THERESA May has avoided a debilitating Brexit defeat in the House of Commons after rebel MPs backed down and voted with the Government on a number of Withdrawal Bill amendments – but has the Prime Minister permanently sacrificed a hard Brexit in order to stave off a rebellion and inadvertently strengthened the EU’s hand? Theresa May began the day staring down the barrel of a humiliating Brexit defeat, with the Commons set to vote on a raft of exit bill amendments put forward by the House of Lords. To add to Mrs May’s headache was the shock resignation of her justice minister Dr Phillip Lee, who said he could not carry on in his role given the Government’s “wish to limit Parliament’s role”.
Tory MPs are to discuss with ministers what will happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit – amid calls for Theresa May to honour “assurances” to them. The government averted a rebellion on Tuesday over whether Parliament should have a decisive say in such a scenario. MPs said they were offered, in a last-minute concession, real “input” if no deal with the EU was done by December. But Solicitor General Robert Buckland said while talks may “yield fruit” – he could not guarantee a change in policy. While promising “further discussions”, he said he was concerned that empowering Parliament to “instruct” ministers what to do in the event of no deal would leave the UK in “very rocky constitutional territory”.
Theresa May’s Brexit truce risked being unravelled as Remainers indicated she faced a future rebellion if a compromise is not reached on the role of MPs in the divorce settlement. The Prime Minister bought time after agreeing to find concessions on giving Parliament a meaningful vote on the European Union exit deal. But officials insisted the Government had not and would not agree to MPs binding its hands and a senior minister would only go as far as saying there “could” be a fresh proposal put forward.
MPs will be given a say on what the government should do if Theresa May fails to strike a Brexit deal after a backbench rebellion forced the prime minister into a U-turn. Mrs May gave in to demands from pro-EU MPs that parliament should be consulted on whether “no deal is better than a bad deal”. The concession headed off a Commons defeat but underlined the prime minister’s fragile authority. Brexiteers said that the compromise would send a signal to Brussels that British threats to walk away from negotiations could be ignored.
Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to bow to pressure from pro-Europe rebels in her party for a second day on Wednesday when MPs debate the government’s plans for future customs relations with the European Union. The government was forced into a major compromise on Tuesday when it had to agree to give parliament a greater role in Brexit negotiations to avert a defeat at the hands of rebels from her own party who want to keep close EU ties after Britain leaves the bloc in March next year. Two days of debate on the laws that will end Britain’s EU membership have crystallised long-running divisions within May’s party about the best strategy for leaving the EU, bringing to a head issues that will determine the relationship between the world’s fifth-largest economy and its biggest trading bloc.
Rebel Conservatives have forced Theresa May into a climbdown, handing parliament greater control of Brexit if she fails to seal a deal. After the prime minister was threatened with what could have been a damaging commons defeat, she promised key concessions in dramatic last minute talks with pro-EU rebels. It is likely to mean her accepting a deadline by which she must secure a deal with Brussels, if she wants to stay in the driving seat for negotiations. Her ministers must now spell out the detail of her compromises within days, with Tory rebels warning a failure to do so would reignite the prospect of a major commons loss destabilising her leadership.
DESPERATE Theresa May escaped a crippling defeat on Brexit yesterday in a Commons farce. The PM came through a crucial vote only after pro-EU Tories forced her to agree to boost Remainer MPs’ power over negotiations with Brussels. But amid chaos last night, Leavers flatly denied Remainers’ claims that Mrs May had allowed them to veto any “no-deal” walk away. Senior Brexiteers insisted that the PM had told them the exact opposite just minutes later — and had promised the rebels nothing but a discussion. No10 faced massive pressure to clear up the confusion. A senior Brexiteer in the Government told The Sun: “If Theresa has sold us out here she is in real trouble. There is no way she can recover if she has f***ed us over.”
Theresa May has scraped through a crucial Brexit vote after she made a frantic last-minute climbdown to stop a Tory revolt. The Prime Minister survived after a day of chaos that saw a minister quit over her handling of Brexit . She has defeated calls to give MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on her plans for leaving the EU – which could have blocked a No Deal Brexit. The ambitious bid was passed by the House of Lords, and looked like it had enough support to pass the Commons. But MPs defeated it by 324 votes to 298 – a healthy 26 majority – after Tory ministers made a compromise just minutes before the vote happened.
The reality of a hung parliament was laid bare yesterday as the government was forced to negotiate a compromise with Brexit rebels on the floor of the House of Commons. Theresa May staved off a defeat on a Lords amendment that would have given parliament the final say on any deal she strikes with Brussels. However, only moments before the crucial votes took place she personally had to persuade more than a dozen pro-EU Tories in her Commons office that she would accommodate their concerns.
Remain rebels backed down in a Brexit showdown with the Government tonight after last-ditch concessions allowed Theresa May to win a crucial vote. The 324 to 298 victory means the Prime Minister has survived the most difficult vote in a marathon two day debate on 15 changes made by the Lords to flagship Brexit laws. But winning the vote came at the price of promises of concessions to rebel ringleader Dominic Grieve. The ex-minister appeared to have enough support to inflict a second humiliating defeat on the Government over Brexit.
JUSTICE Minister Philip Lee resigned today over the government’s “irresponsible” approach to Brexit just before MPs debated and voted on amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Remain-supporting Mr Lee of the Leave-voting Bracknell constituency quit as justice minister during a speech in London. He said his main objection was over the government’s “wish to limit Parliament’s role in contributing to the final outcome” in the form of a “meaningful vote” and called for the government’s final proposals to be put to the public in a second referendum.
The government ‘won’ the meaningful vote amendment by conceding parts a) and b) of the Dominic Grieve amendment. Those sections say that if there is no deal by November 30 then the Commons must “approve” the “course of action”. Remainers are briefing out that this means the EU will drag its feet until November 30, by which point parliament takes control of the negotiation, no deal is effectively off the table and the UK position is ultimately watered down to EEA+. If these tweets from two very clued up Brexit journalists prove to be correct, Brexiters have been totally played.
CANCELLING Britain’s £40billion EU divorce fee could boost the economy by up to 1.5%, a report by a former City of London economist said yesterday. Analysis showed that refusing to hand over the taxpayers’ cash to Brussels “would bring a significant Brexit boost” for the UK in the years after the country’s scheduled departure from the bloc. The Government could use the money saved to slash borrowing or cut taxes, the report said. David Smith, a former visiting professor in Business and Economic Forecasting at the University of Derby who publishes quarterly economic forecasts for the City, identified the potential benefits in a report released yesterday by the policy think tank Politeia.
House of Lords
Political institution Sir Bill Cash has weighed in on interference from the House of Lords, saying today’s Remoaners were just using votes in the Commons as cover for a reversal of Brexit. The long-time Eurosceptic said: “This is just a cover for a reversal of the decision, it’s got to be said and it’s got to be said clearly and I do find it quite extraordinary that there should be some attempt to throw it back to the House of Lords so that they can then tell us, we the people who are elected by the people of this country, who themselves have been given the right to make the decision on behalf of themselves, their families and future generations.
Three ministers have held talks with an anti-Brexit campaign group which wants them to back a second EU referendum in defiance of the Government, it has been claimed. The Telegraph understands that the Best for Britaingroup has held a series of talks with Remain-supporting ministers and MPs to encourage them to oppose Theresa May. It comes after Phillip Lee, a justice minister who reportedly held talks with Best For Britain, became the first member of the Government to resign over Mrs May’s Brexit policy on Tuesday.
A number of Theresa May‘s ministers have had talks with an anti-Brexit campaign group pushing for a second referendum, it was claimed last night. It is understood that Best for Britain has been speaking to at least three Remain-supporting ministers. The news came after justice minister Phillip Lee became the first member of the government to resign over Mrs May’s Brexit policy on Tuesday. Tory sources believe other junior ministers are considering quitting as part of a co-ordinated plot against the Prime Minister.
FIVE more pro-EU ministers may join Philip Lee in resigning in protest over Theresa May’s Brexit policy, Tory rebels claim. The justice minister stunned No10 by announcing his surprise walk during a speech to a think tank at 9.30am. Issuing a brutal attack on the PM, Mr Lee said he could no longer support her ill-thought plan as “the UK is not going to be ready in time”. No10 also fears that other mid-ranking ministers who backed Remain may go before the summer is out, with five names from the mid ranks of the government on a danger list.
JEREMY Corbyn is facing another humiliating rebellion in his party over demands that Britain adopts a “Norway model” and is tied to EU rules. Around 70 Labour hard line MPs are expected to back the so called Norway option on Wednesday with Britain entering the European Economic Area, which is forced to take on rules from Brussels. The hapless Labour leader has so far refused to back the option but appeared powerless to prevent another massive rebellion by Remainers on his benches who want to ignore the will of the British people.
MPs have won a concession from the government over the future of the Northern Irish border, ensuring there will be no physical “checks and controls” after Brexit. In a dramatic day of votes on Theresa May’s flagship Brexit bill, a bid to give teeth to the prime minister’s promise of “no physical infrastructure” on the border was waved through successfully without a vote. The Northern Ireland border has proved to be a major stumbling block in Brexit talks, amid warnings that checkpoints and cameras could lead to a return to violence. The prime minister has previously said she could never allow a hard border on the island of Ireland.
AN IRISH party leader has admitted a hard border on the island is possible – despite taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar saying this week it could “never, ever” happen. Brendan Howlin, leader Ireland’s Labour Party, warned a “countdown to a hard border” was already underway and demanded Mr Varadkar do more to avoid it. Mr Howlin said more needed to be done by the Irish Government to prevent a hard border between between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The 300-mile long invisible partition, which has more border crossings than across the rest of the EU combined, will become the only land barrier between the EU and the UK after Brexit.
Britain could keep frictionless trade with the European Union after Brexit through a combination of both membership of the European Economic Area and a customs union with the EU, Brussels’ chief negotiator has said. Michel Barnier said on Tuesday in a meeting with MEPs at the European Parliament that the European Economic Area (EEA) with a customs union was a possible model for a future relationship, and that the two were not incompatible. Mr Barnier’s intimation comes as MPs in Westminster get set to vote on an amendment on Wednesday whether to stay in the EEA, or “Norway option”, after Brexit – but with rebels from both Labour and the Conservatives backing the change in Brexit course.
Germany’s “fat” current account has been attacked by one of the world’s most influential economic bodies, and described as a trigger for the emergent trade war. The country has the world’s largest current account surplus of $287bn (£214bn), 8pc of its GDP, and half that of China’s, according to the Institute for Economic Research. This is one of the most important measures in trade relations – because it shows that Germany sells far more than it buys from other countries. The head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has now weighed into the trade debate telling reporters in Berlin that Germany was partly to blame for the rise in protectionism.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought Tuesday to defuse a standoff with her interior minister over his calls to turn back some migrants at the border, while insisting that Berlin shouldn’t take unilateral action. Horst Seehofer became interior minister in March, promising a “master plan” on migration issues. That was supposed to be presented Tuesday, but Seehofer canceled it on Monday in a spat that revived tensions dating back to the influx of more than a million migrants in 2015-2016.
The war on drug-resistant infections is being undermined by blatant and illegal use of antibiotics to supercharge the growth of livestock in many EU countries, the head of a government review has said. Lord O’Neill of Gatley, a former Treasury minister, also recommended that pharmaceutical companies should face a sales tax if they failed to live up to their promises to spend more money on developing new antibiotics. Some strains of bacteria such as E. coli have acquired defences against nearly all the weapons that modern medicine can throw at them, threatening hospitals with the prospect of untreatable infections.
NHS chiefs will tell hospitals that they must act now to cut extended hospital stays before next winter, setting a target for a 25 per cent reduction in stays of longer than three weeks. The drive will be announced today at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, and Ian Dalton, the chief executive of the watchdog NHS Improvement. Such a cut in long-staying patients would free 4,000 hospital beds for the winter surge, they said, as well as benefiting patients. Older people tend to deteriorate when in hospital, with a stay of more than ten days associated with ten years’ worth of muscle-ageing.
Thousands of patients will be discharged from hospital more quickly under an NHS drive to free up beds. Up to 18,000 hospital beds are currently occupied by ‘long stay’ patients – those who have been there for at least three weeks. Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS, has promised to reduce this number by a quarter by November to free up at least 4,000 beds. There are a little over 130,000 beds on the NHS in England, meaning nearly one in eight are occupied by long stay patients. The plans have been drawn up jointly by NHS England, which is responsible for the NHS’s day-to-day running, and watchdog NHS Improvement.
People aged 45-55 with raised blood pressure that is not classed as “high” still run a significantly greater risk of developing dementia, a study shows. Research involving 10,000 civil servants found that those whose high blood pressure was mild had a 45 per cent greater chance of the condition than those with a lower measurement. It will add weight to calls for health chiefs to lower the level at which high blood pressure is diagnosed, which at present is 140 mmHg. Last year the United States lowered this to 130 mmHg, the level at which the study detected a greater dementia risk.
Middle-aged adults who have only a slightly high blood pressure are 50 per cent more likely to develop dementia, research has found. Scientists from University College London believe that even a slightly raised blood pressure over a long period of time can damage the brain. An ideal blood pressure is a reading of anywhere between 90/60 and 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Patients are normally diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed treatment only if the top reading – the systolic pressure – is above 140 mmHg. But the UCL study showed that adults with a reading of 130 mmHg or more were 45 per cent more likely to develop dementia.
Computers can be taught to identify patients with undiagnosed dementia from GPs’ records, research has suggested. A study used artificial intelligence to scan the medical notes of 26,500 people in Devon aged over 65. By combining the routinely collected NHS data, including whether patients failed to turn up to hospital appointments or had high blood pressure, researchers found that they could correctly identify 84 per cent of patients with dementia and correctly rule it out in 87 per cent of those who did not have it. The algorithm is not yet accurate enough for clinical use but the researchers said that it showed promise.