THERESA May faces a revolt by Tory Brexiteers tonight following growing concerns the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could be delayed. Up to 80 Tory backbenchers are threatening to refuse to back the Prime Minister in tonight’s Commons vote on a Government motion endorsing her push for a revamped Brexit deal. The MPs allied to the European Research Group, chaired by senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg, claim the motion effectively rules out a no-deal Brexit. Several Cabinet ministers were also understood to be considering quitting if a lengthy delay in the withdrawal process is agreed.
The government could be facing another embarrassing parliamentary defeat, after a group of Tory Eurosceptics suggested they were ready to rebel in a Brexit vote later today. The motion asks the House of Commons to “reiterate its support” for what was agreed in a previous set of votes two weeks ago. In that vote MPs passed an amendment requiring the Prime Minister to seek changes to the Irish backstop in fresh negotiations with Brussels, but also saw a majority for an amendment that ruled out leaving the EU without a deal.
Theresa May is braced for another damaging defeat in the Commons on Thursday after Tory Eurosceptics accused her of ruling out a no deal Brexit. The European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers says it cannot support a Government motion being put to a vote on Thursday after describing Mrs May’s position as “madness”. Senior sources within the ERG said the group would abstain, and with Labour expected to vote against the motion, it will mean yet another Brexit defeat for Mrs May just 43 days before Britain is due to leave the EU.
A pro-Brexit faction of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party will not back her motion in parliament on Thursday that seeks renewed backing for her Brexit plan, the BBC’s political editor reported without citing sources. The government refused to alter the motion to meet the demands of the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit hardliners, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg said. “Brexiteer group haven’t decided yet if they will abstain or vote against but they won’t back govt – either way, another reminder May just can’t rely on her backbenches,” Kuenssberg tweeted.
A big row is brewing this morning over the motion that the Government has tabled for tomorrow’s full day of debate on Brexit in the Commons, which the eurosceptic MPs in the European Research Group have told government whips they cannot support. With MPs having expected a neutral, anodyne (albeit amendable) motion to be tabled, instead the Government yesterday tabled a motion that endorses the approach to Brexit as agreed by amendments passed by the Commons on 29th January.
MPs are to debate and vote on the next steps in the Brexit process later, as Theresa May continues to try to get a deal through Parliament. A series of amendments – designed to change the direction of Brexit – will be considered in the debate, which is expected to be a routine procedure. But BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the PM could be facing another defeat. Some Tory Brexiteers are refusing to back the government, she said. No 10 insists
Hardline Brexit supporters are threatening to inflict yet another Commons defeat on Theresa May because they fear the government is effectively ruling out leaving the EU with no deal. Members of the Tory European Research Group are unhappy with the wording of a No 10 motion because it endorses parliament’s vote against any Brexit without a withdrawal agreement. The motion for debate on Thursday simply affirms “the approach to leaving the EU” backed by the Commons on 29 January, when an amendment was passed in favour of an attempt to replace the Northern Ireland backstop with “alternative arrangements”.
The Tory truce over Brexit stands on the brink of falling apart tonight as Theresa May faced another bruising Commons defeat by hardline Brexiteers. Eurosceptic MPs were furious they are being forced to vote on a Government motion that they claimed would commit her to avoiding a no-deal Brexit. The vote, while not legally binding, gives MPs another chance to have their say on the Prime Minister’s Brexit plans. They will be asked to confirm they still back the approach to leaving the EU that was passed by a stormy Commons on January 29.
Theresa May is facing a fresh attempt by a cross-party groups of MPs to prevent a no-deal Brexit if she fails to reach an agreement with Brussels by mid-March. Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin are among the group, which have said they are ready to table an amendment enabling Parliament to force ministers to seek a delay if there is no deal in place.
Theresa May has dismissed the row over her chief negotiator saying she plans to threaten MPs with a “long” delay to Brexit as something “overheard in a bar”. However, the prime minister again failed to rule out extending Article 50 – which Olly Robbins is alleged to have floated, if MPs still refuse to back her deal by the end of March. The SNP said it showed Ms May’s claim she is ready to crash out of the EU if necessary had reached the “end of the road” because she had been “rumbled by your own loose-lipped Brexit adviser”. Brexiteer Tories are furious after Mr Robbins was quoted as saying: “Extension [of Article 50] is possible but if they don’t vote for the deal then the extension is a long one.”
THERESA May has today been forced to deny that she’s secretly planning to delay Brexit after a bombshell ‘leak’ revealing the PM wants to run the clock down. Last night Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator was overheard in a bar saying she will threaten MPs with a huge delay if they don’t back her deal next month. Olly Robbins said he expected the PM to take Brexit talks right down to the wire next month, ITV revealed. And then she would present MPs with a simple choice between backing a revised deal or extending the Article 50 process for a significant period of time beyond March 29.
THE EU is colluding with Theresa May’s Government to carry out “delay tactics” to put pressure on the UK Parliament and force MPs to accept the Withdrawal Agreement out of fear of a no-deal Brexit, it has been claimed. Chances of seeing the changes to the backstop wanted by the MPs and the UK leaving the EU on time are getting slimmer by the hour, as Whitehall and Brussels are collaborating on running down the clock, according to EU officials. The EU looks is poised to add small concessions on the Irish border backstop only on the summit taking place on March 21, days before March 29, Brexit day.
The British government is “pretending to negotiate” with the European Union and has not presented any new proposals to break the Brexit deadlock, according to EU officials. Theresa May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, and the Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, met senior EU officials and MEPs in Brussels and Strasbourg this week, but the talks yielded no obvious results. The British side thinks a crucial process has begun and hopes progress will have been made by 27 February when MPs are expected to have another crunch Brexit vote. However, on Wednesday night European council president Donald Tusk said the EU27 was still waiting for proposals.
Guy Verhofstadt has called Italy’s President Giuseppe Conte a “puppet” of the populist deputy prime ministers and said the country was suffering from “political degeneration.” The remarks came during a heated exchange in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday after President Conte, an independent, gave a speech where he said that the EU had “lost contact” with Europe’s people and demanded Brussels come to a permanent solution to the migrant crisis, according to Politico. Leftist and progressive MEPs launched attacks on Conte, with socialist grouping leader Udo Bullmann saying that Italy was heading “into political and economic isolation.”
European governments are being warned that Britain may in future hold back military help for EU countries if there is a no-deal Brexit, HuffPost UK understands. Officials have told foreign diplomats that while Theresa May is fully committed to maintaining strong defence and security ties, future governments could be less willing to support new missions in the EU like the current deployment of troops to Estonia, on Russia’s border.
Sinn Féin has urged Theresa May and Ireland’s taoiseach Leo Varadkar to plan for a referendum on a united Ireland in event the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Mary Lou McDonald, the Sinn Féin leader, which has seven seats in Westminster, made the same call in an hour-long meeting on Wednesday with the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, as part of a campaign to lay the grounds for a border poll to decide the future of the island. “In the event there is a no-deal Brexit then the Irish question looms very large, because if that happens there will be an absolute imperative, a democratic imperative, to put the issue of Irish unity to the people by way of referendum,” McDonald said.
Jeremy Corbyn is facing up to 10 resignations from Labour’s top team if he fails to push the case for a new Brexit referendum, it has been reported. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has insisted that the option of a new Brexit poll remains on the table as he admitted that Labour’s preferred scenario of a snap general election is looking unlikely. Labour has tabled an amendment to the Government motion requiring Mrs May to either put her deal to a Commons vote by February 27 or allow Parliament to take control of the process. And now anti-Brexit Labour MPs, junior shadow ministers and grassroots members have told The Guardian they are prepared to resign if Mr Corbyn does not also lend his support to a pro-referendum amendment later this month.
Labour discord over Brexit has re-emerged after Jeremy Corbyn’s office and senior shadow minister Sir Keir Starmer took different positions on the best next steps for the party. The leader’s spokesman was forced to reiterate that pushing for a new election is the party’s preference after Sir Keir indicated that a compromise deal or a new referendum were the “only credible options now left”. It follows claims that Sir Keir was left angry when the leader’s office removed a line from a Labour letter to Theresa May giving support to a people’s vote.
A SHOCK poll has revealed trust in Jeremy Corbyn has dramatically dropped from 40 percent to 11 percent. Following the poll results, Prime Minister Theresa May launched a scathing attack against Mr Corbyn today – saying he has destroyed his reputation with Brexit failures. In Wednesday’s PMQs Mrs May accused Mr Corbyn of “playing politics” and being unable to decide if he wants Brexit or a second referendum. Mrs May said: “People used to say he was a conviction politician – not anymore.” The Tory poll revealed 40 percent of the UK used to think the leader of the Opposition was a man of his word.
Jeremy Corbyn faces up to 10 resignations from the Labour frontbench if he fails to throw his party’s weight behind a fresh attempt to force Theresa May to submit her Brexit deal to a referendum in a fortnight’s time, frustrated MPs are warning. With tension mounting among anti-Brexit Labour MPs and grassroots members, several junior shadow ministers have told the Guardian they are prepared to resign their posts if Corbyn doesn’t whip his MPs to vote for a pro-referendum amendment at the end of the month. Corbyn has been struggling to balance the conflicting forces in his party over Brexit, as the clock ticks down towards exit day on 29 March.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has called for tough rules to swiftly kick out antisemitic Labour members, following rows at a shadow cabinet meeting over the party’s backlog of complaints. The deputy leader, Tom Watson, clashed with the party’s chair, Ian Lavery, at a shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday which was entirely dedicated to the subject. Watson accused the Liverpool Wavertree branch of “bullying” its MP, Luciana Berger, who has also been subjected to antisemitic abuse. Lavery criticised Watson for calling for the branch to be suspended, sources said. Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, revealed on Monday that 673 complaints alleging antisemitism against party members had been made in the past 10 months, resulting in 12 expulsions.
Theresa May’s bid to defend a £14m Brexit ferries contract fell apart spectacularly today after she was accused of misleading PMQs. The Prime Minister claimed “proper due diligence” was carried out on Seaborne Freight – the firm dropped at the weekend after signing a deal to provide ferries, despite having no ferries. But her evidence involved naming three firms behind the checks – without mentioning what those firms actually did. People instantly started quoting the respected and independent National Audit Office, which confirmed Deloitte “did not make a formal assessment of Seaborne financial stability.”
Theresa May has come under renewed pressure over a botched no-deal ferry contract handed to a firm which had no ships. The decision to award the £13.8m deal to Seaborne Freight was widely mocked at the time, and transport secretary Chris Grayling faced calls to resign over the matter amid claims that he misled MPs about whether taxpayers’ money had been spent on the contract. The prime minister also faced anger from MPs after her top Brexit aide was overheard describing plans to offer MPs with a last-minute choice between her deal and a “long” delay.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Jeremy Corbyn actually asked a vaguely coherent set of questions on a big issue of the day at PMQs today, going on the attack over Seaborne Freight. However, in his excitement it appears that Corbyn may have actually got his facts seriously wrong, with Craig Mackinlay writing to Corbyn to challenge him over whether he misled the House with his claim that the Government’s decision had increased Thanet Council’s budget deficit by “nearly two million pounds”. Bizarrely, the Mirror decided to make an underwhelming ‘Thug Life’ meme purely on the basis of Corbyn’s facial reaction when Mackinlay challenged him at PMQs.
Almost all councils in England plan to increase council tax from April and three-quarters intend to raise it above 2.75%, research reveals. The maximum rise allowed without a local referendum is 2.99%. Similar proportions plan to raise charges and fees. Despite council tax bills soaring, many residents face further cuts in services. Most councils warned that they would be reducing a range of services, from adult social care to libraries and recycling. The annual survey by the Local Government Information Unit thinktank found that cuts were increasingly visible and that after eight years of austerity – which has cost English councils 40% of their central funding – half of councils felt cuts were now “negatively affecting relationships with citizens”.
Almost all local councils in England will increase council tax over the next year as a new survey seen by ITV News shows local government finances reaching breaking point. In a sign that some councils can no longer protect core services for the vulnerable from cuts, nearly a third of councils intend to reduce adult social care and a quarter to reduce children’s services. Last year Northamptonshire council declared bankruptcy and a number of other councils threatened collapse as local councils of all political colours struggled with a reduction in funds from central government and rising demands for social care.
THERESA May personally pledged to bring back a draft law to crackdown on female genital mutilation as she slammed the veteran Tory MP who blocked it last week. Sir Christopher Chope last week used parliamentary procedure to halt the draft law sponsored by fellow Tory MP Zac Goldsmith passing through Parliament. The bill proposed a change to child welfare laws that would have allowed courts to protect children at risk of FGM. It was intended to stop young kids being taken abroad by their parents to undergo the horrific and permanently damaging procedure.
John McDonnell provoked a furious backlash last night when he described Winston Churchill as a ‘villain’. The Shadow Chancellor was accused of ‘blackening the name’ of the country’s ‘greatest hero’ in comments made during an interview in Westminster. Asked at the event hosted by the Politico website whether Sir Winston was a ‘hero or villain’, he replied: ‘Villain. Tonypandy.’ This was a reference to the Welsh mining village where Churchill ordered in troops to help police quell riots in 1910.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has branded Winston Churchill a “villain”. The Labour heavyweight made the comment in reference to the the way Britain’s wartime leader dealt with striking Welsh miners while home secretary in 1910. Mr Churchill’s decision to send troops to support police quelling riots in Tonypandy has long been a subject of historical debate. In a question and answer session with the Politico website, Mr McDonnell was asked: “Winston Churchill, hero or villain?”
Doctors have accused the Government of neglecting heart failure patients after a study found survival rates have barely improved in nearly 20 years. The terminal condition – which is often mistaken for asthma or mere old age – currently affects more than 920,000 people in the UK. But despite medical advances in treating many serious conditions, including cancer, experts at the universities of Oxford and Birmingham warned that the chances of dying from heart failure have hardly changed since 2000 as it ‘has not been a priority area in Government policy or funding’.
Italian mozzarella producers are challenging their British counterparts to a grand taste-off after being stung by claims that British-made cheese is better than their own. There is a small but growing band of buffalo mozzarella farmers in the UK, who stand to benefit if a no-deal Brexit strangles the import of food from the continent. The gauntlet was thrown down by the Italians after one proud producer of buffalo mozzarella in Hampshire claimed that his cheese was not just equal to the iconic Italian original, but superior.