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May resignation rumours: Brexiteer Tory rebels will now fall into line

May’s last stand? PM faces down MPs but does NOT deny resignation rumours as ‘most’ Brexiteer Tory rebels follow Rees-Mogg to back her deal… but it might not be enough because the DUP still refuse to budge even if she DOES go tonight

  • Theresa May will address her MPs at 5pm tonight and is under growing pressure to announce departure 
  • Tory leader used PMQs to hint third vote on deal is imminent and didn’t rule out leaving if it finally succeeds 
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg says Remainers will thwart referendum if deal doesn’t pass by the end of this week
  • He said that ‘all other potential outcomes’ set to be voted on in Parliament tonight are worse than this deal  
  • Chief Whip Julian Smith reportedly believes that this would convince as many as 20 Tory MPs to switch sides
  • Boris Johnson may fall into line. Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘There’s good chance the deal is going to get through’ 
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The Prime Minister faced the Commons today as she hinted that she could try for a third vote on her deal either tomorrow or on Friday and didn’t knock back claims she could soon announce her departure

A fiery Theresa May today faced down MPs in the Commons and hinted she could hold a third vote on her deal as early as tomorrow amid rumours she will enter a resignation pact with Tory rebels who would then cave in and back her Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister has been told to her face that for Brexiteers including Boris Johnson to support her deal she will need to promise Tory MPs she will quit before the second stage of EU talks begin later this year – and at PMQs she gave a spirited performance but refused to rule out stepping down when challenged. 

If her deal gets the support of a majority of MPs before the end of this week Britain will leave the EU on May 22, if it does not the country faces weeks of chaos as rebel Remainers try to force a soft Brexit in votes starting tonight.

And in a sign the deal could be voted on again tomorrow or Friday, Mrs May told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions today that they could deliver on Brexit ‘if this week this House supports the deal’ – Jeremy Corbyn then accused her of trying to ‘blackmail’ people into backing her deal. 

Today senior Brexiteer Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom did little to quell the rumours of Mrs May’s demise after her Brexit deal passes and said: ‘I am fully supporting the Prime Minister to get us out of the EU. What happens after that is a matter for the Prime Minister. I’m not going to express a view.’

And as more rebel Brexiteer Tories indicated this morning that they will climb down and back May, Leave campaign architect Dominic Cummings attacked ‘narcissist delusional’ ERG members stopping the PM getting the votes she needs.

In an extraordinary blogpost he said during the 2016 referendum campaign ‘so many of you guys were too busy shooting or skiing or chasing girls to do any actual work’. He added: ‘You should be treated like a metastasising tumour and excised’.

However the rebel climbdown could all come to nothing because the DUP, who May also needs to support her deal, show no signs of coming onboard.

Jacob Rees-Mogg today urged other hardline Eurosceptics to back Mrs May or face losing Brexit with 20 or more hardcore Brexiteers including Boris Johnson ready to swing behind her if she agrees to quit tonight.

Backbencher Robert Courts, a member of the ERG’s Star Chamber, is the latest to cave with sources claiming the trickle of U-turns could become ‘a flood’. 

He said: ‘I will reluctantly back the PM’s deal. The hard reality is that this deal, for all its faults, is now the only available route out of the EU and to deliver on our promises. With renewed focus the ultimate prize is still achievable in future relationship talks’.






Theresa May leaves No 10 for Parliament today as her own MPs call on her to quit to break the Brexit impasse after Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured today) urged hardline Eurosceptics to back her or face losing Brexit and Boris Johnson is also close to caving in and siding with the PM – if she agrees to go


Theresa May gave a forceful performance at PMQs today as she hinted that she will bring her vote again in the coming days

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      A KEY WEEK FOR BREXIT 

      WEDNESDAY MARCH 27: MPs HOLD INDICATIVE VOTES ROUND ONE:

      MPs are set to hold the ‘first round’ vote choosing their preferred Brexit from options including Norway, a Customs Union, May’s Deal and No Deal. They will most likely be able to choose more than one option at this stage, and will write their preferences on pink slips of paper rather than walking through lobbies in the traditional Commons voting method. The top options would then be put forward to another ’round two’ vote.

      COULD STILL HAPPEN THURSDAY MARCH 28: MAY HOLDS A THIRD MEANINGFUL VOTE ON HER BREXIT DEAL:

      May is likely to try and pass her Brexit deal a third time, after the EU offered a Brexit date of 22 May if she does so this week. The Prime Minister will use threats that MPs will take control and force a softer Brexit in an attempt to force Brexiteer rebels and the DUP to finally back her. She may also offer them a date when she will quit in return for their support. Thursday is the most likely day for her vote, but there is a chance she won’t hold it if she still does not believe she’ll win.

      FRIDAY MARCH 29: MPs TAKE CONTROL?

      If the PM loses a third vote on her deal, or does not hold one, by Friday the Brexit date is reset until April. MPs and Remainer Cabinet ministers will try and force her towards a softer Brexit. Brexiteer MPs and Cabinet minister will conversely try and push her towards a No Deal exit from the EU. Minister have also claimed that they could call an election if MPs try to force them into a soft Brexit.

      MONDAY APRIL 1: INDICATIVE VOTES ROUND TWO:

      MPs are expected to rank their preferences for Brexit. When one option is knocked out, MPs second preferences will be counted. For example if a second referendum is knocked out, its supporters can switch to backing a soft Brexit. Parliament would agree to support the final option.

      WEDNESDAY APRIL 3: MPs COULD FORCE MAY’S HAND:

      If Theresa May refuses to accept MPs preferred Brexit option, they could try to pass new legislation compelling her to do so. 

      Mr Rees-Mogg admits that his change of heart will prompt accusations of treachery from some of his followers but told them: ‘Half a loaf is better than no bread’. 

      Chief whip Julian Smith reportedly believes that Mrs May announcing her departure will lead to 20 or more rebels could be ready to switch sides while former minister Iain Duncan Smith is said to be hoping to broker the resignation deal and said last night: ‘There is a pretty good chance the deal is going to get through’.  

      Tonight MPs will try to grab the levers of power and push Britain towards a softer Brexit by voting on alternatives to Theresa May’s deal and today the rebellion’s architect Sir Oliver Letwin said the Commons will change the law to force the PM to implement their views.

      Former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell said today: ‘Oliver Letwin has played a blinder. My friends and colleagues in the ERG can see the instruments of torture laid out in front of them. Oliver has shown them what will happen if they don’t come on side. Finally Mrs May has most of us on side on her deal, and with a following wind she will get her deal this week or early next week’. 

      Mrs May will address a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee tonight and is expected to be asked to announce her departure date by disgruntled MPs. 

      But she is yet to convince the DUP to back her deal – and without their 10 MPs her deal has little-or-no chance of passing because of the 25-plus Labour rebels she would need to bail her out. 

      Asked how talks are going with the DUP, Mrs Leadom said: ‘We are working very hard’. 

      Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski tweeted: ‘Have urged some friends in DUP to abstain over Withdrawal Agreement if they cannot support it. That way we could still just about get it across finishing line. We must prevent Remainer Parliament from destroying #Brexit.’

      Mr Rees-Mogg’s intervention came as the number of Eurosceptics reluctantly backing Mrs May threatened to turn from a trickle into a flood.

      Writing in the Daily Mail, he says fellow Leavers have to face the ‘awkward reality’ that Remainers will thwart the 2016 referendum result unless the EU withdrawal agreement is passed.

      But he says the Prime Minister’s plan is now the only way to ensure Britain leaves the EU and wrote: ‘I apologise for changing my mind. By doing so I will be accused of infirmity of purpose by some and treachery by others. I have come to this view because the numbers in Parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse and an awkward reality needs to be faced.’ 


      What PM needs to edge to victory… by just 2 votes. There are 235 Tory loyalists, 10 switchers, 30 who with back the deal if May quits, 10 DUP supporters and 24 Labour


      These are the seven options for Brexit MPs could vote on this week if Mrs May is forced towards a softer Brexit




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        Who could replace Theresa May? 

        Here are the top runners and riders to replace the Prime Minister, their odds with Ladbrokes and how they voted in the 2016 referendum:

         Michael Gove 4/1


        Michael Gove’s odds have shortened in recent days

        • Leading Vote Leave figure in 2016 who now backs PM’s Brexit deal
        • Former journalist, 51,  who stood for leadership in 2016
        • Was sacked as education minister by Theresa May
        • Later returned as Environment Minister

         A Brexiteer with a machiavellian reputation after the 2016 leadership campaign in which he first supported Boris Johnson for the leadership and then stood against him, to their mutual disadvantage.

        The former education secretary –  sacked by Mrs May –  was rehabilitated to become a right-on environment secretary – complete with reusable coffee cups and a strong line on food standards after Brexit.

        Despite being a former lead figure in the Vote Leave campaign alongside Mr Johnson the former journalist and MP for Surrey Heath has swung behind Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

        At the weekend he denied being involved in a coup seeking to make him a caretaker PM. 

        Seen as one of the Cabinet’s strongest political thinkers and having stood once it is unthinkable that he would not stand again.

        Boris Johnson 4/1


        Boris Johnson is very popular with the Tory grassroots

        • Former foreign secretary and mayor of London
        • Voted leave and has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer 
        • As likely to make headlines over his private life
        • Has recently lost a lot of weight and smartened up his appearance

        The former foreign secretary who quit last July and has been tacitly campaigning for the leadership ever since returning to the backbenches with a regular stream of attacks on Mrs may and her Brexit strategy.

        Never far from the limelight it is his private life that has seen him most in the news recently after splitting from his wife Marina and embarking on a relationship with a former Conservative communications staffer 20 years his junior.

        A hawkish Brexiteer hugely popular with the party faithful, in recently weeks he has further boosted his frontrunner credentials with what might be deemed a ‘prime ministerial’ makeover.

        He has lost weight and taming his unruly mop of blonde hair into something approaching the haircut of a serious senior statesman.

         Jeremy Hunt 8/1


        Jeremy Hunt backed Remain in 2016 but has undergone a conversion to the Brexit cause

        • The Foreign Secretary voted Remain 
        • But has become an increasingly vocal Brexiteer
        • Backs May’s deal
        • Has approached ministers about running as a unity candidate 

        The Foreign Secretary who has undergone a Damascene conversion to the Brexit cause in with a series of hardline warnings to the EU.

        The 52-year-old South West Surrey MP is the most senior Cabinet minister in contention.

        He has reportedly been selling himself to colleagues as a unity candidate who can bring together the fractious Tory factions into something approaching a cohesive party. 

        A long-serving health secretary, he replaced Mr Johnson as the UK’s top diplomat and has won some plaudits over issues like the imprisonment of British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.

        But critics point to tub-thumpingly comparing the EU to the USSR at the party conference last year – which was very badly received in Brussels – and a gaffe in which he referred to his Chinese wife  as ‘Japanese’ as a reception in China.  

        Dominic Raab 10/1


        The former Brexit Secretary is now a Theresa May critic

        • Shortlived Brexit secretary last year, replacing David Davis in the hot seat 
        • But walked in November over terms agreed by PM
        • Voted for Brexit in 2016

        Mr Raab, 45, is another Vote Leave member who became Brexit secretary after David Davis quit alongside Mr Johnson last July over the Chequers plan.

        But he lasted just a matter of months before he too jumped ship, saying he could not accept the terms of the deal done by the Prime Minister.

        Like Mr Johnson and Mr Davis he has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer, sharing a platform with the DUP’s Arlene Foster and suggesting we should not be afraid of a no-deal Brexit.

        The Esher and Walton MP’s decision to quit in November, boosted his popularity with party members but he lacks the wider popular appeal of Mr Johnson.

        And like Mr Johnson he might benefit from having quit the Cabinet at an earlier stage and dissociating himself with the dying days of the May administration.  

         Sajid Javid 12/1


        Sajid Javid has kept a relatively low profile throughout the Brexit chaos

        • The most senior cabinet contender
        • Voted Remain but wants to see Brexit delivered
        • Faced criticism as Home Secretary 
        • But has taken a hard line on Shamima Begum case  

        The Home Secretary, a Remainer who wants to see Brexit delivered, was the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet to replace Mrs May.

        After replacing Amber Rudd last year he consciously put clear ground between himself and the Prime Minister on issues like caps on skilled migrants after Brexit.

        But his credentials have taken a hit in recent weeks. He finds himself facing ongoing criticism of his handling of the knife crime crisis affecting UK cities, which sparked a cabinet row over funding for police.

        He also lost face over his handling of the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel in January, being seen to move slowly in realising the scale of the problem.

        But more recently the 49-year-old Bromsgove MP has made a serious of hardline decision designed to go down well with Tory voters.

        Most notably they have included moving to deprive London teenager turned Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 19, of her British citizenship.

        Seven Conservative MPs who voted against her plan earlier this month yesterday said they were changing their minds.

        And last night Boris Johnson gave the strongest hint yet that he could also fall into line, saying: ‘If we vote it down again there is an appreciable and growing sense we will not leave at all. That is the risk.’

        Former Tory leader and Eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith said last night there was now a good chance of Mrs May winning the ‘meaningful’ vote. 

        Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the Government hopes to be able to bring Theresa May’s Brexit deal back to the Commons this week.

        Mrs Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think that there is a real possibility that it does. We are completely determined to make sure that we can get enough support to bring it back.’

        She added: ‘The Prime Minister said she is working hard, as many colleagues are, to persuade colleagues to support it.’

        Mrs Leadsom refused to be drawn on whether the Prime Minister should commit to standing down once the Withdrawal Agreement is passed in order to win over wavering MPs.

        ‘I am fully supporting the Prime Minister to get us out of the European Union,’ she said.

        Asked if Mrs May should stand down after that, she said: ‘I think that is a matter for her. I am not expressing a view.’

        The shift in momentum came as Remainers – led by Tories Sir Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles and Labour’s Yvette Cooper – prepared to seize control of the Brexit process today in a bid to push through a soft departure.

        MPs tabled a blizzard of amendments for consideration in today’s ‘indicative votes’ in the Commons.  

        Options include revoking Article 50, which would effectively cancel Brexit, holding a second referendum and locking the UK into a single market and customs union.  The latter would require Britain to accept free movement, EU laws and payments to Brussels.

        Sir Oliver Letwin, the architect of the plan for the Commons to stage a series of indicative votes on the way forward on Brexit, tioday warned that if Theresa May tried to ignore the outcome, MPs could seek to force her to act.

        ‘If on Monday one or more propositions get a majority backing in the House of Commons, then we will have to work with the Government to implement them,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

        ‘The way I would hope it would happen under those circumstances is that we would have sensible, workmanlike discussions across the House of Commons and the Government would move forward in an orderly fashion.

        ‘If the Government didn’t agree to that, then those who I am working with across the parties will move to legislate to mandate the Government – if we can obtain majorities in the House of Commons and House of Lords for that – to carry that forward.’  

        Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell said Sir Oliver Letwin had played ‘an absolute blinder’ by making clear to Brexiteers the consequences of continuing to oppose the PM’s deal.

        He said: ‘Well, I think Sir Oliver Letwin has laid out for all my friends and colleagues in the ERG the instruments of torture, of what awaits them if they do not support Mrs May’s deal the next time it comes to a vote.

        ‘Everyone else is onside in the parliamentary party. Reluctantly, I admit, but nevertheless, onside.’

        The Conservative Party will split apart if hardline MPs believe they can back Theresa May’s Brexit deal now and unpick it later, Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve has said.

        Mr Grieve said the Tories could not survive the pressure of trying to re-order the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement once Britain had left the EU.

        The ex-Cabinet minister said the idea that the UK could renegotiate the deal after it quit the bloc extended beyond some members of the European Research Group (ERG) of Eurosceptic Tories.

        Mr Grieve said: ‘I am mindful that some of my colleagues, not all of them in the ERG, I can think of at least one Cabinet minister who has hinted that the solution to the problem is to see this deal through so that we leave the EU … and then try to pick it apart.

        ‘Do they really, seriously think that my party, who’s already under a lot of strain and stress, is going to survive such a process?

        ‘Of course it isn’t.

        ‘If genuinely they think that the solution is to sign-up, leave and then try to take the whole thing to pieces, I think we can guarantee, firstly, we are going to have a very long period of immense and sterile debate.

        ‘And certainly I think when it comes to that I can confidently predict my party would split.’

        Mr Grieve also said it was ‘odd’ that members of the ERG would support Mrs May’s deal on condition she gave a departure date for quitting Downing Street.

        Speaking at a People’s Vote campaign event calling for a new Brexit referendum, he said: ‘It seems to me a very odd thing to say that just because she would go, they would be prepared to support it.’

        During PMQs today, SNP MP Stewart Hosie asked the Prime Minister when she would resign.

        He said: ‘Brexit is already costing the UK around £1 billion a week in lost growth.

        ‘We know 80% plus of the UK public is unhappy with the way in which this has been handled – this is not the fault of Guy Verhofstadt, Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk, or any MP in this House voting according to their conscience.

        ‘That fault lies with the Prime Minister who is the architect of the withdrawal deal, so can she finally concede to the House she is liable, responsible, culpable for the chaos which is the Brexit debacle and when she will be resigning?’

        Mrs May insisted her deal ‘delivers on the result of the referendum’.

        Brexiteer Tory MP Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) said his constituents would never trust the Prime Minister again if the UK failed to leave the EU on Friday March 29, with or without a deal.

        ‘At the last minute she begs our EU masters for an extension to Article 50, delaying our departure,’ he said.

        ‘They are good people, but they are not stupid and they will never trust the Prime Minister again.’

        Mrs May said MPs could still guarantee delivering on Brexit ‘if this week he and others in this House support the deal’

        Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Mrs May: ‘This country is on hold while the Government is in complete paralysis.

        ‘The vital issues facing our country from the devastation of public services to homelessness to knife crime have been neglected.

        ‘The Prime Minister is failing to deliver Brexit because she can’t build a consensus, is unable to compromise and unable to reunite the country. Instead she is stoking further divisions, she’s unable to resolve the central issues facing Britain today and she is frankly unable to govern.

        ‘The Prime Minister faces a very clear choice, the one endorsed by the country and many of her own party – either listen and change course, or go. Which is it to be?’

        Mrs May defended the Government’s record on public spending before adding: ‘The biggest threat to our standing in the world, to our defence and to our economy is sitting on the Labour frontbench.’

         

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          Andrea Leadsom today refused to be drawn on whether the Prime Minister should commit to standing down once the Withdrawal Agreement is passed in order to win over wavering MPs as ministers including Michael Gove (right today) continue to fight for her deal




          Theresa May faces a series of votes on alternatives to the PM’s Brexit deal – and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay were called for No 10 talks this morning

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            Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said: ‘I really hope that today we will at least get to see the two or three really clear options where there is support in Parliament.

            ‘Then on Monday, we will have a crack of the whip and I think we can get something over the line.

            What will happen in the Commons today?  

            2pm: Debate on how to organise the indicative votes begins. It will be the first time ever MPs have control of the agenda.

            3pm: Votes to finalise the rules of indicative votes. This is set to say MPs will use a ballot paper to vote yes or no on a series of Brexit plans all at once. This can be amended to the rules could change.

            3.15pm: Debate on the plans will start proper. Ideas are thought likely to include a soft Brexit, hard Brexit and a No Deal on April 12. It is unclear whether the Government will put its own deal into the mix.

            7pm: The Commons will be suspended for 30 minutes so MPs can fill in and file their ballot papers.

            7.30pm: Voting closes. MPs are due to spend up to 90 minutes debating the change to the law on Brexit Day. It is a technical change as EU law has already postponed it from March 29.

            9pm: Speaker John Bercow will announce how MPs have voted on each Brexit plan. Anything which gets more than about 315 votes will have a rough majority in the Commons. It is possible the House could vote strongly in favour of nothing – or multiple contradictory plans.  

            ‘But if we can’t of course, Theresa May will come back and try her deal. It looks like she will try that tomorrow. Who knows whether that would work.

            ‘But we have to, under all circumstances, ensure that we don’t leave the EU without a deal.’

            Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is said to have told the PM that if Parliament does mandate her to pursue a new Brexit route next week if her deal falls then she will break the law if she ignores it.

            As No 10 weighed up whether to put the withdrawal agreement to a vote for a third and final time tomorrow:

            • Ministers claimed Mrs May could set out a timetable for her departure when she addresses Tory MPs tonight in a bid to persuade them to back her plans;
            • Attempts to win over the DUP were rocked when the party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson warned he would rather delay for a year than accept the withdrawal agreement;
            • Mrs May was warned that a string of pro-Remain ministers could quit today unless they are given a free vote on soft Brexit options;
            • Nick Boles said Remainers would force the Prime Minister to pursue a soft Brexit if she refused to downgrade her red lines;
            • Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs that Parliament might have to sit through the Easter break;
            • The Prime Minister was facing the threat of a rebellion by her own whips over the vote to formally delay Brexit beyond March 29.

            As chairman of the 80-strong ERG group of Tory MPs, Mr Rees-Mogg has led opposition to the Prime Minister’s strategy. He was also a leading figure in the bid to topple her last year, which resulted in a confidence vote that she won. 

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              His intervention came as the number of Eurosceptics reluctantly backing Mrs May threatened to turn from a trickle into a flood

              Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner has warned that Labour could have difficulty supporting a plan for a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal.

              Explained: How today’s key votes will work and the Brexit options that MPs could decide on 

              How tonight’s key votes will work…


              Theresa May has said she will not necessarily be bound by the results – particularly if they are ‘undeliverable’ by the EU

              • MPs have seized control on the parliamentary timetable so they can hold a series of votes this evening in a bid to work out what kind of Brexit has a chance of winning the support of the House of Commons.
              • At 2pm, normal proceedings in the House will stop and MPs will debate for an hour whether to go ahead with Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin’s plan to stage indicative votes.
              • If they do, Commons Speaker John Bercow will at 3pm announce which Brexit options will go on the ballot paper. MPs had until last night to submit their suggestions.
              • Whilst the debate is taking place, Theresa May is due to address a meeting of the 1922 committee, which is the group made up of all Tory MPs.
              • At 7pm, MPs will be given paper slips listing the various Brexit options. They will get half an hour to mark Aye or Now next to each one.
              • Whilst the votes are being counted, MPs will debate legislation changing the Brexit date from 29 March to 12 April, after Mrs may agreed an extension with EU leaders at a Brussels summit last week.
              • The Speaker will announce the results of the indicative votes at around 9pm in the Commons chamber, revealing whether any of them commanded a majority of support.
              • Mrs May has said she will not necessarily be bound by the results – particularly if they are ‘undeliverable’ by the EU.
              • However, MPs are planning to seize control of the parliamentary timetable again next Monday so they can repeat the process to refine the options or attempt to pass legislation to enforce them. 

              The Brexit options that MPs are poised to vote on tonight: 

              Revoke Article 50

              Put forward by SNP’s Joanna Cherry and backed by 33 MPs including Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, Labour’s Ben Bradshaw and all 11 members of The Independent Group. 

              It demands that if no deal has been agreed on the day before Brexit that MPs will get the chance to cancel the UK’s notice to Brussels it would leave the EU.

              Britain is allowed to unilaterally cancel Article 50 and stay a member on its current terms, according to a ruling of the European Court. It would bring an end to the existing negotiations – but would not legally rule them being restarted. 

              Second referendum

              Tabled by Labour ex-foreign secretary Margaret Beckett to build on proposals from Labour MPs Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson.

              It states that MPs will not sanction leaving the EU unless it has been put to the electorate for a ‘confirmatory vote’.

              A significant evolution of the plan is it would put any deal agreed by the Government to a public vote and not just Mrs May’s plan. 

              Customs union 

              Tabled by veteran Conservative Europhile Ken Clarke, backed by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, Helen Goodman and chair of the Commons Exiting the EU Committee Hilary Benn and Tory former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Sarah Newton. 

              There is a further customs union amendment tabled by Labour’s Gareth Snell and other Labour leavers. 

              It demands that ministers negotiate a new ‘permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union with the EU’ which would prevent the country being able to strike its own trade deals but make it easier for goods to move between the UK and Europe. 

              Labour’s plan

              Proposed by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

              It includes a comprehensive customs union but with a UK say on future trade deals and close alignment with the single market.

              The plan also demands matching new EU rights and protections; participation in EU agencies and funding programmes; and agreement on future security arrangements, including access to the European Arrest Warrant.

              No deal 

              Proposed by Eurosceptic Tory MP John Baron.

              Tabled a motion demanding ‘the UK will leave the EU on 12 April 2019’ without a deal. However, a No Deal Brexit has already been rejected twice by MPs.

              It would instruct the Government to abandon efforts to secure its deal and inform the EU it did not want a long extension to Article 50 either, in line with last week’s EU Council. Both sides would then have a fortnight to make final preparations.  

              Common Market 2.0   

              Tabled by Conservatives Nick Boles, Robert Halfon and Andrew Percy and Labour’s Stephen Kinnock, Lucy Powell and Diana Johnson.

              The motion proposes UK membership of the European Free Trade Association and European Economic Area.

              It allows continued participation in the single market and a ‘comprehensive customs arrangement’ with the EU after Brexit. It would be very similar to current membership.

              The idea is this would remain in place until the agreement of a wider trade deal which guarantees frictionless movement of goods and an open border in Ireland.

              Malthouse Compromise 

              This is a cross-party proposal calls for Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement to be implemented with the controversial ‘backstop’ for the Irish border replaced by alternative arrangements.

              Backed by Conservatives from both the Leave and Remain wings of the party, including Nicky Morgan, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Damian Green, Steve Baker and Sir Graham Brady, as well as the DUP’s Nigel Dodds and Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey.

              The proposals have already been rejected by the EU.

              Single Market 

              Tory former minister George Eustice – who quit as agriculture minister this month to fight for Brexit – proposes remaining within the EEA and rejoining EFTA, but remaining outside a customs union with the EU.

              The motion was also signed by Conservative MPs including former minister Nicky Morgan and head of the Brexit Delivery Group Simon Hart.

              The idea would keep the UK in the European Economic Area (EEA), but unlike the Common Market 2.0 plan would not involve a customs arrangement. It is similar to Norway’s deal. 

              MPs will consider the motion, tabled in the name of former foreign secretary Dame Margaret Beckett, requiring a public vote before ratification of any deal, in a series of indicative votes on Wednesday.

              However Mr Gardiner said that if Labour voted for it, it could suggest that they were a ‘Remain party’ – which was not the case.

              He said that under the terms of the motion, any referendum could be a choice between Theresa May’s deal or staying in the EU.

              ‘It would be saying we could accept what we have always said is a very bad deal. Therefore it looks as if the attempt to have a public vote on it is simply a way of trying to remain because nobody likes this deal,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

              ‘To put that up as the only alternative in a public vote and say we will let it go through looks as though you believe that at the end of it Remain would be the result.

              ‘It is not where our policy has been. Our policy is clearly that we would support a public vote to stop no-deal or to stop a bad deal, but not that we would allow a bad deal as long as the public had the opportunity to reject Brexit altogether.

              ‘That implies that you are a Remain party. The Labour Party is not a Remain party now. We have accepted the result of the referendum.’

              Today he cautions colleagues against believing that removing Mrs May would solve the Brexit crisis.

              ‘A number of Tory MPs think a new leader could swiftly renegotiate but that is almost certainly not true now that Parliament has taken control of the House of Commons timetable,’ he writes.

              ‘It would be even harder for a Eurosceptic to manage the current Commons than it is for Mrs May.’

              But hours later Labour undermined him and said MPs are to be whipped to support a motion tabled in the name of Dame Margaret Beckett, demanding a second referendum on any Brexit deal passed by this Parliament before its ratification.

              A party spokesman said: ‘In line with our policy, we’re supporting motions to keep options on the table to prevent a bad Tory deal or No Deal.’

              Mr Rees-Mogg, whose backing is subject to support from the DUP, says the agreement negotiated by the Prime Minister ‘is a bad one’ – and he would rather leave under No Deal, but this was effectively ruled out.

              Six other Eurosceptic Tories who have voted against Mrs May’s plan said yesterday they would now back it.

              They were former Tory vice-chairmen Rehman Chishti and Ben Bradley and MPs Michael Fabricant, Gordon Henderson, Eddie Hughes and Henry Smith. They join a trickle of Brexiteers who have changed their minds in recent days, including former Cabinet minister Esther McVey, James Gray and Daniel Kawczynski.

              Privately, ERG sources acknowledge the group is likely to split, with a hard core of ‘refuseniks’ unwilling to back any deal.

              This group includes former Cabinet ministers John Redwood and Owen Paterson, Mr Rees-Mogg’s deputy Steve Baker, and Tory grandee Sir Bill Cash. A senior government source last night confirmed that the PM wants to try another vote this week – possibly tomorrow or even Friday – but said she would do so only if she was confident of winning.

              ‘Realistically if we don’t get the deal through this week then we are looking at a long delay and participation in the European Parliament elections,’ the source said. ‘Things are moving, but the numbers are not there yet.’

              Hardline Brexiteers – including Sir Bill – yesterday accused Theresa May of exceeding her lawful powers by delaying Brexit beyond this Friday.

              They said there were ‘serious legal objections’ to the agreement made at last week’s EU summit to extend the UK’s membership.  

              Theresa May could be prepared to make clear that she will quit No10 within weeks if Tory MPs agree to back her Brexit deal, ministers believe.

              Senior Eurosceptic Conservatives are demanding that she names a date for her departure when she appears before the 1922 Committee of backbenchers at 5pm today.

              Last night one close ally of the PM told the Mail that they believed she could now agree to leave Downing Street ‘if it were in the national interest and she finally got this thing through’.

              However, the ally warned it would be her ‘last move’ and she would only agree to go if it was clear the deal would pass.

              Ten Brexiteers, including European Research Group chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg, have now said they could back the deal if it comes back to the Commons regardless of Mrs May’s intentions. 

              They fear that moves by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Hilary Benn – who have organised a series of indicative votes in the Commons today – will result in a much softer Brexit, a long delay to leaving the EU or no Brexit at all. 

              But a larger group are holding out until an announcement from the PM of a firm date when she will go.

              Behind the scenes, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith was yesterday said to be ‘actively encouraging’ Brexiteer MPs to back the deal on the basis of a discreet promise by Mrs May to go if it passes.

              He is thought to have proposed the idea at last weekend’s Chequers summit and told the PM he could deliver 90 per cent of the ERG’s hardline Leavers if she agreed to quit. Mrs May did not rule out the idea but responded sceptically: ‘I’m not sure you can get me the numbers.’

              Other senior Eurosceptics want the PM to go public with her promise tonight. It comes amid signs Mrs May could call a third Brexit vote as early as tomorrow if she believes she can get enough support for the Withdrawal Agreement.

              Tory Nigel Evans, executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, told the BBC last night: ‘The Prime Minister will be addressing the 1922 tomorrow at 5pm. I am encouraging her in that speech to give the timetable for her departure.

              ‘A number of Brexiteers are reluctant to support her deal because they think if it gets over the line, she will then say ‘Look what I’ve achieved – I’m staying’. A number of them want to make absolutely certain she’s nowhere near the negotiating table when we start talking about the future trade relationship with the EU.

              ‘If the Prime Minister announces a timetable of departure, I think that’s going to swing a lot of people behind her deal – we could get it over the line.’ 

              But Brexit Party MEP and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage told the European Parliament it was ‘inevitable’ that the UK was heading for a delay to its departure from the EU.

              ‘You should ask yourselves: ‘Do you really want that?” he told MEPs. ‘Do you really want Brexit to utterly dominate the next couple of years of your business to the exclusion of your many other ambitions?

              ‘Do you really want the UK to contest the European elections, to send back a very large number of Leave MEPs, just at a time when you are fighting populism – as you see it – across the continent?’

              And, to cries of ‘No’ from some MEPs and ‘Yes’ from others, he asked: ‘Do you really want me back in this place?’

              EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier replied: ‘Mr Farage, no-one in Brussels is trying to steal Brexit from you, no-one is trying to undo the vote of the British people.

              ‘It is not Brussels that decided that the UK would leave the EU. You were the ones who made that choice and you are the ones who have to take your responsibility and face up to the consequences of that decision. No-one else.’


              Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Stephen Barclay leave Downing Street yesterday

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                  Dover Tory MP Charlie Elphicke told Kent Online: ‘If the deal does get endorsed, it should be on condition Theresa May agrees to stand down. 

                  What I am clear on is that if we are going to support it, there needs to be a change of negotiating team. I think we need to have a change of leadership and a new face and a new team to take us forward to the future relationship.’

                  Former education minister Tim Loughton said it was ‘inevitable’ Mrs May would go but she could leave with her ‘head held high’ if she got her deal through. 

                  Cabinet ministers were in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party in Whitehall last night in a last-ditch attempt to win its support – which is seen as necessary before Eurosceptics will fall in line. 

                  A total of 75 Tories – including half a dozen arch-Remainers – voted against the deal when it was defeated two weeks ago by a majority of 149.

                  At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting ministers, including Commons leader Andrea Leadsom and Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss, pledged their determination and ‘resolve to get this done’.

                  A source said: ‘They are pulling out all the stops to try and get colleagues over the line.’

                  But one Cabinet minister estimated the odds of Mrs May getting the deal through at just 30 per cent. Her allies downplayed expectations, saying ‘everything has to fall in place at once’ and it wouldn’t be clear until lunchtime today what would happen.

                  Even if she wins over the DUP and most of her backbenchers, Mrs May will still need Labour MPs to back the deal. A group of up to 25 hardline ERG members are seen as ‘irreconcilable’ – including Sir Bill Cash, Sir John Redwood and former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson.

                  Some of these argue that they can still secure a No Deal Brexit regardless of a bid by Sir Oliver to try to find a softer deal the Commons can agree to. 

                  Other Eurosceptic MPs said they were determined to oppose the deal. Dr Julian Lewis, chairman of the Defence Committee, told the Mail: ‘The choice revealing itself is one between a clean Brexit or tearing up the result of the referendum.

                  ‘It is vital that those of us who believe in Brexit neither ‘flag nor fail’ in Churchill’s immortal phrase, at this decisive stage.’

                  The Easter recess of parliament may be cancelled as MPs try to get a grip of Brexit, Mrs Leadsom said yesterday.

                  She stressed Britons would expect MPs to be ‘working flat-out’. She told the Commons: ‘I have announced the dates for Easter recess. But, as is always the case, recess dates are announced subject to the progress of business.

                  ‘We will need time in the House either to find a way forward or to pass the Withdrawal Agreement bill, and I think the country will rightly expect Parliament to be working flat-out in either scenario.’ The recess is due to run from April 4 to 23.

                  JACOB REES-MOGG: I apologise for changing my mind. But this is why I’m ready to back Mrs May

                  I apologise for changing my mind. Theresa May’s deal is a bad one, it does not deliver on the promises made in the Tory Party manifesto and its negotiation was a failure of statesmanship.

                  A £39 billion bill for nothing, a minimum of 21 months of vassalage, the continued involvement of the European Court and, worst of all, a backstop with no end date.

                  Yet, I am now willing to support it if the Democratic Unionist Party does, and by doing so will be accused of infirmity of purpose by some and treachery by others.

                  I have come to this view because the numbers in Parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse and an awkward reality needs to be faced.

                  Mrs May ought to have concluded a better agreement but behind the backs of two secretaries of state, David Davis and Dominic Raab, she did not.

                  The agreement on the table is as it is, and the proposal to replace the backstop with something else, particularly the Malthouse Compromise (a managed No Deal exit — if a deal cannot be agreed) has floundered.


                  Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he is ready to back Theresa May’s deal ‘because the numbers in Parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse’

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                    Delay

                    The EU, in the knowledge that it was dealing with a weak counterparty, has refused to reopen the text and the Government has not been willing to threaten No Deal in any effective way. The late start to No Deal planning and the reluctance to use it in negotiations has been a significant reason for the poor outcome.

                    Until last week, nonetheless, No Deal remained the default legal option but the Government and the Prime Minister have now ruled this out and with the support of Parliament can now do so.

                    No Deal is an outcome I would prefer to Mrs May’s deal. It would be a fully-leaded Brexit and mere motions in the Commons could not have stopped it.

                    Indeed, despite a clear majority of MPs opposing such a departure, it would have happened on Friday had Mrs May not used her executive authority as Prime Minister to postpone the day of Brexit.

                    Once No Deal had been ruled out, it was necessary to examine what would happen in the event of the current agreement not passing. This would lead to a long delay as there is no opportunity of renegotiating anything before the European elections at the end of May. Two years or more is proposed but considering the opposition to Brexit it could be revoked or put to a skewed second referendum.

                    A long delay would make remaining in the EU the most likely outcome.

                    If the moral authority of 17.4 million voters and a General Election in 2017 when both main parties committed to respecting the result could not deliver our departure in three years, how strong a mandate would it be after five? Even if the fear of remaining were exaggerated, it would inevitably lead to an even softer Brexit.

                    It is a sad fact that there is a gulf between Parliament and the people. Fifty-two per cent voted Leave but two-thirds of MPs want to remain. The Lords is even worse with a tiny minority of pro-Leave peers.

                    After giving people the right to decide, too many politicians felt that the voters gave the wrong answer and must be saved from themselves. Two years further from the referendum would allow for the demands to be watered down again, leaving the UK shackled by a Customs Union or as a Norway-style rule-taker.

                    If this were all, it could be sensible to take the risk and see if something better turned up. A number of Tory MPs think a new leader could swiftly renegotiate but that is almost certainly not true now that Parliament has taken control of the Brexit timetable.


                    No Deal is an outcome I would prefer to Mrs May’s deal. It would be a fully-leaded Brexit and mere motions in the Commons could not have stopped it.

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                      It would be even harder for a Eurosceptic to manage the current Commons than it is for Mrs May. Even if this could happen, politicians must look at the current constitutional clash and fear for our polity.

                      The constitution is under attack in three ways. The first is between the Government and the Commons.

                      This has been encouraged by the Speaker whose noble efforts to allow the Commons to hold the Government to account have gone too far and now seek to take the role of the Government to the legislature.

                      Recklessness

                      This is dangerous because the Commons’ job is to provide confidence in a Prime Minister who can take decisions for which she or he is accountable.

                      These decisions ought to be in accordance with manifesto commitments and if there is no confidence in the duly elected Prime Minister, then control ought to return to voters, not to a cabal of MPs who will have random majorities on various issues but no clear leader or mandate.

                      Separation of powers between Downing Street and the Commons is a crucial part of how we are ruled and a protection against arbitrary government.

                      Upsetting this balance is unwise to the point of recklessness and the Sir Oliver Letwin takeover proves the point.

                      Unfortunately, the second breakdown is just as serious. The Government only functions if ministers support a single position or resign, and this has been the reality since the 1830s. There can only be one Government position, otherwise how can it be held to account? How can electors know how power is being exercised if different ministers say the first thing that pops into their heads?

                      Recently, three Cabinet Ministers failed to back Government policy on the vote to leave the EU without a deal and in a rather jejune fashion ostentatiously abstained.

                      As they did not resign, this undermines one of the cornerstones of the constitution, making it harder for the Government to function.

                      Faltering

                      Any government must be able to get its business done. If it cannot, it is unable to govern. The principle of the separation of powers and of collective responsibility lie at the heart of this.


                      A number of Tory MPs think a new leader could swiftly renegotiate but that is almost certainly not true now that Parliament has taken control of the Brexit timetable

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                        The great Duke of Wellington was famous for insisting that the Queen’s Government must go on and that all responsible politicians have a duty towards such an end, even if it countermands their own piety.

                        The worst breakdown, though, is between the elected and the electors.

                        The condescension of politicians who feel that Leave voters were all stupid and ought never to have been allowed to decide something so complicated is tragic.

                        Ultimately, voters know best and must be trusted. Imperfect as it is, Mrs May’s deal gets closer to that than anything else available.

                        The Withdrawal Agreement has one great virtue. Legally, we would have left and to re-join would mean agreeing to adopt the Euro single currency, Schengen (the abolition of national borders) and no rebate. Such a course would be expensive and hugely unpopular.

                        The backstop, too, could tie us into rules that we did not like. But outside the EU, it would be a political not a legal matter.

                        International law is not as clear-cut as EU or domestic law and there is no court to rule between states and international bodies.

                        Ultimately, Brexit could be delivered upon but it would take longer.

                        It would need a Commons that wants to use our freedoms and that is willing to insist that the word ‘temporary’, as applied to the backstop, is genuine.

                        It needs political leadership and a desire to stop the weak-minded managing of decline and a belief in the UK.

                        Theresa May’s deal is a more faltering step than I want, or feel, could be taken —but at least it is a step forward. 

                        Source: Read Full Article