- Theresa May: UK will seek another Brexit delay
- PM seeks talks with Jeremy Corbyn to strike compromise plan
- If no compromise, PM pledges to hold votes on Brexit options
- Cabinet lasted seven hours as PM thrashed out way forward
- Backbench MPs table bid to extend Article 50, rule out no-deal
- Analysis: Why UK cannot rely on delay to solve Brexit impasse
- Asa Bennett: Cabinet no-dealers are letting Remainers shape Brexit
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Theresa May has vowed to “break the logjam” on Brexit by potentially holding her own set of indicative votes as she said the UK will seek another Article 50 extension.
The Prime Minister said she now wanted to sit down with Jeremy Corbyn to try to agree a compromise proposal which MPs could then vote on.
However, she said if no “single unified approach” could be agreed with the Labour leader then a series of votes on Brexit alternatives will be held in the hope that one can secure the support of a majority of MPs.
Mrs May said: “The ideal outcome of this process would be to agree an approach on a future relationship that delivers on the result of the referendum that both the leader of the opposition and I could put to the House for approval and which I could then take to next week’s European Council.
“However, if we cannot agree on a single unified approach then we would instead agree a number of options for the future relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.”
Mrs May insisted any new plan would have to be based on agreeing to her Withdrawal Agreement which sets out the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU and contains the Irish border backstop.
She also stressed she wanted the UK to leave the bloc by May 22 so that Britain does not have to take part in European elections but said the Government would “abide” by any decision made by MPs.
Mrs May’s decision to seek a compromise with Mr Corbyn will place Tory Brexiteers on red alert. They fear the Prime Minister will now pivot towards a softer Brexit, potentially built on the UK being in a customs union with the EU.
The Prime Minister’s address to the nation came after a marathon Cabinet meeting which lasted more than seven hours as Mrs May and her senior ministers thrashed out a way forward.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, responded to the Prime Minister’s statement by urging caution.
“Even if, after today, we don’t know what the end result will be, let us be patient,” he said.
Meanwhile, a cross-party group of MPs has brought forward a new bid to force Mrs May to request a further Brexit delay in an attempt to rule out a no-deal divorce.
MPs are also seeking a third round of indicative votes next Monday.
PM’s speech ‘did not go down well’ with Tory Brexiteers
The European Research Group of Brexiteer Conservative MPs was holding a meeting as Theresa May made her statement.
A source in the room said: “We had her speech on the telly at the start of the meeting.
“It did not go down well.”
SNP Westminster leader: Priority remains stopping Brexit
Ian Blackford said: “Scotland has been utterly ignored throughout the Brexit process, and Theresa May’s can-kicking statement tonight merely prolongs the agony instead of providing any clarity on a way forward.
“The SNP has shown we are willing to find a compromise position to end the impasse, but our priority remains stopping Brexit in its tracks.
“Time is fast running out and the Prime Minister must now seek a long extension to Article 50, bring this back to the people through a fresh referendum, and keep the option to revoke Article 50 on the table to avoid a no-deal Brexit.”
Hilary Benn says any Brexit deal must be put to confirmatory referendum
The senior Labour MP said Mrs May needed to put any deal, which he said should include a customs union, to a confirmatory referendum.
He said the Prime Minister should present her divorce deal to the British public and tell them “there aren’t any other leave deals so whatever you were promised in a referendum was never possible – to keep all your sovereignty and all your economic benefits”.
“That was never the choice and the last two and three-quarter years has proved that to have been a fantasy,” he said.
“If on reflection you don’t like that then the UK would remain.
“People could vote leave again or they could vote remain, they can change their mind or not change their mind, but that would be a way of getting a final decision.”
Labour MP: The public will not stand for a Westminster stitch-up
Anna Turley, a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, said that Mrs May was “trying to dip Jeremy Corbyn’s hands into the mess of Brexit”.
But she said that “a deal based on a backroom pact between the Government and the Opposition would simply be a stitch-up that left the people behind”.
Ms Turley said: “Any extension to the Brexit deadline and consideration of other forms of Brexit must be inclusive of all those MPs and voters who say a final deal should be signed off by the people.
“The public will not stand for a Westminster stitch-up. Nor will any deal that was cobbled together in a hurry to meet another artificial deadline command a stable majority in either Parliament or the country for long. It would be a bad deal for Britain if it was made in haste for the wrong reasons.”
Sir Vince Cable tells PM: Only way to break impasse is second referendum
The Liberal Democrat leader said: “The Prime Minister’s statement could be a case of piling more logs onto the logjam.
“Liberal Democrats are clear – Brexit, whether Labour-red or Tory-blue would be hugely damaging for the country.
“Theresa May now finally seems to be accepting that she cannot get support for her deal, though her identifying Jeremy Corbyn as a source of support for Brexit is less surprising.
“The way forward, to break the impasse, is for the Prime Minister to compromise and support a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the European Union.”
IOD business group welcomes ‘step towards compromise’
Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “The Prime Minister’s statement was a welcome step towards compromise, but there are still many obstacles on the path ahead.
“There was a clear indication of how the Government sees the next steps unfolding but time is of the essence and the outcome of all this is still far from clear.
“The brinkmanship has gone on for far too long and business leaders want our politicians to put an end to this miserable uncertainty.
“We urge the Leader of the Opposition to work with the Prime Minister to find a solution. Both sides must play ball.”
Nicola Sturgeon accuses PM of ‘kicking the can’
The First Minister questioned Theresa May’s plan, tweeting after the speech: “This does seem very much like PM kicking the can and, yet again, delaying making any decision that could break her Cabinet.”
“What is missing is an answer from her to the question that many MPs faced up to last night – what is the compromise she is willing to make?”
Theresa May stresses Labour must agree to plan for it to go ahead
The Prime Minister finished her statement by saying: “To make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.
“The Government would then bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. We would want to agree a timetable for this Bill to ensure it is passed before 22nd May so that the United Kingdom need not take part in European Parliamentary Elections.
“This is a difficult time for everyone. Passions are running high on all sides of the argument. But we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for.
“This is a decisive moment in the story of these islands. And it requires national unity to deliver the national interest.”
Theresa May asks Jeremy Corbyn to help come up with Brexit compromise
The Prime Minister said: “This debate, this division cannot drag on much longer. It is putting members of parliament and everyone else under immense pressure and it is doing damage to our politics.
“Despite the best efforts of MPs the process that the House of Commons has tried to lead has not come up with an answer so today I am taking action to break the logjam.
“I am offering to sit down with the leader of the opposition and to try to agree a plan which we would both stick to to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal.
“Any plan would have to agree the current Withdrawal Agreement. It has already been negotiated with the 27 other members and the EU has repeatedly said that it cannot and will not be reopened.
“What we need to focus on is our future relationship with the EU. The ideal outcome of this process would be to agree an approach on a future relationship that delivers on the result of the referendum that both the leader of the opposition and I could put to the House for approval and which I could then take to next week’s European Council.
“However, if we cannot agree on a single unified approach then we would instead agree a number of options for the future relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.
“Crucially, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House.”
Theresa May insists Brexit delay must result in ‘timely and orderly’ divorce from EU
She said: “I know there are some who are so fed up with delay and endless arguments that they would like to leave with no-deal next week.
“I have always been clear that we could make a success of no deal in the long term but leaving with a deal is the best solution.
“So we will need a further extension of Article 50, one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal.
“And we need to be clear what such an extension is for, to ensure we leave in a timely and orderly way.”
Theresa May: UK to seek second Article 50 extension
Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said she would be seeking a further Brexit delay but it must be as short as possible.
She said that “leaving with a deal is the best solution so we will need a further extension of Article 50” as she warned that Brexit uncertainty was “doing damage to our politics”.
She also pledged to hold a fresh round of indicative votes.
“I am taking action to break the logjam,” she said as she revealed she would seek talks with Jeremy Corbyn to figure out what options should be presented to MPs.
However, she said any type of Brexit would have to be built on the Withdrawal Agreement.
Nick Boles attacks ‘cowardly’ Cabinet ministers
The former Tory MP who dramatically quit the party on Monday night, said Theresa May’s top ministerial team was probably the “worst Cabinet collectively” in recorded history.
He told the BBC: “There are some fine people in the Cabinet, genuinely, people who would have been in a Cabinet in any age, but this is the worst Cabinet collectively not only in my lifetime but I think probably in recorded history.
“Were I still a member of the Conservative Party, one of the contributions I would have made to the debate about the leadership election, that will have to come because Theresa May has announced that she is going to stand down, is that it should not be anyone who is or has been in the Cabinet since 2017.”
“None of them in my view has earned the right to lead the country after Brexit – they are all compromised by their collective failure to lead, to unite, to get behind one plan, to sell that plan, to communicate.
“They have all put themselves first, they have all been cowardly when they should have been brave, they have been selfish when they should have been cooperative. None of them should be prime minister after Brexit.”
Backbench bid to delay Brexit labelled ‘irresponsible’ by Tory MP
Daniel Kawczynski tweeted: “Without doubt the actions of (Sir Oliver) Letwin and (Yvette) Cooper are dangerous, unaccountable, undemocratic and irresponsible.
“I sincerely hope their associations finally hold these two individuals to account.”
Labour frontbencher predicts ‘another non-entity Groundhog Day’ speech by PM
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: “Hearing the PM is to do another speech, we all use to get excited in the past when a PM did a speech, but now we know it will be another non-entity Groundhog Day bore with absolutely nothing of substance in it. My deal only way, national interest, best way to deliver Brexit.
“PM statement now delayed, surely it cannot take that long to jot a few lines down on the back of a fag packet?”
Tory MP says he has lost weight because of the stress of Brexit
Huw Merriman told BBC Radio 5 Live he is losing weight because of the stress of Brexit.
The MP for Bexhill and Battle, described to Anna Foster on 5 Live Drive the impact the last few weeks have been having on his health: “I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve gone from over a 34 to almost under a 30 now, and that’s purely down to what’s going on.”
He continued: “Today I’m getting a heck of a lot of abuse because of the way I voted yesterday, even though I tried to explain the way I voted.
“I’m betraying Brexit, I’m the Chancellor’s tea-lady according to Leave.EU who are trying to get me deselected.
“And you try your best for your constituents …. and then you get this vile abuse and someone off the back of the tea-lady shout was talking about (how) those involved in treason used to be taken outside and lined up and shot, now they’re just paid vast salaries … So it does have an impact on us. ”
Mr Merriman also said he is now seeing a counsellor.
“Look, I’ve started seeing a counsellor myself this year because I’ve just realised I need to get proper control in my life – so I mean that’s a good thing, if I can recognise it and try and do something about it, then hopefully other people listening can do so where they think ‘oh no I’m just a pull-yourself-together merchant’ because that’s always how I’ve been,” he said.
“So I’ve decided that I need to make sure that I’m properly looked after and that we look after our mental health.”
Nick Boles hits out at Tory former colleagues
Mr Boles, who quit the Conservative Party last night after his Common Market 2.0 Brexit plan was defeated, told the BBC: “I found myself there, looking around the House of Commons and seeing that the party that was least willing to compromise, least willing to follow through on commitments… was my own party, my own colleagues.
“I guess that was when it snapped. I just thought no, I can’t pretend to be part of you any more.”
Penny Mordaunt leaves Downing Street
The International Development Secretary was the first minister seen leaving the Cabinet meeting, but left via the Cabinet Office rather than the front door of 10 Downing Street.
It is understood she had to attend another meeting and has not quit.
Liberal Democrat MP suggests he could quit party over Brexit
Norman Lamb has hit out at his party’s decision not to back alternative Brexit options.
He told the BBC: “I just worry that it looks like we are almost like the mirror image of the ERG – intransigent in a position, not willing to move at all, not willing to respect the alternative point of view.
“I think that is very dangerous. I also don’t think it is very sensible politically because if you are seen to be unreasonable and not engaging in trying to find solutions then I am not convinced it is a very attractive message to the people.”
Asked if he would consider quitting the whip over the issue, he said he wanted to retain his membership of the Lib Dems “for as long as I am allowed to stay”.
But he added: “Whether I should remain subject to the whip that is something that I am thinking about, I am talking to people.
“I have proudly represented this party for 18 years in parliament and what I was confronted by yesterday felt very different to the sort of party that I like to represent.”
Damian Green urges Government to seek backstop change
Theresa May’s former deputy said it was now “crunch time” and the Government needed to return to the backstop issue to persuade a majority of MPs to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal.
He told Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5Live: “I think now the sensible thing is to look at the one thing that has gone through Parliament, which was the so-called Brady Amendment, which is based on the idea that we should have the Government’s deal – not with the current arrangements for the Irish backstop, the Irish border arrangements – but actually changed arrangements.
“A group of us have been working on alternative arrangements for how you would do customs in Ireland, so you would avoid any prospect of a hard border for obvious reasons. I think that’s now the best way forward.”
Told that the EU would never agree to make changes to the backstop, he said: “What she [Theresa May] came back with on March 11 was a letter saying that, obviously you can’t do these alternative arrangements in the next six weeks or so – but they look quite realistic, and they could be part of the Political Declaration.
“And so it would require some flexibility on the European side as well to say, OK we’ll incorporate some kind of legally-binding agreement; this is the way we would go [and] attach that to the Withdrawal Agreement.
“But the fact is that not only did it get a majority in parliament, but the motion was signed by people of varying views. I was part of it, Iain Duncan Smith was part of it, Nigel Dodds was part of it from the DUP.”
Mr Green insisted Mrs May’s deal was not “completely dead”.
MPs planning third round of indicative votes
Senior backbench MPs are reportedly planning to try to secure more time for a third round of indicative votes next Monday.
The two rounds so far have failed to result in any Brexit option securing a majority of support from MPs.
The plan to take control of the order paper again is expected to be tabled tomorrow.
MPs table bill to bring long Brexit delay
Yvette Cooper and Sir Oliver Letwin have tabled their motion to force the government to ask for a long delay to Brexit. The MPs want to hold both the second and third readings of the Bill tomorrow.
Emmanuel Macron: EU ‘open’ to alternatives to Theresa May’s deal
Emmanuel Macron said the EU is “open” to alternatives to Theresa May’s deal, including Customs Union and a second referendum.
The French president said: “Should this plan be new elections, a referendum, a different selection as to future relationship such as a customs union – it’s not for me to say – but we are open to it.”
Emmanuel Macron: ‘EU will not be hostage to a political crisis in the UK’
Emmanuel Macron said the EU “will not be hostage to a political crisis in the UK”.
Speaking at a press conference with Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Mr Macron said the EU agreeing an extension to Article 50 should “not (be taken) for granted”.
French President Emmanuel Macron says it is up to the UK to present a credible alternative plan for Brexit before the European Council summit on 10 April or Prime Minister Theresa May risks no deal or a longer extension to Article 50
— Sky News Breaking (@SkyNewsBreak) April 2, 2019
Prime ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg call for MPs to decide on course of action ‘within hours and days’
The prime ministers of the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have heaped pressure on Britain to show a way forward out of the Brexit impasse after last night’s votes in the House of Commons did not show a majority for any course of action, James Crisp writes.
“We expect a decision in the next hours and days,” Xavier Bettel, of Luxembourg, said.
“We know what they don’t want, we need to know what they want,” Mr Bettel added. “It is not our mission to tell them what to vote for in the House Of Commons.”
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said the “ball is now in the UK’s court”.
“We need to account for the possibility of a no-deal,” he said.
“We said what our position is at the last summit, an extension is possible to clarify the situation in the case the deal is accepted,” said Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister.
He said the Benelux countries were preparing for a no deal Brexit, which will happen if the UK does not secure EU-27 approval for an extension or if it doesn’t back the withdrawal treaty before April 12.
An emergency EU summit will be held in Brussels on April 10, where Theresa May is expected to ask for an extension to the Brexit talks.
EU-27 ambassadors last week discussed the conditions that would be attached to any extension, which could last up to two years. They include Britan holding European Parliament elections, a plan from Mrs May on how to deliver Brexit, EU budget contributions and a promise to not disrupt EU decision and policy making.
Nicola Sturgeon puts forward proposals to cancel Holyrood’s recess in case of nodeal
Nicola Sturgeon has put forward proposals to cancel Holyrood’s upcoming recess in case MSPs have to respond to a no-deal Brexit.
The UK is set to leave the European Union next Friday unless a deal can be agreed or a further extension is granted by the other 27 nations.
Scotland’s First Minister and her senior ministerial team met after MPs at Westminster again failed to find a way forward in the Brexit process, with her spokesman saying “the priority is not recess, the priority is dealing with Brexit”.
A series of indicative votes were held in the Commons on Monday but there was no majority support for any of the options available.
The First Minister’s spokeswoman said: “We think it is prudent for Parliament to be ready to sit next week.
“We should certainly be prepared, willing and able to sit. That is our proposal from Cabinet.”
Shadow Cabinet frustration that some ministers refused to back second referendum vote
Briefings coming out of shadow cabinet that several members expressed frustration with fact Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett abstained on second ref. One member pointed to “sacrifices some of us have made” in backing it and felt unfair that others had broken whip.
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) April 2, 2019
Jeremy Corbyn tackled at shadow cabinet over why Ian Lavery and Jon Trickett still in their frontbench jobs despite defying whip on second referendum indicative votes- answer came there none, according to shadow cabinet sources
— Rowena Mason (@rowenamason) April 2, 2019
Sir Bill Cash: ‘grave concerns’ about pushing through Cooper bill in a day
Sir Bill Cash said he had “grave concerns” about the idea of Yvette Cooper’s bill “effectively being rammed through in one day”.
The chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee said: “This is a reprehensible procedure in the context of this vitally important issue of our leaving the European Union. It is unconstitutional. It is inconceivable that we should be presented with a bill which could be rammed through in one day.”
Speaker John Bercow responded: “I rather imagine anyone within a 50-mile radius of this place would be aware of your views on this important matter given the force and frequency with which you have raised them.
“The House voted to give precedence tomorrow to a business of the House motion which has not yet been tabled. So we await that.
“Although this is an unusual state of affairs, it is not unknown for a bill to be pushed through the House in one day.
“Bills being brought forward and taken through their various stages in one day in Government time are not particularly unusual at all.”
Ed Miliband: no deal not the answer
Responding to Yvette Cooper’s plan to force Theresa May to delay Brexit, Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said: “No deal is no answer.”
“It would have dire consequences for the country and what’s more we would find ourselves back in negotiations with the EU afterwards.
“Parliament has consistently and overwhelmingly voted against it. If the government does not act to prevent it, we must do so.”
No Deal is No answer. It would have dire consequences for the country and what’s more we would find ourselves back in negotiations with the EU afterwards. Parliament has consistently and overwhelmingly voted against it. If the government does not act to prevent it, we must do so. https://t.co/fy6lafEevu
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) April 2, 2019
Margaret Beckett: ‘maybe some doctor should take [Theresa May] quietly to one side’
Extraordinary. Labour’s Margaret Beckett says Mrs May’s refusal to accept a second referendum show’s she’s ‘terrified’ the public won’t back her deal and ‘maybe some doctor should take her quietly to one side and say, it’s not about you.’
— Jack Doyle (@jackwdoyle) April 2, 2019
Yvette Cooper tables bill to stop no deal
We are now in dangerous situation. Risk of damaging No Deal on 12 April rising fast. Whatever is/isn’t agreed this wk, PM must put forward plan for extension to avert No Deal on April 12. For sake of jobs, families & security, this cross party bill aims to ensure that happens pic.twitter.com/6tQTL45txl
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) April 2, 2019
Long extension likely if MPs vote down Theresa May’s deal a fourth time, ministers told
In a meeting before political cabinet, Number 10 officials told senior ministers that a long extension to Brexit would be the most likely outcome if Theresa May’s deal doesn’t pass the Commons on a fourth attempt.
MPs not planning third round of indicative votes tomorrow
NEW: Told Letwin et al have no plans for Indicative Votes on Weds. Instead trying to pave way for Cooper bill to be laid on Thurs to legislate against No Deal & mandate govt to put forward proposal. But mood grim. MP tells me Letwin is now “90% sure we’ll drop out with No Deal”
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) April 2, 2019
Andrea Leadsom: Theresa May’s deal is the best deal
Andrea Leadsom leaves Cabinet and says: “The Prime Ministers deal is the best deal on the table.”
Lord Kerr of People’s Vote in touch with Michel Barnier
Why is Lord Kerr from the People’s Vote in phone contact with Michel Barnier? “When Kerr says “I must call [Michel] Barnier to talk about the extension” – and he does – he sounds like an old school ambassador, pulling the strings in time-honoured fashion.” https://t.co/WfWsOK4j7z
— Christopher Hope (@christopherhope) April 2, 2019
Jeremy Hunt leaves ‘mammoth’ Cabinet meeting for Foreign Office questions
Jeremy Hunt leaves the extra-long Cabinet meeting to attend Foreign Office questions in the Commons.
He told MPs it is “a delight to interrupt a mammoth Cabinet meeting to enjoy the harmony and consensus of which the House is known.”
Other ministers are still in 10 Downing Street, about half way through their near-five hour session.
Jeremy Hunt pops up at FCO questions, saying it’s ‘a delight to interrupt a mammoth cabinet meeting to enjoy the harmony and consensus of which the House is known’
— Lizzy Buchan (@LizzyBuchan) April 2, 2019
John Bercow may not allow fourth vote on Theresa May’s deal
Whispers this morning that clerks in Commons have made it clear to govt that Bercow would not allow them to bring back the deal for another vote – one source says this is a ‘BIG PROBLEM’ – with capital letters – BUT Speaker’s office says not decided yet – let’s see
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) April 2, 2019
Philip Hammond’s PPS: Parliament has failed
Philip Hammond’s Treasury PPS Huw Merriman told Newsnight: “We can either carry on going until we’re here for the next 10 years or we can face the realistic position and say we can’t deliver, Parliament has failed and therefore we’ll ask the people to push it over the line.”
Theresa May rules out second referendum
A Downing Street spokesman said Theresa May is opposed to a second referendum in all circumstances.
It comes as reports suggested Philip Hammond was planning to suggest putting Mrs May’s deal to a confirmatory referendum in today’s Cabinet meeting.
Number 10 also gave short shrift to DUP’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds demand that Theresa May asks the EU to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to make changes to the backstop.
Mrs May’s spokesman said: “The EU has been very clear on a number of occasions that the Withdrawal Agreement is closed.”
Guy Verhofstadt: hard Brexit becoming ‘inevitable’
Responding to Parliament’s failure to find a majority for any way froward, Guy Verhofstadt said: “The House of Commons again votes against all options.
“A hard Brexit becomes nearly inevitable. On Wednesday, the UK has a last chance to break the deadlock or face the abyss.”
MPs could force Theresa May to request long Article 50 extension
MPs could force the Government to legally rule out no deal tomorrow after failing to find a majority for any Brexit way froward.
On Wednesday MPs will once again be able to seize control of the order paper, allowing them to push through legislation to force Mrs May to delay Brexit and take no deal off the table.
Labour MP Hilary Benn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The first priority is to ensure we apply for and achieve an extension to the time available under Article 50.
“I expect the Prime Minister to be standing up and saying she will apply for an extension. If she does not do so, then there is an option available to the House of Commons tomorrow to seek to legislate to require the Prime Minister to do that. But I would expect her to keep her word, because Parliament’s decision on leaving with no deal is very clear and beyond doubt.
Mrs May has until Friday to request an extension, which the European Council would then consider next Wednesday.
Mr Benn said: “The House of Commons has now voted three times to reject leaving without a deal, and I would expect to Prime Minister to respect that decision and apply for more time. If that does not happen, we will be leaving the EU in 10 days’ time without a deal.”
Michel Barnier: Extending Article 50 to avoid no deal will pose a ‘significant risk’ to the EU
Extending the Brexit negotiations to avoid no deal will pose a ‘significant risk’ to the EU, Michel Barnier said, James Crisp writes.
Mr Barnier warned Britain it would need “strong justification” for any request to lengthen the Article 50 talks with Brussels.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said that businesses had told the European Commission they wanted to avoid prolonged uncertainty caused by never-ending talks. A Brexit Britain in limbo also posed a risk to the EU’s decision-making, he claimed.
Mr Barnier said that no deal was “day after day more likely” ahead of the new Brexit deadline of April 12 and after votes in the House of Commons last night failed to find any majority for a way to take Britain out of the bloc.
Theresa May could ask EU leaders, who must unanimously approve any request, to extend the Article 50 talks at a summit on April 10.
Mr Barnier said: “A long extension would carry significant risks for the EU therefore strong justification would be needed.
“Many businesses warn us of the costs. There would also be political costs,” he said at the European Policy Centre think tank.
Emmanuel Macron has already signalled that an extension would only be granted if there was to be “deep political change” in Britain, such as an election.
But Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister who is meeting Mr Macron in Paris today, has backed granting a long extension. Mrs May is using the threat of a long extension and general election in a bid to convince MPs to finally back the deal she struck with Brussels last year.
“No deal was never out desired or intended scenario but the EU-27 is prepared,” Mr Barnier said, “It becomes, day after day, more likely.”
Twenty Tory MPs could vote against Theresa May in no confidence vote, David Davis says
Up to 20 Tory MPs could put their Brexit views ahead of party allegiance, Dvaid Davis said.
He told the BBC: “I’d only make one warning to the Cabinet… don’t be sure that every Conservative MP would vote for you if it was made a confidence vote.
“One or two of them have said already… and, I think, probably about 20 of them would say, this, actually, is so important, it’s the future of our country.
“It’s our destiny at stake. It’s more important than the Tory Party.”
Cabinet meeting delayed
Looks like the Cabinet meeting may not be the five-hour marathon session originally planned.
The meeting has been delayed by half an hour to 9.30am and the afternoon session is reportedly cancelled.
NEW Cabinet has been delayed and shortened. Ministers now going in for 9.30 and could be no afternoon session. Source: ‘Maybe last night wasn’t what was expected.’
— Jack Doyle (@jackwdoyle) April 2, 2019
David Davis: Tory MPs have been calling for him to make a leadership bid for ‘months’
David Davis says Tory MPs have been begging him ‘for months’ to stand for Tory leadership. But, to the disappointment of fans, he’s still keeping his powder dry – for now…
— Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) April 2, 2019
David Davis: No deal warning a ‘complete Whitehall scare story’
David Davis said no deal warnings circulated to Cabinet ministers are “ridiculous” and a “complete Whitehall scare story.
In documents seen by the Daily Mail, senior civil servant Mark Sedwill warned ministers that no deal could lead to a 10 per cent spike in food prices as well as other economic fallout.
Mr Davis said this is “ridiculous” – a 10 per cent rise in food prices – “where did he get that from?”
He added the “only way” the UK would have food shortages is if it stopped food from coming through at that border, which it said would not happen.
Cabinet ministers were sent a 14-page letter from Mr Sedwill last week also warning of the no deal impact on security services, police forces.
Mr Davis said “we are the biggest intelligence and policing,
“It is a complete Whitehall scare story.”
Hilary Benn: fears Theresa May will ‘not move an inch’
Hilary Benn said the government could “have a way froward” if Theresa May made her deal conditional on a confirmatory referendum.
However the Labour MP added: “But my fear is the Prime Minister is not going to move an inch – and that is why we are at this moment of crisis.
“A confirmatory referendum is a way forward that could resolve this,” Mr Benn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
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