Every day of the Brexit process brings new and startling turns, but Theresa May’s latest gambit moves events into new realms of astonishment. On Friday, she instructed Sir Tim Barrow, our man in Brussels, to write a letter to the EU which formally agrees to Article 50 being extended to April 12 (at least), without first waiting for Parliament to approve the extension. The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 governs our exit from the EU. It says that “exit day” will be on March 29. After that day, the European Communities Act 1972 – which gives effect to EU treaty obligations in UK domestic law – will be repealed.
MPs will debate an amendable Government motion on the Brexit deal on Monday, where they will have the chance to put their favoured outcomes to a vote. It will be down to Speaker John Bercow which proposals are selected for a division. Votes are expected to start at around 10pm. These are the amendments tabled by Monday morning:
This cross-party plan, backed by Sir Oliver Letwin, Dominic Grieve and Hilary Benn, seeks to pave the way for a series of “indicative votes” in the Commons on Wednesday, effectively taking control of the Brexit process out of the hands of the Government.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment rejects a no-deal Brexit and demands the Government sets out by the end of Thursday how it will ensure the UK does not crash out of the EU on April 12 without a Withdrawal Agreement, if the PM’s plan is rejected again. Tory MPs Sir Oliver Letwin and Dame Caroline Spelman are among the signatories.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party has tabled an amendment instructing the Government to provide parliamentary time this week so MPs can find a majority for an alternative to the PM’s Brexit plan. They say the other options could include Labour’s plan, a customs union, second referendum or a Common Market 2.0.
The Independent Group are joined by Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs in calling for the Prime Minister to immediately make the “necessary preparations” for a second referendum.
Labour MP Dame Margaret Beckett’s amendment seeks to make the Government move a motion on whether the Commons approves the UK leaving without a deal and on whether there should be an extension to Article 50 if Britain comes within seven days of crashing out.
Backed by prominent Brexiteers from across the House, Tory Will Quince’s amendment simply seeks to reaffirm Parliament’s “commitment to honour the result of the referendum that the UK should leave the European Union”.
With support from members of the Independent Group, the Lib Dem amendment calls for a two-year extension to Article 50 to hold a second referendum on whether to leave the EU under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement or to stay a member.
The House of Commons is preparing for another week dominated by Brexit, as Theresa May’s position looks increasingly uncertain. The prime minister spent Sunday afternoon in crisis meetings at her country residence, Chequers, where she tried to persuade fellow Conservatives to back her Brexit agreement. Among the attendees were prominent Brexiteer backbenchers including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis. But her office gave no hint as to the degree of her success, saying in a statement that the MPs had discussed “whether there is sufficient support” to bring her plan back to Parliament for a third vote.
Cabinet ministers are openly at war over solving the Brexit crisis, after MPs were threatened with a general election if they try to force through an alternative to Theresa May’s deal. As claims of a plot to topple the prime minister were denied by potential replacements, a bid by the Commons to seize control this week was dramatically torpedoed by the Brexit secretary. Stephen Barclay vowed that any softer exit plan that crossed Tory red lines would be rejected, warning MPs tempted to vote for it that “the risk of a general election increases”.
Serious political manoeuvrings are taking place this weekend, with a Cabinet that has seemingly lost all faith in Theresa May to deliver on Brexit. Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times broke news of a Cabinet coup last night, revealing that no fewer than 11 Cabinet Ministers want the Prime Minister to resign. The group reportedly will confront May on Monday. The rumoured frontrunners to take over are the ultra Remainer David Lidington who currently serves as May’s number two and Leave campaigner Michael Gove. Some Brexiteers are likely to resist either. Both men backed May’s deal and could seek to lock the UK into a Brexit in name only, though Gove having at least campaigned for Brexit is likely to be a much popular choice amongst grassroot Conservatives.
Theresa May’s prospects of getting her Brexit deal through parliament this week dramatically receded on Sunday night after a high-stakes summit with Boris Johnson and other leading hard-Brexiters at her country retreat broke up without agreement. Tory rebels present said that the prime minister repeated “all the same lines” about her deal and that nothing new emerged during the three-hour meeting, at which Jacob Rees-Mogg, Iain Duncan Smith and Dominic Raab were also present. One source said May was told by some of those present, including Rees-Mogg, that to get her Brexit deal through she needed to spell out when she was quitting No 10 so that another prime minister could lead the next phase of EU trade negotiations.
The correct reports in Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday this morning that some ministers (not all) want Theresa May to go now, and make way for a caretaker – either David Lidington or Michael Gove – tells me NOT she will definitely go within a few days (though she may) but that the Government is perilously close to collapse. Because what it shows is the underlying split in the Cabinet between those ministers – Gauke, Clark, Rudd, Mundell – who want to stop a no-deal Brexit at any cost, and those who want to prevent either a referendum or a “soft” Brexit “in name only” – Leadsom, Mordaunt, Fox, Grayling – has become irreconcilable. For a brief moment at the end of last week ministers on the more Remain side in particular thought replacing May would paper over this yawning gap on the most important decision this country has faced since we joined the EU in 1973 – but it can’t and won’t.
MINISTERS and senior Tories were rallying behind Theresa May last night as they urged MPs to back her Brexit deal. They insisted Mrs May should remain “captain” of the ship ahead of a critical week which could finally bring an end to the Brexit deadlock. And they warned plotters behind a damaging Cabinet coup to apologise and “shut up”. In another extraordinary day in Westminster, Michael Gove and David Lidington both pledged their support to the beleaguered Prime Minister after being named at the centre of the Cabinet coup to oust her from No.10. The Environment Secretary said it was “not the time to change the captain of the ship”, while Mr Liddington said he had no desire to take over the reins.
HOUSE of Commons officials have prepared an emergency protocol in case Theresa May collapses while addressing Parliament. The Prime Minister has faced a string of Commons defeats in recent months, travelling back and forth to Brussels to negotiate a withdrawal agreement as Britain prepares to leave the EU. Mrs May has faced a strong backlash from her MPs, trying to pass her deal through the Commons on two occasions but so far failing to gain enough votes. On 12 March, Mrs May lost her voice as she struggled to address the Commons, after her deal lost by 149 votes. Commons officials have prepared an emergency protocol in the event of Mrs May becoming unwell while at the dispatch box.
Theresa May was told she must set a date for her departure during crunch talks with Eurosceptics at Chequers amid warnings that her deal will be defeated in the Commons. The Prime Minister invited Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Iain Duncan Smith, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Steve Baker and David Davis to her country retreat for last-ditch talks. During three hours of “frank” discussions she issued an appeal for them to support her deal and said that Britain faced a significantly softer Brexit if it fails to pass in the Commons. The Telegraph was told that several of those present, including Mr Rees-Mogg, the leading Eurosceptic, asked her to set a timetable for her departure.
Theresa May‘s government has ‘bottled it completely’ over Brexit according to Boris Johnson as she clings to power after holding crisis talks with her Brexit critics at Chequers yesterday. During a three-hour meeting, Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg warned the Prime Minister she must set out a timetable for her departure to get her deal through the Commons. Mrs May dug in, warning Eurosceptics including Mr Johnson and David Davis that if they refused to get behind her plan, MPs would force through a ‘soft’ Brexit. But Mr Johnson, writing in The Telegraph, said the government had a ‘chickened out’ and ‘bottled it completely’ over Brexit.
Theresa May has resisted pressure to set a date for her departure in return for support for her EU divorce deal after a threatened cabinet coup fizzled out. After meeting prominent Brexiteers at Chequers yesterday, the prime minister is instead expected to allow parliament to move towards a softer exit from the European Union. The strategy is designed to scare hard Brexiteers into line and steer them towards her deal while seeing off an attempt by MPs to seize control of Commons business. Mrs May summoned Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith, Dominic Raab, Steve Baker, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg for one last effort to persuade them to support her deal.
Theresa May could survive the palace coup which appeared to be unfolding at breakneck speed on Saturday night, as the Cabinet ministers who were frontrunners to take over as “caretaker” leaders publicly disavow the plot. Mrs May has clung on through numerous political reverses which seemed certain to bring her down: losing the Tory party’s parliamentary majority in the 2017 snap election; the resignations of Boris Johnson and the inaugural Brexit secretary (and later his successor) over her EU strategy; a vote of no confidence in her as party leader which saw over half her backbenchers back her removal; her government becoming the first in recorded history to be found in Contempt of Parliament; suffering a historic parliamentary defeat when she put her proposed Brexit deal to MPs (twice), and a vote of no confidence in her government by the Opposition.
Philip Hammond said a second referendum is a “perfectly coherent proposition” which “deserves to be considered”, while Theresa May gathers Brexiteers at an emergency meeting in Chequers. The Chancellor said a coup in Cabinet against Mrs Maywould be “self indulgent” and warned that “the stakes are very high for our nation and for us as a government.” Asked which Brexit options he would consider if they were put to Parliament in a series of “indicative votes”, the Chancellor said no deal and revoking Article 50 should be off the table. However, he did not rule out supporting a second referendum.
Philip Hammond added to the pressure on Theresa May yesterday to allow votes on an alternative to her Brexit deal. The chancellor said that MPs should have the right to vote on the “perfectly coherent” option of putting the Brexit question back to the public in a second referendum, saying that people were desperate for a way forward. Options for a softer Brexit include the UK committing to join a customs union and remaining in most of the single market. While most business would welcome either outcome, Mrs May has insisted that the UK must be able to have an independent trade policy — which rules out a customs union — and that it cannot be bound by EU freedom of movement rules.
Norway-plus (by Yanis Varoufakis)
Brexit is, undeniably, important. The Prime Minister’s faulty negotiations have now turned what the majority of the British people considered an opportunity into a national crisis. However, now is perhaps the moment to reflect that, in an era of trade wars, geopolitical realignment and existential threats to our nations’ democracies, Brexit is not as important as we have allowed ourselves to imagine. Its mishandling has certainly whipped up damaging uncertainty – not helped by the events of the last week. Nevertheless, the decision of Japanese car makers to end production in the UK reflects a broader change in the global division of labour.
A Tory MP has called on Remainers signing a petition to stop Brexit to join the Conservative Party. Antoinette Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury, near Chester, said in a tweet that if just one per cent joined the party they could have a ‘decisive’ say on who the next leader will be. It provoked an angry response from Brexit-supporter Arron Banks, who claims to have given millions to campaign groups calling for Britain to quit the EU. As many as 5.1 million people have signed the Revoke Article 50 petition so far, with the number still rising. Ms Sandbach wrote on Twitter: ‘If just one per cent of those who signed the Revoke Article 50 Petition joined the Conservative party they would have a vote for the next leader of the party, you would have a decisive say. ‘It could be the best £25.00 you have ever spent.’
Voting for a softer Brexit could lead to a general election, the Brexit Secretary has warned as MPs prepare to vote for a series of “indicative votes” this week. Stephen Barclay said rejecting Theresa May’s deal while also taking no deal off the table could result in the Conservative party breaking its manifesto promises. Indicative votes allow MPs to decide on a series of options designed to see what can command a majority in Parliament. Supporters of the plan believe it could provide a way out of the current political deadlock. Mr Barclay said “the risk of a general election increases” if the Commons goes down this path.
Theresa May will ignore any Commons vote for a softer Brexit and push for a general election instead, a cabinet minister has warned MPs. An ‘indicative vote” to keep the UK in the EU customs union or single market would be unacceptable because it collided with the Conservative election manifesto, Stephen Barclay said. “The risk of a general election increases,” the Brexit secretary said, in a threat to MPs refusing to pass the prime minister’s unpopular deal. It came as Mr Barclay was repeatedly asked if the so-called “indicative votes” MPs planned to stage this week on all possible ways out of the crisis would be binding and accepted by the government.
BRITAIN is heading for a general election “disaster” if Theresa May’s deal cannot be agreed by Parliament, senior government sources warned. The caution came as the country’s bitter divisions were exposed yesterday with hundreds of thousands of Remainers descending on London demanding that Brexit is blocked. It came amid intense speculation that Mrs May is on the brink of being pushed out as Conservative leader and Prime Minister by her own Cabinet, with fears among even some closest allies that she has lost control in Parliament and the country. Senior Tory MPs yesterday lined up to accuse Downing Street of trying to scare MPs into backing the PM’s deal.
Women face discrimination as a growing number of “one-man” Sharia councils pop up, an Islamic scholar has warned. Khola Hasan, a scholar at the Islamic Sharia Council in east London, said that a number of new councils had sprung up, run from living rooms, the back of shops or even through the post. Sharia councils offer advice and rulings on Islamic law. They mainly deal with religious divorce cases and most of their clients are women seeking to dissolve their Islamic marriage. An independent review into Sharia councils last year raised concerns that the bodies “engage in practices which are discriminatory to women”, particularly because Islamic law grants men the right to divorce their wives by simply declaring the marriage to be over.
Police forces face a super-complaint over their alleged failure to protect victims of modern slavery. Hestia, a charity that specialises in helping victims of slavery, has lodged the complaint today after its investigation found just seven per cent of reported cases of modern slavery were being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by police. This is despite a 250 per cent rise in the number of operations to more than 1,100, which the National Crime Agency (NCA) last week said had been fuelled by children being exploited by county lines drug gangs. The super-complaint, which will automatically trigger an inquiry by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, is being backed by the Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove. “Victims are being alienated by the criminal justice system to the extent that they disappear or in some cases return to their captors,” said Baroness Newlove.
The RAF plans to introduce a new generation of strike drones that fly for twice as long as those they are replacing. The American-made Protector drones will provide a “significantly enhanced capability”, including bigger and more sophisticated weapon payloads. They will come into service by 2024, replacing the Reaper drones, the first of which was decommissioned this month. The remaining nine, which have been used over Syria and Iraq, will be retired when no longer needed.
Army veterans are plotting a boycott of the Cenotaph remembrance parade in protest at the prosecution for murder of a former paratrooper over Bloody Sunday. The decision to bring charges against the soldier, now in his 70s, has stirred up huge resentment among comrades who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Former members of the Parachute Regiment have said they will refuse to attend the official Remembrance Sunday service and parade as a result. They are in talks with other units to join their boycott. Applications to take part in the National Service of Remembrance, held in Whitehall, open next month.