Latest research shows the Prime Minister is facing a humiliating defeat on Tuesday by a colossal 228 vote margin. Just 206 MPs are set to vote with the government while an insurmountable 433 are ready to reject the divorce deal. Political analysts had previously suggested the Prime Minister was hoping for a narrow defeat which could spur the EU into renegotating after realising a deal could be close to crossing the finish line.
Article 50 extension: “may well be inevitable”
However the figures suggest May is on track for the biggest House of Commons defeat ever and the latest blow could see the PM accepting her deal is worthless and being left with no choice but to resign, call a general election or hold a second referendum.
The revelation came as Theresa May considers supporting Labour demands to safeguard workers’ rights using legislation that would enshrine EU standards as the Brexit Day clock ticks louder.
With just 78 days to go until the UK leaves the European Union, Mrs May is looking at introducing an amendment that would keep the bloc’s rules on pay and conditions, health and safety and environmental standards.
The move comes as the Prime Minister suffered a fifth Commons defeat in less than a month yesterday as Parliament continued to wrestle Mrs May’s deal out of her grasp.
Downing Street hopes the climb down will attract enough Labour MPs to get a Commons majority for the Withdrawal Agreement, which enters its second day of debate today before a vote on Tuesday.
John Mann, a Labour MP in favour of the workers’ rights amendment, suggested the plan could be enough to win over “significant” support for the Prime Minister.
Theresa May is on course for the biggest House of Commons defeat a government has EVER seen
Mr Mann said: “If we have a guarantee that works on workers’ rights and conditions, that’s significant.”
The comment came as backbench rebel Tory MPs plotted with Labour counterparts against their own government.
Remainer Sir Oliver Letwin opened negotiations with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer last night to ask if the Labour opposition would work with the government if an agreement could be reached on staying in the customs union and single market.
Keeping the UK closer to Europe after March 29 is Labour’s policy and Sir Keir admitted interest in the proposal but indicated he backed a second referendum.
He told The Times: “Obviously, at some stage, if we are to leave other than without a deal there has to be consensus in this House for something.”
Sir Keir said there was strong support in Labour for a People’s Vote and added it “may well be inevitable” that the Prime Minister would have to delay Brexit by pleading with the EU for an Article 50 extension.
It came as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is set to demand a general election as the only “democratic” way to “break the deadlock” in Parliament, during a speech later today.
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4.20pm update: Boris Johnson claims “some politicians” make certain decisions because they fear being blamed.
The former Foreign Secretary, who is speaking at the Dublin’s Pendulum Summit, attacked “some politicians”, despite not naming names.
He said: “The reason some politicians make certain decisions is because they fear being personally blamed and nowhere is that more apparent than in the current climate of Brexit.”
4.05pm update: Boris Johnson claims “nobody wants a hard border”
Mr Johnson, who is speaking at the Dublin’s Pendulum Summit, claimed nobody is going to create a hard border in Northern Ireland.
The former Foreign Minister said: “Nobody wants a hard border in Northern Ireland. Nobody’s going to accept it and nobody’s going to implement it.
“We should not abandon attempts to find a technological solutiuon to the Border without even trying.
“Our two countries should be bold together. I know together we can organise it in the interests of business”.
Mr Johnson also spoke about how close Ireland and the UK are, saying: “Together we – Britain and Ireland – have the greatest universities anywhere in this hemisphere, anywhere in the world.
“In fact, I’m proud to say I have exported my own daughter here to Trinity College.”
During his speech in Dublin, Mr Johnson added: “Without risk there can be no reward and it’s the willingness to take a gamble on a certain outcome, that is the very basis of achievement.”
Boris Johnson said nobody wants a hard border in Northern Ireland
3.52pm update: Boris Johnson speaks at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin
Around 3,000 people have descended on the Irish capital to hear Boris Johnson speak at the leading two-day business conference, the Pendulum Summit.
Mr Johnson took the stage with a joke, saying: “I asked the conservative whips if I could possibly come to Dublin for a day. They said my dear chap, stay as long as you like!”
He continued: “Who is the hero in Jaws? The mayor of course. Why?
“Because he did what he thought was right to keep his town open for business, to make sure that his constituents could still enjoy the open waters.”
Other guests speaking at the gathering include West Ham United vice chair and prominent business woman Karren Brady and former England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster.
Last year, the Pendulum Summit was headlined by business giant Sir Richard Branson.
Boris Johnson spoke at the Pendulum Summit in Dublin
3.40pm update: Japan’s Prime Minister arrived at No10
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has arrived at Downing Street for talks with Theresa May.
During his visit to London, Mr Abe is expected to discuss Brexit with Mrs May.
The two leaders had already met and discussed the UK-Japan future relationship during the G20 in Argentina in early December 2018.
Shinzo Abe has arrived to Downing Street
3.15pm update: Eurotunnel ATTACKS the Government
Eurotunnel, a company owned by Getlink which operates transports in the Channel, accused the Government of having a “distortionary and anti-competitive” behaviour over the award of contracts worth more than £100 million to provide additional cross-Channel capacity in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Getlink’s CEO Jacques Gounon told Transport Secretary Chris Grayling his decision to hand the additional work to three ferry companies raised “serious concerns”.
In an apparent indication that the company was considering legal action over the move, Mr Gounon said Getlink “reserve all our rights to challenge such a measure both in the UK and France”.
Mr Gounon wrote: “In any eventuality, Eurotunnel remains prepared to deliver additional capacity under equivalent contracts to those you have signed with the ferry operators.
“I would ask you please to confirm that you are open to replicating the same kind of contracts with us.”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The Government has invested heavily to ensure disruption at our ports is minimised in a no-deal scenario, while maximising flows through Eurotunnel and Dover continues to be our highest priority.
“The contracts agreed with ferry companies are entirely compliant with UK law and represent just one element of our sensible contingency work.”
Mr Grayling has been heavily criticised for awarding one of the contracts to a company with no ships which hopes to open a new route from Ramsgate to Ostend.
Chris Grayling was criticised by Eurotunnel
2.48pm update: Withdrawal Agreement ‘threatens national security’ warn former defence chiefs
Theresa May’s Brexit deal could plunge the UK into a national security crisis, it has been warned.
The Brexit divorce bill presents flaws which “will threaten the national security of the country in fundamental ways” according to a letter by two former defence chiefs.
Sky News reports it has seen the letter which was penned by former head of the Secret Intelligence Service Sir Richard Dearlove and the former chief of defence staff Lord Guthrie to Conservative Party members.
In it, the pair beg Tory MPs to vote against the Prime Minister’s “bad agreement” admitting they have been scared into taking the “unprecedented” step of writing the letter.
The pair slam the government as having a “worryingly poor understanding of the issues” surrounding defence and national security.
They go on to advocate a no-deal fully “sovereign Brexit on World Trade Organisation rules.”
READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn DEMANDS General Election as a ‘DEMOCRATIC’ solution to Brexit deadlock
Former security and defence chiefs Sir Dearlove (L) and Lord Guthrie (R) warned against the deal
2.23pm update: May heading for catastrophic defeat figures reveal
Theresa May is on course for a massive defeat of her Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday, it has been revealed.
Research by BBC Politics suggests the government is going to be defeated by a majority of 228 votes when MPs have their say on the deal.
Latests figures suggest just 206 MPs support the agreement while an insurmountable 433 will vote it down.
Analysts have previously hinted a defeat by 40 to 50 votes would have been a best case scenario for the Prime Minister who could have then been spurred on by the narrow margin to persuade the EU to renegotiate with a deal in touching distance.
But such a huge number spells disaster for the Prime Minister who could be left with no choice but to admit her deal is worthless and resign on the spot.
Blimey. PM will lose meaningful vote on Tuesday by a majority of 228, research by @BBCPolitics finds. Number of MPs opposing up by 19 since the delay last month. For: 206, Against: 433.
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) January 10, 2019
1.51pm update: Government must ‘wake up’ to save Britain’s car industry
The government needs to “wake up” and do more to help the UK car industry post-Brexit, Britain’s biggest trade union has warned in a scathing attack on the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy.
Unite boss Des Quinn said the government had “botched” Brexit and said the impending threat of no-deal is “damaging.”
Mr Quinn’s comments came after Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said it was cutting unto 5,000 jobs from its UK workforce while Ford estimated it could cut 50,000 jobs from across Europe and announced it is reviewing its UK operations because of the no-deal possibility.
Mr Quinn said: “Britain’s car workers have been caught in the crosshairs of the Government’s botched handling of Brexit, mounting economic uncertainty and ministers’ demonisation of diesel, which along with the threat of a no-deal Brexit, is damaging consumer confidence.
“Government ministers need to wake up and start doing more to support UK’s car workers and their colleagues in the supply chain if Jaguar Land Rover’s recent success is to continue.”
The comments were compounded by MPs representing constituencies JLR operates in who blamed the company’s “bad news” on Brexit.
In a joint statement, West Midlands MPs Dame Caroline Spelman (Conservative, Meriden) and Jack Dromey (Labour, Birmingham Erdington) said recent years for JLR had been difficult following after the Tata takeover bubble burst.
They said: “These difficulties have been compounded by the continuing uncertainty over Brexit.
“Unfortunately, as we get ever closer to March 29, it becomes clearer that if we crashed out of the EU without a deal, announcements like today’s would become widespread and would be devastating for British manufacturing.”
READ MORE: Jaguar Land Rover to cut 5,000 UK jobs as it faces ‘perfect storm’
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer is in talks with Tory rebel Sir Oliver Letwin
1.29pm update: Irish Foreign Minister denies interfering in Brexit
Ireland’s foreign minister has denied he is meddling in UK politics, despite making a series of Brexit interventions throughout the week.
Simon Coveney has angered Brexiteers over the last three days after insisting Brexit can be delayed and rejecting the government’s approach to include Northern Ireland directly if the backstop is required.
Mr Coveney made his first interference on Tuesday when he welcomed the German Foreign Minister to Dublin before appearing on BBC Radio Ulster this morning with further Brexit comments (see 10.02am update).
He insisted it was his role to prevent people misrepresenting Theresa May’s deal and explained he was a friend of the UK.
Mr Coveney said: “I am not trying to meddle, I’m trying to be a candid friend.
“There isn’t an anti-British or English bone in my body, but I believe I have an obligation in the context of the relationships between these two islands and on this island, north and south, to try to find a solution that can allow us all to live together in peace, that allows us to trade together and live normal lives as neighbours together.
“Some people are choosing, in my view, to misrepresent what that deal is about for the future, particularly for Northern Ireland, and I need to speak up on that – I wouldn’t be fulfilling my obligations if I didn’t.”
READ MORE: ‘EVERYONE LOSES’ Ireland issues Brexit warning and say exit CAN be delayed
1.08pm update: May meets Japan Prime Minister ahead of post-Brexit trade deal talks
Prime Minister Theresa May has welcomed Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to London.
Mr Abe and his representatives are in the UK to hold direct talks with the government over a post-Brexit trade deal.
Japan and the UK are optimistic a comprehensive trade deal can be reached swiftly after the UK leaves the EU.
They enjoyed a tour of Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby, with Japan set to host this year’s World Cup in the autumn.
READ MORE: BREXIT ROW: Japan PM to demand May acts over Brexit mess with Honda and Toyota warning
Shinzo Abe and Theresa tour Twickenham before post-Brexit trade talks later
12.54pm update: May’s deal honours referendum result says top Brexiteer Michael Gove
12.36pm update: Brexit Plan B debate would only be 90 minutes long
With MPs in the middle of five whole days of Withdrawal Agreement debate, the government has warned any Plan B option would only get an hour-and-a-half discussion in the Commons.
The Guardian reports Number 10’s interpretation of the controversial Grieve amendment means any Plan B debate would last at most 90 minutes.
The newspaper’s ssociate editor Dan Sabbagh tweeted: Downing St outlining it believes that if May’s deal is voted down, the Plan B debate outlined under Grieve will only be 90min long and there will be only one amendment. That won’t be popular…”
Downing St outlining it believes that if May’s deal is voted down, the Plan B debate outlined under Grieve will only be 90min long and there will be only one amendment. That won’t be popular…
— Dan Sabbagh (@dansabbagh) January 10, 2019
12.16pm update: Speaker John Bercow hits back at Brexiter fury
Speaker John Bercow has continued defending his decision to allow yesterday’s amendment after Brexiters accused him of abusing his impartiality.
Leader of the House and Leave campaigner Andrea Leadsom said MPs were told yesterday’s motion was “unamendable.”
Attack Mr Bercow, she said Mr Bercow’s role is to “uphold the rules that Parliament has made for itself, not to arbitrarily change those rules”.
However the Speaker hit back, saying: “There was nothing arbitrary about the conduct of the chair yesterday.
“This Speaker is well aware of how to go about the business of chairing the proceedings of the House because he’s been doing so for nine-and-a-half years.
“I hope colleagues will understand when I say that I require no lessons or lectures from others about how to discharge my obligations to Parliament and in support of the rights of backbench Parliamentarians.”
“I have been doing it, I’m continuing to do it and I will go on doing it, no matter how much abuse I get from whatever quarter. It’s water off a duck’s back as far as I am concerned.”
READ MORE: BREXIT BETRAYAL: John Bercow grants Remainers chance to cause MORE Brexit chaos
READ MORE: Commons Speaker John Bercow accused of flouting rules to thwart Brexit: Fury at ruling
Jeremy Corbyn has kept the door open for a second referendum after calling for a general election
11.26am update: Jeremy Corbyn admits Labour is considering a second referendum
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded Theresa May call a snap general election if she loses next week’s meaningful vote.
Mr Corbyn went on to say Labour is keeping all options open, suggesting he is prepared to back a public vote on Brexit in a second referendum.
Speaking during a visit to Wakefield in West Yorkshire, Mr Corbyn said: “We’re now two-and-a-half years on form the EU referendum and reaching the moment when the Commons will have its say on the Brexit deal.
“Many of the pressing problems across the country have been ignored or relegated to the back of the queue.
“Theresa May’s only success in bringing people together has been to unite both people who voted Leave and and those who voted Remain against her botched and damaging deal.
“Now she is facing defeat in the House of Commons.
“Theresa May’s deal is a bad deal for this country and Labour will vote against it.
“If the government can not pass its most important legislation then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity.
“I say this to Theresa May if you’re so confident in your deal, call an election and let the people decide.
“If not Labour will table a motion of no confidence at the moment we judge it to have the best chance of success.”
Mr Corbyn added he was prepared to consider backing a People’s Vote.
The Labour leader said if a general election can not be secured then “We will keep all options on the table including the option of campaigning for a public vote.”
11.07am update: Conservatives accuse Labour of muddled Brexit policy
After Labour MP Richard Burgon’s confused Brexit stance during several media inteviews this morning, the Conservatives have accused Labour of not making its Brexit policy clear to voters despite a call from Jeremy Corbyn for an immediate general election.
Mr Burgon attempted to back his party leader’s call for a national ballot but failed to explain how it could fit in before March 29 after saying Labour is not planning to delay Brexit by extending Article 50.
Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly has said Mr Burgon dodged 23 opportunities to make clear what Labour’s Article 50 approach is, when it would table a no-confidence vote in the Government, if Labour would back a second referendum and what its position on EU withdrawal would be in a general election.
Mr Cleverly added: “The sheer cynicism of calling for a general election without being able to answer the simplest questions about what Labour’s Brexit policy would be makes clear that Jeremy Corbyn’s only interest is playing politics at the expense of the national interest.
“Labour only want to frustrate Brexit and play politics with these negotiations for their own political gain.
“Only our Brexit deal delivers on the referendum result, taking back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the UK.”
10.34am update: Seven Brexit petitions to go before MPs ahead of meaningful vote
MPs will hold a mammoth debate over seven Brexit petitions the day before the meaningful vote.
The debates will take so long they have been moved to the House’s secondary venue as MPs continuing debating the Withdrawal Agreement in the Commons Chamber.
Three petitions demanding a no-deal Brexit, two begging for a second referendum and two more pleading for Article 50 to be revoked will be heard in Westminster Hall on January 14
More than 319,000 people have signed the larger no-deal Brexit petition, dwarfing the 128,000 People’s Vote plea and 108,000 who signed the no Brexit petition.
MPs will be able to call a government minister to answer their questions on the petitions but the debates do not have any power to change the law.
The Commons is set to give their verdict on Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal on Tuesday, January 15.
MPs will move to Westminster Hall as the Commons is too busy to hold the seven Brexit petitions
10.02am update: Dublin rejects May’s Stormont pledge
Ireland has rejected Theresa May’s proposal to grant the Northern Irish Assembly a say should the backstop need to be activated.
Yesterday the government offered Stormont a “strong role”, promising to consul Belfast before implementing the contentious insurance policy.
The idea was shut down by the Democratic Unionist Party’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds who called it a “meaningless and cosmetic” pledge.
Today, Ireland’s Foreign Minister has joined in, saying he could not understand how Storming could be allowed a veto.
Simon Coveney told BBC Radio Ulster: “Let’s not forget what we are talking about here is a Withdrawal Agreement which is an international agreement between the UK as a whole and the EU as a whole.
“It isn’t a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Britain.
Mr Coveney added: ”From that point of view, I don’t think a Northern Ireland executive can hold a veto over the implementation of an international treaty between the UK and the EU.”
Earlier this week, Mr Coveney said Brexit could be delayed as he welcomed his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, to Dublin.
READ MORE: ‘EVERYONE LOSES’ Ireland issues Brexit warning and say exit CAN be delayed
Irish FM Simon Coveney has rejected May’s Stormont idea days after saying Brexit could be delayed
9.34am update: Labour MP refuses to explain how Corbyn’s general election plan could fit in without delaying Brexit
A Labour MP has avoided confirming if the party would extend Article 50 but refused to explain how Jeremy Corbyn could fit his planned general election in before March 29.
Leeds East MP Richard Burgon was pressed on whether Labour would call for a Brexit delay but denied that was the party’s policy even though his leader wants an immediate general election to “break the deadlock” over the chaos in Parliament.
Mr Burgon told Sky News: “If Article 50 has to be extend because that’s the only way to avoid disastrous no-deal that the Conservatives are holding the country to ransom on then that would actually be the fault of the Conservatives who have had over two years to negotiate a decent deal and have failed miserably.
“We are not calling for Article 50 to be extended.
“In terms of what we would do to sort the mess out, Jeremy says the most democratic way is to hold a general election.
“We’ve got a government in office but not in power.”
9.06am update: Business Secretary calls on MPs to stop no-deal
Business Secretary Greg Clark has pleaded with MPs to work together to stop the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Mr Clark said it is clear the House of Commons has a majority in favour of securing a deal.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Clark said: “It is my strong view that we need to come together. We need to act to avoid a no deal because I don’t think there is anything remotely like a majority in Parliament that will tolerate this.”
He added he would support “indicative votes” on the Brexit options to find out which path is most likely to secure Parliament’s backing.
Mr Clark said: “I have said in public and in discussions that to establish what Parliament wants and what Parliament supports can be a useful step.
“You need to move from Parliament being just a scrutineer but to be active participants and that means discovering Parliament’s mind.
“In doing so I think what would very quickly be established, there is a substantial majority that absolutely does not want to see no deal.”
However the Business Secretary refused to rule out whether or not he would resign if the UK left without a deal.
Business Secretary Greg Clark has urged MPs to back the Brexit divorce deal
8.43am update: Tesco admits it is ‘hard’ to plan fresh food post-Brexit contingency measures
Tesco’s chief executive has admitted fears over the post-Brexit availability of fresh food as he outlined the firm’s contingency plan to stockpile goods.
Dave Lewis said Tesco is finding it “hard” to plan for short shelf life food because the UK imports half of the fresh food it consumes.
Giving his annual post-Christmas sales update, in which Tesco performed well this festive season, Mr Lewis said: “It’s hard to contingency for fresh food, where we can’t stockpile.”
He added: “Like other retailers, we’d be keen that there is no friction at the border given the UK imports half of the fresh food it eats.”
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis has warned about fresh food availability post-Brexit
8.22am update: Today’s Brexit schedule
It’s set to be another busy Brexit day as the fallout from yesterday’s Commons chaos continues.
Boris Johnson will speak in Dublin at 9am.
At 10am, senior Tory rebels will join a cross-party group of MPs at a central London People’s Vote rally in which they will urge colleagues to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday.
From 11am, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will demand a general election in a speech during a visit to Yorkshire.
The Brexit deal debate continues from 11.30am in the House of Commons
Theresa May welcomes Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Downing Street today as the pair continue post-Brexit trade deal talks with a press conference planned for 4.15pm.
Meanwhile Jaguar Land Rover is expected to announce plans to cut 5,000 jobs in the UK in a business update later today amid post-Brexit concerns over competitiveness.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will call for a general election later today
8.01am update: Jeremy Corbyn DEMANDS general election
Jeremy Corbyn will demand a general election, saying a vote is the only “practical” and “democratic” way to “break the deadlock” on Brexit, in a speech in Yorkshire later today.
The Labour leader will argue he could reopen negotiations and get a better deal than Theresa May’s doomed Withdrawal Agreement if he were Prime Minister.
In reiterating his position that Labour will vote down the Brexit divorce deal next week, Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “If the Government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity.
“A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all. So I say to Theresa May: If you are so confident in your deal, call that election, and let the people decide.
“To break the deadlock, an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option. It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in Parliament and across the country.
“For both sides, the EU referendum was about so much more than our relationship with our biggest trading partner and its rules. It was about what’s happened to our people over decades and how to build a better future.
“The need for a government with a clear purpose and direction for the country could not be more urgent. Labour stands ready to bring Leave and Remain voters together to rebuild Britain for the many, not the few.”
Additional reporting by Tom Nellist.