also made a unilateral declaration over the breakdown of negotiations.
Juncker says ‘legally-binding instrument’ agreed
Jean-Claude Juncker, at joint press conference with Theresa May, says a “legally-binding” instrument to clarify the backstop has been agreed
He said the Irish Premier, Leo Varadkar, had approved the changes.
Referring to the Irish backstop, Mr Juncker said: “If either side were to act in bad faith, there is a legal way for the other party to exit.
“The instrument which sets out these details has legal force while fully respecting the guidelines of the European Council.”
He said the changes “complement the Withdrawal Agreement” but do not reopen it for renegotiation.
Here are the full terms of the agreement:
Our agreement provides meaningful clarifications & legal guarantees to the Withdrawal Agreement & #backstop. The choice is clear: it is this deal, or #Brexit may not happen at all. Let’s bring the UK’s withdrawal to an orderly end. We owe it to history. https://t.co/lfy9eehEZi pic.twitter.com/XCqcLwZV7V
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) March 11, 2019
May and Juncker press conference ‘imminent’
EU officials tell Reuters that May and Juncker will hold their press conference shortly.
EU officials had said earlier that a joint presser would only be held if there was solid progress to announce in the stalled talks.
David Liddington addressing the House
Liddington says PM has secured “legally binding” assurances on the backstop.
The Cabinet Office Minister told the House of Commons that the two sides agreed on a “joint instrument” clarifying the withdrawal deal.
The measure is intended to reassure Britain it won’t be trapped forever in a mechanism designed to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
William Hague: Brexit is there on the table. Take it and run, while there’s still a chance
This is timely – and just published – by William Hague:
As human beings, we have a natural tendency to blame others for landing us in a mess. And now, with British politics on the verge of the most complex, intractable, emotional and all-consuming muddle since the Civil War, preparations to blame everybody else are in full swing.
If Brexit doesn’t happen on March 29, disappointing or enraging the 17 million people who voted for it, blame will be flung everywhere. Leavers will blame Remainers for undermining negotiations and Remainers will blame Leavers for not taking the deal in front of them. Many will blame the Irish for taking a hard line, and the EU in general for being so intransigent. Tories will blame each other for not uniting, and virtually everyone will blame Theresa May for not finding the genius solution.
Unfortunately, there will be some truth in all of this, giving scope for all sides to whip up resentment and stoke division. For anyone who wants to hate the Establishment, or despise the majority, or split a party, or just rubbish their opponents, it will be a field day like no other.
There will be more reasons than ever not to listen to each other. Instead we will all revel in the reinforcement of our existing opinions and know that we were totally right but disgracefully let down.
In any forthcoming general election or second referendum – and the chances of one or both happening are higher than many people think – our great democracy will have entered the age of the angry crowd, the abusive tweet and the violent incident.
This will be a tragedy in a country hitherto known throughout the world for its free speech, tolerance of different opinions and its disdain for extremism.
Meanwhile in Westminster…
16 or 17 ministers were pulled together tonight for a meeting in Cobra room in Cabinet Office – more progress been made than expected sources suggest – now down to ‘how constructive ERG and DUP are willing to be’ says a source
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 11, 2019
MPs not sure whether to stay or go
So there could be a Brexit statement tonight, starting 10.30pm at the latest (when the House is otherwise due to rise) but we don’t know if there will be, or whether it will be worth waiting for. We’ve no votes tonight, so MPs really don’t know if they should stay or go…
— Kerry McCarthy (@KerryMP) March 11, 2019
Revealed: Nigel Farage met Donald Trump and asked him to back no-deal Brexit
Ben Riley-Smith reports:
Donald Trump and Nigel Farage discussed the merits of a no deal Brexit during a face-to-face meeting earlier this month, The Telegraph can reveal.
The US president was urged to support walking away from the table if a bad agreement is on offer – just like he had done during North Korea talks in Vietnam.
The conversation took place at the Conservative Political Action Conference [Cpac] in Washington DC, a gathering of right-leaning politicians where both men gave speeches.
Mr Trump has been critical of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, warning it will limit the scope of a US-UK free trade deal, but has not gone as far as to publicly call on Britain to leave the European Union without an agreement.
If the US president were to announce support for a no deal Brexit it would be politically damaging for Mrs May, who is struggling to convince Brexiteers in her own party to vote for her proposals.
The conversation is another sign of the access some hard Brexiteers have to the US president. Key members of Mr Trump’s administration are believed by UK officials to be fiercely Eurosceptic.
Sketch: Will Mrs May get a better Brexit deal? No one knows… including her stand-in
Michael Deacon writes:
With time running out, and panic growing, Jeremy Corbyn demanded that Theresa May come to the Commons and give an urgent update on Brexit. The Prime Minister, however, didn’t turn up. And she didn’t even send the Brexit Secretary in her place.
Labour MPs fumed. “It’s customary on these occasions for the House to complain that the Government has sent the monkey, and not the organ grinder,” grumbled Kevin Brennan (Lab, Cardiff West). “But on this occasion, we haven’t even got the monkey!”
What they’d got instead was something more closely resembling a guinea pig. A gentle, harmless-looking creature, with sandy hair and an air of anxious amenability, Robin Walker is a junior minister in the Brexit department, and it was he who’d been shoved into the chamber to serve as Mrs May’s stand-in. MPs peppered him with questions. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to know many of the answers.
For example, he didn’t seem to know whether Theresa May would be flying out for last-minute talks with the EU. And he didn’t seem to know whether any deal she did strike could be approved by EU heads of government in time for tomorrow’s crucial vote in the Commons. In fact, he seemed certain of only one thing, which he repeated, in his unassuming manner, numerous times. It was that, whatever deal Theresa May ended up putting to MPs, they should definitely vote for it.
It’s not over yet – but as we await news from Strasbourg, here’s Camilla Tominey’s take on Theresa May’s frantic day so far
The Prime Minister’s aircraft had been refueled and was ready and waiting on the runway at RAF Northolt.
It followed overnight speculation that some changes to the Withdrawal Agreement might prompt Theresa May to make a last ditch trip to Brussels.
Instead Downing Street started the day by dashing all hopes of a breakthrough, once again describing the talks as “deadlocked”.
Talks of a delay inevitably followed with Mrs May under pressure to replace the meaningful vote with a “conditional” motion, which would put an option of a specific change to her deal to MPs, with the aim of then presenting it to Brussels as a clear mandate.
Few could disagree with Brexiteer MP Mark Francois’s prediction of there being a 50/50 chance of the vote being pulled within the tense hours that followed.
As Downing Street held a fraught 8.30am meeting mapping out the crucial day ahead, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was carrying out his own analysis of the weekend’s events at a meeting of EU27 ambassadors.
Reading out a section of a Sunday newspaper interview with Geoffrey Cox, in which the UK’s Attorney General had said the UK could trigger an arbitration mechanism on day one of the Irish backstop coming into force, Mr Barnier accused Britain of acting in “bad faith”.
One source described the atmosphere in the Brussels meeting as “bleak” revealing that negotiators had thought they were close to a deal on Sunday, only for Mrs May to say no.
Reports May also discussing Article 50 extension in Strasbourg
Am in #Strasbourg where I gather #theresamay will meet not only Juncker, but EP #Brexit Task Force. She wants the EU’s offer of reassurance declaration to be declared legally binding. She wants to discuss privately an extension of Art50 deadline to 24 May.
— Richard Corbett (@RCorbettMEP) March 11, 2019
Sterling jumps as May scrambles to make Brexit deal
The pound jumped after May rushed to Strasbourg in a last-ditch attempt to avoid another defeat in parliament of her Brexit deal, Reuters reports.
Just 18 days before Britain is due to leave the European Union, there is still no ratified deal and talks with the EU stalled over the weekend as May felt she was unable to break the political deadlock in London.
In a day of frenetic diplomacy ahead of the parliamentary vote scheduled on Tuesday, May spoke to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in an effort to find a way through the Brexit maze.
After falling in the last eight sessions, the pound rose by as much as 1.1 percent and hit the day’s high of $1.317 as chances Britain will leave the group without a deal – an option known as a “hard Brexit” – had narrowed.
Irish cabinet to hold unscheduled meeting on Brexit
Ireland’s cabinet is due to hold an unscheduled meeting this evening to discuss Brexit, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan said on Twitter.
The cabinet already had its regular weekly meeting earlier on Monday and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was due to be in the air on his way to Washington but has delayed his departure, a journalist from the Irish Independent newspaper said on Twitter.
May ‘hoping to agree a time limit on finding alternative arrangements to backstop’
1. Two sources suggest May hoping to agree a time limit on finding alternative arrangements to the backstop – so it remains, but 2 sides commit to finding a different way of doing it within a time limit
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 11, 2019
No-Deal planning continues
Meanwhile, Govt just published “Category 1 products” list “critical to preservation of human or animal welfare and/ or national security for UK” for which importers can apply for tickets on No Deal Brexit emergency ferries – medicines, medical devices, blood, organs, vaccines… pic.twitter.com/XCnL2K8V8y
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) March 11, 2019
Brexiteers summoned to Chief Whip’s office
Tory Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson and Steve Baker have been called in to see the Chief Whip, who has given them the latest update on the negotiations.
They have not said what Julian Smith told them but Mr Duncan Smith said he was expecting the Prime Minister to make a statement in Strasbourg at 9pm and that it was “reaching a point” where there could be an agreement and that he would “keep an open mind” about whether Eurosceptics could support it.
ERG stress that their “star chamber” of legally-trained MPs will have the final say over whether they back any deal.
Brussels resigned to Brexit extension after London rejects backstop offer
Brussels is resigned to Britain requesting an extension to the Brexit talks beyond the March 29 deadline, after UK-EU negotiations over the Irish border backstop broke down yet again over the weekend, James Crisp reports.
A tentative agreement was made between UK and EU officials on Sunday, EU sources claimed, but that deal was scuttled after discussions with the cabinet in London, despite tomorrow’s looming second meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Exasperated European Union diplomats predicted that only a March summit of EU leaders could finally “bring clarity” to the Brexit impasse over the Irish border backstop.
The prime minister has been seeking legal assurances from Brussels that the backstop, which would put Britain into a bare bones customs union with the EU if future trade talks fail to avoid a hard Irish border, will be temporary.
“There was basic understanding between the negotiators,” an EU diplomat said, “but the agreement didn’t fly in London.”
A deal is in the air…
Eurosceptic MPs have gone in to be sold on the new deal
Senior ERG members believe Attorney General and No 10 have some kind of deal to put to Parliament tomorrow – IDS, Steve Baker and Owen Paterson have just gone into see the Chief Whip
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 11, 2019
Barnier ‘indignant’ about Cox’s backstop exit boast
Michel Barnier was reportedly “indignant” this afternoon with Geoffrey Cox’s claim that the UK could trigger the arbitration mechanism to pave the way for its departure from the backstop from the first day it comes into effect.
Michel Barnier was indignant about Geoffrey Cox’s claim in @DailyMailUK iv that UK could trigger backstop arbitration mechanism on day one. He read out this part of the interview to ambassadors. Seen as lack of good faith on UK side. pic.twitter.com/pdKCXTd7Dy
— Jennifer Rankin (@JenniferMerode) March 11, 2019
Merkel praises Barnier’s ‘important offer’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that that the European Commission has made an “important offer” to Britain
Merkel said in Berlin that it was “very welcome” that Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier made “a multitude of suggestions” over the weekend on how to define the so-called “backstop” meant to keep open the border between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland.
She added: “I think that an important offer has again been made to Britain, and now it is of course for Britain to respond to these offers.”
Did Cox stop an early deal?
Our man in Brussels James Crisp reports
A tentative agreement was made between UK and EU officials on Sunday, EU sources claimed, but that deal over the Irish backstop was scuttled after discussions with the cabinet in London, despite tomorrow’s looming second meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
he prime minister has been seeking legal assurances from Brussels that the backstop, which would put Britain into a bare bones customs union with the EU if future trade talks fail to avoid a hard Irish border, will be temporary.
“There was basic understanding between the negotiators,” an EU diplomat said, “but the agreement didn’t fly in London.”
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said the EU made a “very important offer” to Britain on Brexit and now it’s up to the UK to respond.
No-deal and delay votes still pencilled in
Brexit minister Robin Walker has reiterated what the Prime Minister promised at the despatch box
Robin Walker confirms all three votes will go ahead: meaningful vote tomorrow, no deal vote on Weds and delay Brexit vote on Thurs (though obvs each is conditional on the result of its predecessor)
— Gordon Rayner (@gordonrayner) March 11, 2019
Minister confirms vote tomorrow
Brexit minister Robin Walker has confirmed that the vote will be held tomorrow, with the exact text of the motion laid before the Commons tonight. Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, will give fresh legal advice, which leaves little time for legal experts to digest it.
David Cameron: I don’t think no deal is a good idea at all
The former Prime Minister has made another rare, but helpful, intervention for Theresa May
Irish deputy PM reveals May is off to Strasbourg
Simon Coveney has announced that Theresa May is off to Strasbourg tonight “to try to finalise an agreement, if that’s possible”. The Irish deputy prime minister seems to know more about the Prime Minister’s schedule than her own spokesperson is willing to divulge.
The visit, our deputy political editor Steve Swinford suggests, could mark the emergence of something on “alternative arrangements” to the backstop.
May faces urgent questions over her deal
As expected, John Bercow is ensuring that Theresa May is hauled before the House of Commons as soon as possible, granting Labour an urgent question about what has been going on with the deal this afternoon.
Brexiteer economist urges MPs to stop behaving like headless chickens
A No Deal exit from the EU is Britain’s best bet economically and politically, Professor Patrick Minford has warned.
The Brexiteer economist has produced a detailed report arguing that the UK economy will flourish under a “clean break” with the EU at the end of March., calculating that it could boost national output by 7 per cent over 15 years – worth £140 billion.
The report declares: “In its attempt to force through its EU Withdrawal Agreement, the Government is painting a No Deal Brexit as some sort of disaster. It is, in fact, a recipe for economic success – free of the shackles of EU protectionism, budget costs, intrusive regulation and subsidisation of unskilled immigration.”
The report says that the gains of a clean Brexit (which means quitting the customs union and single market, regaining national control over borders and regulations, escaping the European Court of Justice, and trading on WTO terms) arise from four key factors:
Number 10 confirms deal vote 2 will happen tomorrow
But could it still try to find an escape route with the wording of the motion? That remains to be seen. That could see MPs approve the deal subject to specific criteria being met.
BREAKING: Downing Street says Meaningful Vote on the Brexit deal WILL go ahead tomorrow evening, but we’ll have to wait until tonight to see the motion MPs will actually be voting on. Sounds like the devil will be in the detail.
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) March 11, 2019
Yvette Cooper warns May MPs will force a delay vote
Theresa May has been warned by Yvette Cooper that if she tries to pull the votes on ideas this week such as delaying Brexit, she and other MPs will demand she goes ahead with it.
Yvette Cooper has said she and Conservative MPs would attempt to force votes on an extension of Article 50 on Thursday should the prime minister pull the votes, saying it would be a “straight up lie” to parliament if May changed her plans
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) March 11, 2019
Here’s why the PM can’t pull this week’s votes easily
Nick Boles has pointedly reminded Downing Street that Theresa May did promise the House of Commons this week’s votes, so would “forfeit the confidence” of the Commons if she pulls it.
Anna Soubry calls for Brexitsceptic ministers to quit
Anna Soubry, the former Tory MP who now sits as part of the Independent Group, has told Sky News that ministers worried about a no-deal exit need to have the “courage of their convictions” and “if they need to leave their ministerial office, they must do it” for that cause.
Brexit Secretary drops by Number 10
Steve Barclay has been seen popping into Downing Street
Brexit Sec has gone into Number 10 (afraid it is going to be that kind of day where we have to try to work out what’s going on by spotting which politicians are going in and out of which buildings around SW1)
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) March 11, 2019
Daniel Hannan says May’s deal is “worst of all” Brexits
Theresa May’s deal is the “worst” form of possible Brexits, a leading Conservative Eurosceptic has said.
Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, also a Telegraphy columnist, told Sky News that there “are better and worse forms of Brexit… we’ve gone for about the worst one of all”. The deal, he said, was proof that the EU was being “vindictive and aggressive”.
“If Parliament rejects its deal, then there needs to be a radically different approach,” he said. “Either we leave with no deal, or we try something completely different.”
George Freeman: ‘We are in a very, very serious crisis’
George Freeman, the Conservative MP, said “we are in a very, very serious crisis” and called for Theresa May to quit after Brexit.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Freeman said: “I hope the Prime Minister can get withdrawal through and then I do think we need to choose a new leader for a new generation with a new vision of a conservatism that can make sense of Brexit and re-inspire and reunite the nation.
“I hope we can do that having secured a sensible Withdrawal Agreement. A panicked change of leader now will solve nothing, we have got to get this through.
“I hope colleagues this week will recognise that: vote for the deal and then we can change.”
Mr Freeman said if Mrs May’s Brexit deal is defeated, the UK should opt for a Norway-style arrangement instead.
By joining EFTA / EEA we would achieve the vast majority of what people want – without dividing the United Kingdom. We’re in the EEA. All we would need is EFTA nations to say yes. (As they’ve signalled they will). And EU to approve. (Which they said as late as Sept they wld)
— George Freeman MP (@GeorgeFreemanMP) March 11, 2019
Theresa May meeting senior aides to decide whether to pull meaningful vote
Theresa May is this morning meeting senior aides to decide whether to pull tomorrow’s meaningful vote and replace it with a “conditional” motion. This would allow them to vote on proposed changes to her withdrawal agreement before they are agreed with Brussels.
The big question will then be whether backbenchers including Oliver Letwin and Yvette Cooper will allow another delay, or if they will table an amendment calling for an extension to Article 50.
Brexit latest: PM meeting with senior aides in No10 now to plot a way through this week’s carnage. I’m told it’s most likely she will decide to change tomorrow’s vote from a meaningful one to a provisional one – ie her deal, plus Cox’s changes (1)
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) March 11, 2019
Sir Keir Starmer: Labour unlikely to call for second referendum this week
Sir Keir Starmer has suggested Labour will not call for a second referendum this week, as there would be “plenty of opportunities” to do so in the coming weeks.
Labour plans to whip its MPs to back an amendment by Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, which would put Theresa May’s deal to the country in a referendum. It has been designed as a way to break through Parliamentary deadlock.
The shadow Brexit secretary said the Commons is “fundamentally uncompromising right now” and suggested the amendment could be tabled at a later date.
His comments came as Jeremy Corbyn faced a rebellion in his shadow cabinet after ten frontbenchers warned they could quit if Labour backs plans for a second referendum.
The group of shadow ministers, who largely represent Leave-supporting seats, have expressed concerns over the party’s recent shift in policy, a senior source told the Telegraph. They have asked for a “free vote” if the party whips for a second referendum.
Downing Street says negotiations ‘deadlocked’
Bad news for Theresa May this morning as her team dispelled any remaining hope of a last minute breakthrough ahead of this week’s meaningful vote.
Number 10 said the talks in Brussels are “deadlocked”. There had still been speculation that some changes to the Withdrawal Agreement could be agreed today, prompting Mrs May to travel to Brussels.
However, it now appears she will face the crucial week in the Commons without a rabbit to pull out of her hat for MPs.
Parliament has been preparing to hold a second meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal tomorrow. If she loses, it would then vote to take no deal off the table, followed by a vote on whether to delay Brexit.
However, Mrs May is now under pressure to delay the meaningful vote and replace it with a “conditional” motion, which would put an option of a specific change to her deal to MPs, with the aim of then presenting it to Brussels as a clear mandate.
Mark Francois, the Brexiteer MP. told Sky News there is a 50/50 chance that tomorrow’s meaningful vote could be pulled.
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