Brexit news: The DUP has accused Dublin of ‘policing a hard border’
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader condemned Dublin’s actions after the vessels were impounded by an Irish Navy patrol ship while in disputed waters. Speaking to DUP members and supporters in Mid Ulster on Friday evening, she said: “We do not want to see a so-called hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. “In the last few days though, we’ve seen the Republic of Ireland policing its own hard border.
“Let’s be clear, there is no need for checkpoints on the border, and there is no need for Irish warships impounding Northern Ireland fishing boats.”
The two fishermen were reunited with their boats on Friday after pleading guilty to breaching fishing regulations.
Mrs Foster also called on Theresa May to deliver on her pledge to secure legally-binding changes to the contentious Irish border backstop.
Her comments come after it was reported that the DUP’s position on the Prime Minister’s deal is “softening”.
Two sources said Tory Brexiteers have been told the Northern Irish party is considering a compromise so it can back a revised version of Mrs May’s exit terms, The Times reports.
Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s deputy leader, has repeatedly insisted that “no deal is better than a bad deal” but in private is now “looking for a ladder to climb down”.
The party is reportedly waiting until it sees the exact wording of any concessions secured by Mrs May before making a final decision.
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9.20pm: EU ‘ready to give further guarantees’ over Brexit backstop
The European Union is ready to give Britain more guarantees that the Irish backstop is only intended to be temporary, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator has said.
Michel Barnier said in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper to be published on Saturday: “We know that there are misgivings in Britain that the backstop could keep Britain forever connected to the EU.
“This is not the case. And we are ready to give further guarantees, assurances and clarifications that the backstop should only be temporary.”
9pm: Second referendum would be ‘absolute disaster’
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has warned a rerun of the Brexit referendum would cause more uncertainty for business and undermine faith in politicians.
She told the BBC: “I think it would be an absolute disaster if we had a second referendum after people voted so clearly to leave the European Union.
“There will be a massive crisis in this nation.
“And it would be terrible for business.
“It would leave us continuing in this limbo period.”
7.15pm: ‘Significant consequences’ to no-deal Brexit, IMF boss warns
Britain will be worse off after leaving the EU regardless of which type of Brexit is ultimately reached, IMF boss Christine Lagarde warned.
She told Portugal’s state council no deal could have “significant consequences” and represents the biggest short-term risk to the economy.
She added: “All likely Brexit outcomes will involve net costs for the UK economy. But the higher the impediments that arise in the new relationship with Europe, the higher the cost.”
Ms Lagarde EU members would be affected to “varying degrees”, with Ireland and the Netherlands particularly at risk.
6pm: ‘No deal UNLIKELY’, Varadkar says
Irish PM Leo Varadkar has played down the chances of Britain leaving the EU without a deal on March 29.
He said it was “unlikely” the UK would quit the bloc without having first agreed a deal or requested an extension to Article 50.
Asked if a Brexit deal is close, Mr Varadkar said he did not want to say much as “we are entering quite a sensitive period over the next week or two”.
He added: ”But I think that the United Kingdom crashing out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal is unlikely. I think we will have a deal or we’ll have an extension.”
IMF boss Christine Lagarde warned the UK will be worse off under all forms of Brexit
5.15pm: US outlines aims for post-Brexit trade deal
The US has welcomed the “new opportunity to expand and deepen” its trade relationship with the UK after Brexit as Washington releases its negotiating aims for a future trade deal.
But campaigners in Britain have warned big American companies could be allowed to “run riot” in the NHS and threaten food standards under the terms proposed by the US.
Donald Trump’s administration has published negotiating objectives for a deal which include demands for full market access for US drug firms and a block on state institutions – such as the NHS – discriminating against American companies when purchasing goods and services.
The Department for International Trade welcomed the paper, published by the office of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, as a sign that Washington is keen to start talks soon after Brexit.
Liam Fox’s department said the UK would insist on maintaining “high standards for businesses, workers and consumers” in any deal.
4.30pm: Brexit ‘wasting everyone’s time’
Rolls Royce Holdings CEO Warren East has condemned the amount of time Brexit has “wasted” over recent months.
“Brexit has wasted a huge amount of a lot of people’s time over the last several months. And it is not going to waste any more of our time,” he was quoted as saying.
Rolls-Royce employs 22,300 people in the UK making aerospace, marine and submarine engines.
In November, Mr East backed Theresa May’s deal after previously calling for “as little change as possible” from Brexit to minimise the impact on business.
4pm: New Independent Group BIGGER threat to Labour than Tories, poll suggests
The Independent Group (TIG) could become a major headache for Jeremy Corbyn’s party as a new survey showed nearly one third (32 percent) of those identifying as Labour supporters saying they could back the breakaway group.
TIG is made up of 11 pro-Remain MPs including Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory rebel Anna Soubry.
A new poll by Hanbury Strategy for the Politico website found that as many as a quarter of voters are ready to consider backing the new grouping.
Some 32 percent of Labour supporters said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to back a TIG candidate if one stood in their constituency, against 29 percent who said they would be “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to do so.
The poll surveyed 2,006 adults between February 22 and 25.
Harvey Gavin taking over on live reporting.
TIG could prove to be more of a threat to Labour than the Tories, a new poll suggests
2.51pm update: German legal opinion puts question mark over short Brexit delay
Britain could face an EU legal challenge if it seeks to delay Brexit because of the impact on EU legislative elections, a legal opinion produced for Germany’s Bundestag said, potentially making it difficult for Berlin to back anything but a short extension.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that if Britain needed more time to sort out its departure from the European Union, she would not refuse.
But a non-binding legal opinion, written by experts in the German lower house’s Europe department as an aid for lawmakers, may raise doubts about whether Berlin could back the longer delay which pro-EU campaigners would need to stage a referendum on halting Brexit.
The opinion read: “In all scenarios, legal provisions appear worth considering to protect the legitimacy of the European Parliament and its decisions from the political and legal risks that may be associated with an extended deadline.”
2.48pm update: “If legal team gives backstop thumbs-up, May’s deal will pass,” says insider
A Westminster insider has said Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement will pass if the eight-strong team of lawyers – including seven MPs – conclude any assurances Attorney General Geoffrey Cox brings back from Brussels are legally watertight.
The source – who is a member of the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg – predicted if the group gives it the green light, enough erstwhile rebels will be peeled off to get her deal over the line.
And while he conceded there were “difference of opinion” within the ERG, he said they did not amount to a rift.
He told Express.co.uk: “The ERG is not whipped – it is a caucus which comes together from a common Eurosceptic perspective.”
He conceded there was a “hardcore” of Tories who were unlikely to vote for Mrs May’s proposals no matter what – but suggested ultimately their number could shrink to 12, suggesting if she can attract a handful of Labour MPs, including Kate Hoey and Dennis Skinner, that could give her sufficient support to get her deal passed, stressing his belief that vote would happen on March 12.
1.21pm update: Post-Brexit trade deal with US could let American companies “run riot in NHS”, claim People’s Vote campaigners
A proposed post-Brexit trade deal with the US could allow big American companies to “run riot” in the NHS, campaigners have warned.
Donald Trump’s administration has published negotiating objectives for a deal which include demands for the UK to provide full market access for US drug firms and ensure that state institutions – such as the NHS – do not discriminate against American companies when purchasing goods and services.
The document also states the US will be seeking “comprehensive market access” for its agricultural products through the reduction or removal of tariffs and the elimination of “unwarranted barriers” to food and drink imports.
The Department for International Trade welcomed the document, published by the office of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, as a sign that Washington is keen to start talks soon after Brexit.
Liam Fox’s department said the UK would insist on maintaining “high standards for businesses, workers and consumers” in any deal.
But Labour MP Jo Stevens, a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, said the proposed deal – which also requires the removal of restrictions on transfers of personal data – would turn the NHS into “a playpen for huge US corporate interests”.
12.55pm update: Spain’s contingency pans “aim to protect Spanish and British citizens”, says Borrell
Spain’s contingency measures in case of a hard Brexit aim to guarantee that no Spanish or British citizens find themselves deprived of their rights, Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Friday.
Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier said Spain planned to grant residency to about 400,000 British citizens if Britain left the European Union without a deal.
12.35pm “Brexit mess means we don’t deserve it,” MPs say of 2.7 percent payrise
MPs have admitted they do not deserve a pay rise in light of their Brexit dithering – but they are getting one anyway.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) confirmed yesterday MPs would receive a 2.7 percent annual salary increase, almost double the inflation rate, taking their salaries from £77,379 to £79,468.
Conservative MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson told the Lancashire Telegraph the public would angered by the increase, especially given Parliament’s failure to agree a Brexit deal.
He said: “The public will be quite rightly outraged by this as it’s unjustified. When we were first given a pay rise I committed to giving away some of my salary to charity, particularly in Pendle and I will continue to do this.”
Labour MP for Hyndburn, Graham Jones, said: “IPSA should be abolished. We have not asked for a pay rise and I don’t agree with it and I don’t agree that IPSA should keep putting our pay up.”
12.20pm update: Spain set to offer residency to 400,000 Britains after hard Brexit
Spain plans to grant residency to about 400,000 British citizens in the event of a hard Brexit, newspaper El Pais reported today ahead of the publication of Madrid’s Brexit contingency plans.
The residency plan makes clear that measures agreed by Spain would be conditional on Britain offering reciprocal treatment for Spaniards living and working there, El Pais wrote.
12.15pm update: Banking watchdog urges EU27 to protect UK customers in event of no-deal Brexit
The EU banking watchdog has urged member states to offer deposit account protection for customers of branches of British banks in the rest of the European Union in case Britain crashes out of the bloc this month with no deal.
Bank deposits are protected by national deposit guarantee schemes so that if a lender went bust, sums up to €100,000 remain safe under EU law – but that does not extend to branches of a bank which would be outside the EU.
The European Banking Authority – itself having to move from London to Paris because of Brexit – said it was calling on the schemes in EU states to ensure that depositors in the branches of UK banks in the bloc are adequately protected in case of a no-deal departure by Britain on March 29.
12.12pm update: Theresa May “sees Brexit as damage limitation exercise”, says former advisor Timothy
Prime Minister Theresa May and other ministers have always regarded Brexit as a “damage limitation exercise”, former chief of staff Nick Timothy, has told the BBC.
Speaking to BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg for an upcoming BBC2 documentary Inside The Brexit Storm, Mr Timothy said: “I think one of the reasons we are where we are is that many ministers – and I would include Theresa in this – struggle to see any economic upside to Brexit.
“They see it as a damage limitation exercise.”
He added: “If you see it in that way then inevitably you’re not going to be prepared to take the steps that would enable you to fully realise the economic opportunities of leaving.”
11.55am update: Eurotunnel settlement “vital” to keep goods flowing in event of no-deal Brexit, says PM’s spokesman
Britain agreed to settle a claim with Eurotunnel over the government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit in order to ensure that vital goods would still be able to flow into the country, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said.
He said: “We took a decision to come to an out of court agreement to ensure that vital goods would not be put into jeopardy in a no-deal scenario.
“Our view was that a court case would have put at risk that extra vital freight capacity.
“Settling allows us to concentrate on the job at hand of continuing with our no deal contingency planning.”
11.45am update: Star chamber of lawyers “will rule on May deal”
A “star chamber” of Eurosceptic lawyers – seven of whom are sitting MPs – may decide the fate of Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement.
The development comes as arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg vehemently denied reports of a rift in the European Research Group of Tory MPs amid claims he had softened his demands.
The panel has been put together to examine any legal alternations to the agreement secured by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox during talks in Brussels.
The group includes veteran Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and Nigel Dodds, leader of the DUP, all of whom are legally trained. The only non-MP is Martin Howe QC, leader of the Lawyers for Britain group.
A European Reform Group (ERG) spokesman told the Telegraph: “The key is that Cox comes back with something that has the same legal status as the withdrawal agreement which puts a time limit on the backstop. That will probably be enough to get the withdrawal agreement over the line.
“But minds will be made up on the basis not only of Cox’s advice but that of Bill Cash and the other lawyers.
11.34am update: Global growth slows in midst of Brexit uncertainty
Factories across the globe slammed on the brakes last month as demand crashed, hit by the uncertainty in Europe ahead of Brexit coupled with the ongoing US-China trade war, slowing global growth.
A slew of surveys on Friday highlighted how much manufacturers are suffering, particularly those exposed to China’s slowdown, and adds weight to expectations that policy tightening from central banks is pretty much over.
Euro zone manufacturing activity went into reverse for the first time in over five years last month, British factories slashed jobs and braced for Brexit while China’s vast manufacturing industry contracted for a third straight month.
Japan’s factory gauge fell at the sharpest pace in two-and-a-half years as slumping orders prompted plants to cut production, while data from South Korea showed its exports plummeted.
Vigo and Kumba arrived at Isle of Wight zoo today
Two rescued circus lions have arrived in the UK after being rushed from Spain over Brexit fears
11.26am update: Rescued lions arrive in UK early over Brexit fears
A pair of rescued circus lions arrived in the UK today after they were rushed from Spain before Brexit over fears changes to customs would prevent them entering the country.
Worried bosses at Isle of Wight Zoo said there was ‘no way of knowing’ when lions Vigo and Kumba might arrive after Britain leaves the European Union.
After March 29, the day Brexit is due to leave the EU, port of entry and customs changes may complicate transporting big cats and cause lengthy delays.
Brexit delays would have also meant five-year-old brothers Vigo and Kumba would have been forced to spend longer at a temporary rescue centre in Alicante.
11.13am update: Backstop changes the “only way”, insists Tory MP Caulfield
Brexit MP Maria Caulfield has said the only thing which will persuade her to vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal is a change to the backstop.
Responding to a story by Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn suggesting Mrs May will earn a majority for her deal EU deal if she sets out a timetable to leave Number 10 this year, Lewes MP Ms Caulfield tweeted: “Sorry to disappoint but this is not about the PM, it is about the people.
“The ONLY thing that will change my mind is a change to the backstop.
“We have to deliver Brexit as promised or politics is finished in this country and I refuse to be part of that.”
Maria Caulfield responds to Mr Newton Dunn’s tweet
11.04am update: Bank of England figures reveal consumer borrowing downturn in January
Annual growth in consumers’ non-mortgage borrowing continued to slow in January, sitting at its weakest levels in more than four years, Bank of England figures show.
Consumer credit, which includes borrowing on personal loans, overdrafts and credit cards, increased by 6.5 percent annually in January – the lowest annual growth since a 6.4 percent increase in October 2014.
However, credit card lending did show a pick-up in January, following a weak December, the Bank’s Money and Credit report said.
Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club said: “While consumers have clearly been less affected by Brexit concerns than businesses, the overall impression remains that they have nevertheless become more careful in their borrowing amid concerns over the economic outlook.”
10.47am update: Government pays £33 million to settle Eurotunnel claim over ferry row
Britain has paid out £33 million ($ 43.7 million) to settle a claim with Eurotunnel which runs the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France after accusations of a “secretive” process to award ferry contracts to cope with a no-deal Brexit.
In a statement, the government said it had reached agreement with Eurotunnel, whose holding company is Getlink, to ensure the Channel Tunnel would continue to keep passengers and freight moving after Britain leaves the European Union on March 29.
British Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The agreement with Eurotunnel secures the government’s additional freight capacity, helping ensure that the NHS has essential medicines in the event of a no deal Brexit.
“While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”
One of the contracts was handed to Seaborne Freight, despite having no ships and having never run a ferry service. Mr Grayling faced calls to resign after the bungle, which led to the £13.8million contract being cancelled.
10.39am update: Britain’s economy will boom after Brexit, says economist
The British economy is poised to boom after Brexit, economist Liam Halligan has said, with the country attracting more overseas investment than the United States last year.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Halligan said: “It’s precisely because Britain will thrive after Brexit that we attracted record foreign direct investment last year, beating the US, with only China attracting more.
“Even British start-ups raised almost £8 billion in venture capital during 2018 – some 70 per cent more than their French and Germany counterparts.”
Mr Halligan acknowledged the ongoing uncertainty which has clouded the process has hit domestic investment, adding: “Leaving the EU under such circumstances is far from ideal.”
However, he said: “Yet once the storm clouds have passed and we’ve safely left, Britain will stand out as an even more attractive destination – not least compared to a eurozone made up of member states increasingly prone to economic incoherence and political extremes.
“Since 2016, our political leaders have been largely silent on the opportunities provided by Brexit. Buoyed by the world’s confidence in Britain, we must now show confidence in our decision to leave and in ourselves.”
10.22am update: US trade deal “a priority”, says Fox spokesman
A spokesman for Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade said: “Negotiating an ambitious free trade agreement with the US that maintains our high standards for businesses, workers and consumers is a priority.
“So we welcome the US Government publishing their objectives, which demonstrates their commitment to beginning talks as soon as possible.
“As part of our open and transparent approach to negotiations, we will publish our own negotiating objectives in due course.”
10.20am update: Deal demands “full market access” for UK pharmaceuticals
Also sensitive for London are demands for the inclusion of currency matters in any agreement.
The objective states that the US wants Britain to “avoid manipulating exchange rates in order to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage”.
The paper also demands “full market access” for US pharmaceuticals and medical devices and requires that state enterprises, like the NHS, do not discriminate against US companies when purchasing goods and services.
In a move which could restrict British room for manoeuvre in future trade talks with countries like China, Washington is demanding a mechanism allowing the US to “take appropriate action” if the UK negotiates a free trade agreement with a “non-market country”.
And it says a condition of a deal will be that the UK Government should “discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel”.
10.17am update: Trump administration sets out demands for post-Brexit UK trade deal
Donald Trump’s US administration has published its negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.
The 18-page document is likely to spark controversy, with demands for “comprehensive market access” for US agricultural products and the swift removal of “unwarranted barriers” blocking the export of American food and drink products.
US companies have long complained that European Union regulations limit American exports of food products like chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-boosted beef and genetically-modified crops.
Mr Trump’s commerce secretary Wilbur Ross warned in 2017 continued adherence to EU standards after Brexit could act as a “landmine” to UK hopes of a free trade deal with the States.
10.12am update: Wollaston ‘should face by-election’, says local Labour Party
Tory Remainer Sarah Wollaston is is facing calls for a by-election after she quitting the party to become an independent.
Sarah Wollaston, now a member of the recently-formed Independent Group of MPs, left the Conservatives earlier this month – but the Labour Party in the constituency claim that, in 2011, she supported a bill which said if an MP defected there should automatically be a by-election.
Lynn Alderson – the chair of the Labour Party in Totnes and South Devon – said Ms Wollaston “made her views clear”.
She said: “In 2011 she co-sponsored a bill that would have made it mandatory for anyone who changed party to face a by-election.
“We think that we should have a by-election. We think there’s a whole range of other policies here – it’s not just about Brexit.”
9.51am update: Pound buoyant as no-deal fears recede
The pound was little changed on Friday but is still headed for its biggest weekly gain in a month as worries receded that Britain will crash out of the European Union without a deal.
Sterling surged to multi-month highs this week after Prime Minister Theresa May said lawmakers would get to vote on a delay to Brexit if they choose not to approve her Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Traders backed off forecasts for a no-deal Brexit and began to expect a delay of the departure date beyond the current March 29 deadline.
But those expectations have in turn been tempered after some lawmakers signaled their opposition to May’s offer of a vote on a delay.
The pound edged 0.1 percent lower at $ 1.3255. For the week, it is up 1.5 percent. Against the euro, the pound was flat at 85.72 pence.
Women are stockpiling make-up prior to Brexit, the survey has suggested
9.27am update: Women stockpile make-up amid fears of post-Brexit price hike
Women are stockpiling MAKE-UP ahead of Brexit – fearing prices of their favourite mascaras, lipsticks and foundations will rocket, a study found today.
A poll of 2,000 British women commissioned by Swedish beauty firm Foreo found that 46 per cent were worried that European skin care brands would soar in price following the EU exit.
One-in-10 of those quizzed said they had already started buying make-up in bulk because of fears of price hikes after March 29.
For millennials, that rises to 26 per cent who have already stashed multiple purchases of their favourite make-up to last them at least a year.
A spokesman said: “Forget hoarding tinned foods and bottled water, a new study shows that British women are making sure that they’ve stockpiled plenty of their favourite beauty products as the clock ticks down towards Brexit.”
9.22am update: Crunch Brexit vote could happen next week, says Leadsom
Prime Minister Theresa May may ask MPs to vote again on her Brexit deal as soon as next week, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom has said.
A ‘meaningful vote’ on the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement must take place by March 12.
However, Mrs Leadsom told MPs it could happen sooner.
She said: “The meaningful vote will come back by March 12 at the latest, but if we can come back to the House before then we will do.”
Andrea Leadsom has said a key vote could happen as early as next week
9.14am update: Delay “reduces chances of a deal”
Any delay to Brexit would reduce the chance of securing a deal with the EU, claimed Mr Raab.
He said: ”The issue with delay is at this point in time it weakens our leverage – why would the EU make concessions now? The chances of a deal get that bit slimmer because they are less likely to compromise.
“I’m strongly against any delay, and I think from the EU’s point of view it signals to them that actually their intransigence pays off and that’s the wrong message for the UK to be sending to Brussels at this moment.”
But Mr Raab said he was “open minded” about a short delay of a couple of weeks to get the necessary legislation through.
He reiterated his call for substantial changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, though he said the “technical device” for making the changes to the backstop was “second order”.
8.47am update: “Subtance of May’s deal must change,” says Raab
Mr Raab said the substance of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the European Union needs to change, particularly on the issue of the backstop, though the means to achieve that is less important.
With just 28 days until Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, Mrs May is still seeking changes to her Brexit deal in order to win the backing of Parliament.
Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The reality is the substance, rather than the vehicle or the means or the label, is what matters and we need to see substantial, substantive, legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement.
“The most obvious specific change is the ability to exit the backstop.”
Dominic Raab has said the “substance” of Mrs May’s deal has to change
8.42am update: “As things stand” Raab will not back May’s deal
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said “as things stand” he would not vote for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal when it is put to a vote in the Commons.
Mr Raab – widely tipped as a future Conservative Party leader – also stressed the removing the controversial backstop issue in relation to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was critical in order for a deal to get through the Commons.
He said no deal was preferable to any delay in the process of leaving the bloc.
However, he said he would accept a short delay of a couple of weeks.
8.23am update: Labour ‘could back May’s deal in return for second referendum pledge’
Labour could stand aside and allow Theresa May’s Brexit deal pass in return for a public commitment to hold a People’s Vote, according to an amendment being proposed by two backbenchers.
The party’s leadership is in favour of the amendment drawn up by Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, The Guardian has reported.
In accordance with the proposals, the party’s MPs would agree to abstain in return for a guarantee to hold a second referendum.
Mr Kyle told the paper he was confident of attracting support from party leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as a number of Conservative MPs, adding: “I have every reason to believe that this will get the necessary support when the time comes.”
Labour’s Chuka Umunna denies he is TIG’s leader
8.09am update: Umunna confirmed as TIG “spokesman”
Former Labour frontbencher Chuka Umunna has been named as the spokesman for the Independent Group (TIG) of breakaway MPs.
In an indication the 11-strong group of former Labour and Tory MPs expects further defections, Sarah Wollaston has been given responsibility for “new colleagues”.
The group does not have a formal leader but Mr Umunna’s role as “group spokesperson” suggests he will play a crucial role for TIG as it seeks to build its profile.
TIG consists of Heidi Allen, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna and Sarah Wollaston.
7.30am update: Almost 10,000 Britons search online to ask “What is Brexit” every month, says research
A whopping 9,900 Britons are searching online to ask “What is Brexit” every single month, new research has indicated.
The study, undertaken by digital marketing company rebootonline.com, using data compiled by analysts, looked at the average number of monthly searches for a given keyword over a 12-month period.
The most popular search volumes for Brexit-related issues include “British passports after Brexit” (2,400), “Immigration rules after Brexit” (1,900) and “Free movement Brexit” (1,300.)
Shai Aharony, managing director of Reboot Online, said: “Analysing Brexit search terms was an extremely interesting exercise. One that brought to light what many already believe: British people are lost when it comes to Brexit.
“The sheer fact that 9,900 Britons search “What is Brexit” every single month is worrying enough, but, as many as 1,900 people a month are still weighing up the pros and cons.”
Additional reporting by Ciaran McGrath.