There is so much news about today I have split my reports into two.  See here for Brexit news.  See here for your Daily Brexit Betrayal by Viv Evans.

Delay

Reuters
Britain wants an orderly exit from the European Union but the legal default is still to leave on March 29 unless an alternative solution is put in place, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de-facto deputy said on Friday. “I hope still we can leave as soon as possible in an orderly fashion but that depends upon parliamentary approval both in principle of a withdrawal agreement but also then the implementing legislation that has to follow before lawfully we can ratify that treaty,” David Lidington told BBC radio. “By the end of March we have to have an alternative in place, not just a resolution of the House of Commons, a preference, but a solution in place that enables us to have an extension so there isn’t crash out on March 29.”

Express
THERESA MAY secured a Brexit victory on Thursday after MPs backed her plan to delay the UK’s departure from the EU but just hours later Brussels appeared to pour cold water on the Prime Minister’s win as the bloc warned any extension would have to be approved by all of the EU27 nations. The Prime Minister dodged a string of Remainer attempts to seize control of Brexit, including a bid to force a second referendum. In dramatic scenes, Mrs May’s motion to extend Article 50 was passed by 412 votes to 202, a majority of 210.

ITV News
MPs have voted to delay Brexit beyond the scheduled date of March 29 amid dramatic scenes in the House of Commons. Parliamentarians backed putting off the UK’s departure date from the European Union by 412 to 202 on Thursday. An extension is not guaranteed automatically, as any such move needs the unanimous approval of all 27 EU states. If an extension is granted, the UK will not be leaving the EU on March 29. Only a refusal by the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states to grant an extension, at a Brussels summit next week, could now preserve March 29 as Brexit day.

Telegraph
The UK may no longer leave the EU on March 29 after MPs backed Theresa May’s plan to delay Brexit by 412 votes to 202 on Thursday – a majority of 210.  The Prime Minister will now seek an Article 50 extension to June 30 if MPs back her deal by March 20 in order to allow Parliament time to pass the necessary legislation to prepare for leaving the EU. However, if MPs have not agreed Mrs May’s deal by March 20, it will be “highly likely” that the European Council, due to meet on March 21, will require a “clear purpose” before agreeing a longer extension.

Breitbart
A majority of Britons are against Members of Parliament voting for an extension of Article 50 in the House of Commons, according to a YouGov poll. The snap poll conducted Thursday, the day after the Commons voted against leaving the EU without a deal, found that 43 per cent of Britons want MPs to vote against a delay, versus 38 per cent who back a Brexit delay. “This is a notable turnaround in opinion since the end of last week, when half (49%) of Britons backed a deadline extension and only a third (34%) were against it,” YouGov researchers noted.

Sun
BRITAIN is set to stay in the EU for at least three more months after MPs tonight voted to delay Brexit. The House of Commons endorsed Theresa May’s plan to ask Brussels for an extension to the Article 50 process. The move means Britain WON’T quit the EU on March 29 – as the PM has promised for the past two years. Tonight’s vote to delay our departure – by 413 votes to 202 – comes after MPs blocked a No Deal Brexit yesterday. But in a blow to Remainers who want us to stay in the EU permanently, an amendment calling for a second referendum fell to a landslide defeat.

Independent
MPs have voted in favour of delaying Brexit until at least June in a move that will now see Theresa May ask Brussels to postpone Britain’s departure from the EU. The Commons divided 412 to 202 – a majority of 210 – in favour of a government motion that said the Article 50 period should be extended after MPs rejected Ms May’s plan and also voted to rule out no deal. Ms May will now ask the EU to extend the planned 29 March exit date, and existing UK laws will also be updated to reflect this. Any extension will need to be approved by all 27 EU member states.

Mirror
Brexit will no longer happen on March 29th after MPs voted to delay it. After a series of votes in the House of Commons, MPs backed an extension to the Article 50 process, which is expected to last at least another three months.  The motion was carried by 413 votes to 202 – a majority of 211. It means Theresa May will try to convince MPs to back her deal for a third time next week. If she’s able to, the UK will seek a one-off extension until June 30 to allow time for laws to be passed. If her deal fails to win Commons support, the motion doesn’t set a time on the extension.

DUP

Sun
DUP chief Arlene Foster signalled the Ulster Unionists were edging closer to backing the PM’s deal. Speaking in Washington DC, she said the party was “working very hard” with the Government and: “We want to make sure we get there.” It came amid growing talk of a split between the ten MPs in DUP ranks as local businesses in Northern Ireland demand they back an agreement. One source said: “The donors have turned off the taps. They want a deal.”

Express
THE DUP warned that “tweaks won’t cut it” in talks over Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal with the European Union. The Northern Irish party today held talks with the Government as the Prime Minister battles to win their support for her divorce agreement. The DUP – whose 10 votes give Mrs May her majority – has voted down her deal twice due to the controversial backstop, which is aimed at preventing a hard Irish border.

WA

Independent
Theresa May could be breaking Commons rules if she keeps bringing her Brexit deal back to the Commons after multiple defeats, a cabinet minister has admitted. MPs should not be asked “the same question” in the same session, Andrea Leadsom acknowledged – potentially allowing the Speaker to rule a third “meaningful vote” out of order. The bombshell admission came after John Bercow selected an amendment to today’s Brexit motion, allowing MPs to vote on the controversy later today.

BBC News
Prime Minister Theresa May will try to persuade MPs for a third time to back her Brexit deal over the coming days. The Commons will vote on her withdrawal agreement by 20 March, after MPs agreed to ask the EU to delay Brexit beyond the current 29 March departure date. Tory MPs and the DUP are seeking further legal assurances over the deal. Cabinet Minister David Lidington said there was “real impatience” in Europe and unless MPs agreed a deal, the EU could seek a delay of more than a year.

Legal advice

Times
Theresa May faced a further set back to convincing Eurosceptics and the Democratic Unionist Party to support her deal after a panel of pro-Brexit lawyers rejected another attempt to quell fears about the backstop. The lawyers rejected additional legal advice from Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, which said that the UK could use the Vienna Convention — the international treaty that outlines rules on treaties — to pull out of the backstop unilaterally.

Telegraph
Jeoffrey Cox is attempting to win over Eurosceptic Tory MPs and the DUP with new legal advice stating that Britain will be able to break off from the Irish backstop under the terms of the Vienna Convention, The Telegraph can disclose. In the advice the Attorney General states that Britain will be able to end the backstop if it having a “socially destabilising effect on Northern Ireland”, which would be considered a “fundamental change” of circumstances under the terms of the treaty.

Reuters
Brexit-supporting MPs have rejected an additional legal opinion by Britain’s top government lawyer on Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal assurances, The Telegraph reported. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox had attempted to win over Brexit-supporting members of parliament with additional legal advice, the newspaper reported.  His original opinion published on Tuesday that the legal risk remained that Britain might be unable to get out of the backstop helped convince Brexit-supporting MPs to oppose the deal.

Bercow

Telegraph
John Bercow has been accused of Brexit bias after he blocked a bid to rule out a second referendum and told MPs they must “take the rough with the smooth”. The Commons Speaker selected four amendments which will be eligible to be put to a vote on Thursday but declined to select a cross-party push which said another public vote should not be held. One of the amendments which was selected calls on the Government to seek an extension to Article 50 for the specific purpose of making time to hold a second referendum.

Sun
A FURIOUS row erupted last night after John Bercow refused to allow a vote on ruling out a second EU referendum for good. The Commons Speaker ignited fury by refusing to select the amendment tabled by Brexiteers – even though it was backed by a 127 MPs. Mr Bercow left Brexiteers seething as he picked a rival amendment calling for a second referendum even though it has less support. Furious MPs rounded on the Speaker – who has admitted he voted Remain –accusing him of flouting centuries-old tradition that he remains strictly impartial.

Westmonster
The ridiculous situation in Parliament continues, with Speaker John Bercow refusing to select an amendment calling for a second referendum to be ruled out.  That’s despite well over 100 MPs backing the amendment, from both the Conservatives and Labour as well as the DUP. Truly cross-party. It had read: “Believes that the result of the 2016 EU referendum should be respected and that a second EU referendum would be divisive and expensive and therefore should not take place.”

May

Mail
Theresa May will have to set out a timetable for her resignation in order to get her Brexit deal through, Tory MPs warned last night. The PM is set to ask the Commons to vote on her much-maligned withdrawal agreement for a third time next week, insisting it is the only way to avoid a long delay to Brexit.   MPs last night voted to ask for an extension to Article 50, which the PM says could be a short delay until June if Parliament passes her deal – or a much longer one if they reject it a third time.

Conservative Woman
THERESA May’s moral and mental fitness to hold high office must now, more than Brexit, be the most pressing question for debate. How such an individual, whom it is hard to see getting beyond middle management level in any corporation, rose to be Prime Minister in the first place is another matter. Her obdurate refusal to resign and take the only honourable course in the face of defeat will be analysed by psychologists as well as historians for years to come.

Labour Party

Express
LABOUR has been accused of “spinelessly” supporting Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans after abstaining from a Commons vote to back a so-called People’s Vote. SNP’s Westminister leader, Ian Blackford, accused the party of being “a fraud” after choosing not to back a second referendum. He told The Daily Telegraph: “An opportunity to drive forward the need for such a vote and Labour has flunked it. They are midwives to Theresa May’s Brexit. Absolutely spineless.”

EU

Telegraph
Brussels has reacted furiously after Theresa May announced plans to hold a third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal just one day before an EU summit to approve an extension to the Article 50 negotiations. While EU-27 leaders are divided over the length and conditions for the extension beyond the March 29 deadline, they are united in their irritation that the prime minister will give the bloc very little time to consider their response and prepare a joint position. Last night Mrs May said that MPs would hold a third vote on her deal on March 20.

BBC News
European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will appeal to EU leaders “to be open to a long extension” of the Brexit deadline, if the UK needs to rethink its strategy and get consensus. His intervention came as UK MPs voted to seek a delay of the 29 March deadline to leave the EU. EU leaders meet in Brussels on 21 March and they would have the final say. Prime Minister Theresa May has said that if her Brexit deal is not approved a longer extension may be necessary.

Mail
Donald Tusk today revealed he will urge EU leaders to agree a ‘long extension’ to Article 50 – delaying Brexit by up to two years to give the UK time to ‘rethink’ – if  Theresa May‘s deal is voted down a third time next week.  The President of the European Council’s intervention on Twitter this morning will bolster claims that the UK would not leave the EU until 2021 unless Mrs May can persuade the DUP and Brexiteers to back her divorce deal – because some in the EU want to play ‘hardball’ and push for a delay of two years.

Reuters
The European Union executive said Britain will have to justify any request to postpone Brexit beyond the end of this month and that EU leaders would put a priority on avoiding disrupting EU institutions in considering it. Noting Thursday’s votes in the British parliament to seek a delay in leaving the bloc, a spokesman for the European Commission said: “A request for an extension of Article 50 requires the unanimous agreement of all 27 member states.”

Yahoo News
European Council president Donald Tusk has signalled that the EU is ready to offer a lengthy delay to Brexit. As MPs get ready to vote on an extension to Article 50, Mr Tusk gave hope to Remainers, who want to put off Brexit as long as possible so that they can win enough support for a second referendum. Mr Tusk tweeted this morning: “During my consultations ahead of #EUCO, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its #Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.”

Guardian
Donald Tusk is pushing the European Union’s leaders to consider a long Brexit delay to allow the UK to rethink its goals in the negotiations as the Commons voted in favour of seeking an extension of article 50. In an apparent shift in the EU’s red lines, the European council president suggested even before MPs had voted that a lengthy extension beyond 29 March could be granted simply to give Westminster time to recalibrate. Officials have until now insisted that only calling a general election or second referendum could justify delaying Brexit beyond more than a few months.

Times
The European Union is poised to tell Theresa May that she must hold a second referendum or soften Brexit in return for them granting a lengthy delay to Britain’s departure date. The Times understands that the prime minister has been told by senior EU officials and other European leaders that conditions for an extension to the Article 50 exit process would include the option of a second vote on EU membership. Mrs May is expected to ask a summit of EU leaders next week for a delay to Brexit.

Independent
The president of the European Council has said he is open to a “long” delay to Brexit if the UK needs time to rethink its strategy to leaving the bloc. Hours ahead of a parliamentary vote on whether the UK should seek an Article 50 extension Donald Tusk said he would encourage EU member states to back a delay if the UK needed time to “build consensus” around a new approach.

Mail
EU leaders have renewed their warnings that Brussels will not agree a Brexit delay unless the UK can suggest a way out of the current deadlock.  The House of Commons voted last night to seek an extension to Article 50, which Theresa May says could be a short delay until June if Parliament approves her deal – or a much longer one if it is rejected again.   Brussels has said it will listen to a request for more time if Britain provides a good reason, but Guy Verhofstadt said last night it was up to the UK to take a ‘cross-party’ approach to find a breakthrough.  All 27 remaining EU states will have to agree a delay and leaders including Emmanuel Macron have said an extension would have to offer something new.

Express
IRELAND is pushing for Britain to delay Brexit by up to 21 months until the end of 2020 so it can have a “fundamental rethink” about its decision to exit the European Union. Theresa May has granted MPs the chance to vote on an extension to Article 50 in the House of Commons this evening following two crushing defeats in as many days. On Tuesday, her Brexit deal was again rejected in the meaningful vote by a majority of 149, despite her securing crucial “legally binding” changes to the Irish backstop. Just hours before Attorney General Geoffrey Cox admitted the legal risk on the Irish backstop remained unchanged.

Second referendum

Westmonster
The House of Commons has rejected an Article 50 extension to hold a second referendum. MPs rejected the attempt to ignore and overrule 17.4 million Leave voters who backed Brexit in 2016, voting against a second referendum extension by 334 to 85. Those calling for a second referendum, including the so-called ‘People’s Vote’ campaign, totally bottled backing…a second referendum. How utterly pathetic is that? Almost as if they realise they would be absolutely smashed by voters furious that they will have been ignored and told to vote again.

Mirror
MPs have voted to reject holding a second referendum on leaving the EU. It came after Labour refused to back the call – despite Jeremy Corbyn pledging to throw the party’s weight behind a fresh EU vote.  The party committed to supporting another poll but when the chance came to back “Amendment H” demanding a re-run vote in the Commons, MPs were ordered to abstain. The Commons crushed the bid – the first time MPs had a chance to vote on a people’s vote – by 334 votes to 85, majority 249. It was the first time MPs had a chance to vote on a people’s vote and they rejected it by 334 votes to 85 – a majority of 249.

LibDems

Mail
Vince Cable will step down as Liberal Democrat leader after local elections in May. In an interview with the Mail today, the former business secretary reveals that he has decided to leave to pave the way for the ‘next generation’ to lead the party through Brexit. He admits he had presided over a ‘gradual’ rather than a ‘spectacular’ recovery of the party. But he says he will continue as an MP and devote his spare time to advancing his literary career with another political thriller.

Mirror
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable tonight fired the starting gun on the race to replace him by announcing he would quit after the May local elections. He told members in an email: “I wanted you, our members, to know that, assuming Parliament does not collapse into an early General Election, I will ask the party to begin a leadership contest in May.”  The move comes as the party faithful gather in York on Friday night for their Spring Conference.

Sun
VINCE Cable will step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats in May after promising to guide his party through Brexit which he says “may never happen.” The veteran MP, 75, says he will now vacate the role after local elections in the spring to concentrate on his literary career.  Mr Cable told the Daily Mail that he wants to let a “new generation” lead the Lib Dems who currently only have 11 Members of Parliament.

Trade

Express
BRITAIN has struck a post-Brexit trade deal with Fiji and Papua New Guinea as UK tries to line up as many agreements as possible before leaving the European Union. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox signed the UK-Pacific agreement in London today with the Papua New Guinea and Fiji High Commissioners. The agreement allows businesses to trade as freely as they do now with the guarantee of no barriers or tariffs being introduced after Britain leaves the EU. The deal eliminates all tariffs on goods imported from Fiji and Papua New Guinea into the UK and will gradually remove around 80 percent of tariffs on British exports to these countries.

Manston airfield

Mirror
An unexploded bomb has been found at the airport set to be used as a lorry park in a no-deal Brexit scenario. Hapless Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had planned to use Manston Airport as an overflow area to hold lorries caught in huge tailbacks at Dover. But today police and army bomb disposal crews were called to the former airfield in Kent to dispose of a ‘huge’ World War II device. And the device is reportedly BRITISH. It’s thought the enormous pipe bomb was deliberately planted under the runway in order to destroy it if the Germans invaded.

Sun
CHRIS Grayling’s No Deal push was hit by a WWII RAF bomb yesterday – as diggers were forced to stop emergency work at Manston Airport. Bomb disposal squads were called to the site – earmarked for a lorry park if Britain crashes out without an agreement – just before 11am to get rid of the device. The bomb was planted in the 1940s to destroy the airfield in the event of a Nazi invasion.

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