MPs have been given the option of extending Article 50 if they cannot agree on Mrs May’s altered Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday. They will be allowed to vote on whether to leave with no deal in a further Commons vote the following day. Should MPs decide not to proceed without a deal they will be given a say on extending the March 29 deadline. But the Prime Minister has been warned Brexiters are plotting to reject the Withdrawal Agreement if they cannot be satisfied the UK will not be tied indefinitely to the EU through the backstop.
The prominent Tory Brexiteer called for “lift-off” in exit negotiations so Britain can leave on Brexit day – March 29 – as he pressed the Prime Minister to prove that she is “committed to referendum result, for that it is the authoritative constitutional voice.
Writing in The Sun, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Eurosceptics must similarly be guided by the electorate — it is our duty and obligation to those who trusted that the vote in 2016 would be decisive and would be implemented.
“This makes it necessary to vote against the current deal as well as efforts to move the date beyond March 29.
“The people have spoken. The case ought to be concluded. Let’s have lift-off.”
Mr Rees-Mogg accused EU supporters of preferring the Brussels bloc to democracy itself, writing: “It is worth remembering that those who love the European Union prefer it to democracy and always have done”.
Meanwhile eurosceptic Nadine Dorries said no-deal was “what 17.4 million people voted for” while Steve Baker, Mr Rees-Mogg’s ERG deputy, labelled the backstop “the worst problem in this terrible Brexit deal”.
The DUP’s Sammy Wilson told a House of Commons committee it would be the fault of the EU’s “intransigence” if Britain leaves without a deal.
READ MORE: Is it too late for Geoffrey Cox to bag a deal?
Brexit latest: Theresa May’s deal has been branded ‘disastrous’
The top Leavers’ intervention comes after Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox held fresh talks in Brussels in a renewed effort to secure changes to the controversial Irish backstop.
Mr Cox and Mr Barclay were seeking to allay fears that the backstop could leave the UK trapped in a customs union with the EU, in a bid to win over Tory MPs ahead of further votes next week.
Mrs May is set to bring her deal back to the Commons for a vote by March 12.
If it is rejected, MPs will get the chance to either back a no-deal Brexit or call for the UK’s departure from the EU to be delayed beyond the current March 29 deadline.
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10.53pm update: Facebook ordered to reveal who took out £257,000 advert to wreck Theresa May’s Brexit plan
Facebook has been forced to reveal who ordered a £257,000 advertising campaigned aimed at derailing Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint.
The social network received the massive sum from a mystery organisation called Mainstream Network whose adverts urged voters to write to the MPs demanding they “chuck Chequers”.
Eleven million people saw the Mainstream Network adverts over the following 10 months.
A House of Commons committee launched a full investigation into Facebook’s involvement in the campaign and demanded they come clean about who paid for it.
Facebook vice president Richard Allan wrote to Damian Collins, chair of the Commons’ culture committee, saying the information was confidential but the social media giant had disclosed it to the information commissioner.
READ MORE: Facebook ordered to reveal who spent £257,000 on ‘chuck Chequers’ Brexit adverts
Facebook has been ordered to reveal who was behind a £257,000 ‘chuck Chequers’ advertising campaign
10.24pm update: Brexit quotes of today
Here’s a selection of what influential figures have said on Brexit today.
On no-deal Brexit Scotland’s first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “No rational government acting responsibly in the interests of those it serves would countenance leaving the European Union without a deal. It is unforgivably reckless.”
Trade Union Congress chief Frances O’Grady said this about worker’s rights after Brexit: “Working people need a cast-iron, legal guarantee that their rights will be safe after Brexit, and that guarantee should be written into the deal. But instead of a binding guarantee, all the Prime Minister has offered is yet more weasel words.”
Her words were echoed by Unison union general secretary Dave Prentis: “Brexit must not mean UK employees become the cheapest to hire and the easiest to fire.”
On the economy, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said: “There has been progress in preparedness and that reduces the level of the economic shock.
British Airways boss Willie Walsh slammed the government’s progress on the Brexit deal: “It is inevitable that Brexit will have a greater impact in the months ahead. It has been quite shocking to get so far in the political process without having any real clarity about the future. That can’t be positive for the economy.”
In Ireland, foreign minister and tánaiste Simon Coveney said: “The very clear message to Irish businesses and state agencies is to continue planning for no-deal preparations. We should not take our foot off the accelerator here, in terms of the state of preparedness that we need to be at by the end of this month” – Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
9.45pm update: EU migrants are more welcome in UK since Brexit vote
European Union migrants coming to live in Britain are more welcome despite Brexit, surprising new figures suggest.
In the months before the 2016 referendum 57 percent of British people felt EU migrants were a good thing, according to latest ONS statistics.
That figure jumped to 68 percent last year, the biggest increase in any of the bloc’s 28 member states.
The survey also showed Britons are now far less concerned about immigration than before the Brexit vote.
In 2016, 38 percent of people named immigration as one of their top concerns but that number dropped to just 17 percent in 2018.
Health and social security is now the nation’s number one issue (33 percent).
9.02pm update: Lords defeat government on soft Brexit amendment
Peers in the House of Lords have ordered Theresa May to pursue a softer Brexit after passing a Trade Bill amendment demanding a customs union with the EU.
The cross-party group of Lords defeated the government by 207 votes to 141.
Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, who proposed the amendment, said his victory offers MPs a lifeline to avoid no-deal Brexit.
The shadow international trade minister said: “The success of this cross-party Lords motion gives both the government and the House of Commons a chance to step back from the disaster of a No Deal, and to deliver an outcome which would satisfy the clear majority of people in the UK.
“Ministers must now drop their red lines on Brexit and embark on a fresh approach to the negotiations with the EU – based around a new customs union that protects jobs, secures opportunities for our industries, and removes the need for a hard border in Ireland.”
The bill will now be returned to the House of Commons before March 29.
Theresa May can propose rejecting the amendment but she would have to receive the support of a majority of MPs in yet another Commons vote.
Lord Stevenson has handed Theresa May another Brexit defeat
8.42pm update: Health secretary refuses to guarantee no-one dying from no-deal Brexit
Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to guarantee nobody dying as a result of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Hancock told Channel 4 News: “We don’t use the word ‘guarantee’ in the NHS because one of the jobs of the Health Secretary, the job of the whole NHS, is to deal with things that you don’t wish to happen and make them as good as possible.”
Asked whether he would vote for a no-deal Brexit if Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is rejected by MPs on Tuesday, Mr Hancock would not be drawn.
Instead the MP for West Suffolk said he would “back the Prime Minister’s deal to deliver on the referendum result.”
Mr Hancock argued the Brexit deal “is also in the best interests of the NHS” and urged all his colleagues to support the Prime Minister.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out no deaths resulting from no-deal
7.56pm update: Brexit security checks cause major Eurostar disruption
Eurostar services between London and Paris were severely disrupted today as French customs staff trialled Brexit tests.
Staff at Gare du Nord, the Eurostar’s terminus in the French capital, held extra security checks to highlight the pressure Brexit could place on the firm’s workforce.
Eurostar said services were experiencing delays of up to two hours leaving Paris.
Thousands of passengers queued up to pass through passport control as customs officials took longer questioning passengers and running bag checks.
Passenger Lucy Hagger tweeted: “Feeling like a pawn in the Brexit game as I am currently stuck at Gare du Nord while French staff prove how terrible Brexit will be.”
Eurostar services suffered severe disruption as staff made extra Brexit security checks
7.13pm update: Hungary’s government refuses to apologise over anti-EU campaign
Hungary has refused to apologise for vitriolic criticism of the European Union and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist party faces being expelled from the European Parliament’s largest group over the outrage.
Manfred Weber, the frontrunner to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission president later this year, has demanded an apology from Mr Orban’s Fidesz Party over an anti-EU campaign which has sparked fury in Brussels.
Mr Weber leads the European People’s Party (EPP) and has threatened to throw Fides’s 12 MEPs out of the his party over a series of posters that have accused Mr Juncker and Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros of plotting to destroy European civilisation by bringing in masses of Muslims.
A senior Hungarian government aide has said it is seeking a compromise to avoid being ejected from the EPP.
However government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Mr Orban would not back down despite Mr Weber’s ultimatum.
Mr Kovacs wrote on Twitter: “We listen to other opinions, including Weber’s.
“But more important than party discipline are the defence of European Christian values and stopping migration. On this, we cannot yield.”
Mr Weber said: “We have made several attempts at bridge building, but Hungary has not taken any steps or effort towards us.”
Viktor Orban has put up posters across Budapest criticising Jean-Claude Juncker and George Soros
6.42pm update: More on Corbyn’s soft Brexit meeting with Tory MPs
Jeremy Corbyn held talks with former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles, part of a cross-party group who support the so-called “Common Market 2.0” model of a close economic relationship.
The meeting was also attended by Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell, who back the Norway-style approach for the UK to remain in the single market and customs union.
Mr Boles said: “For months now we have been meeting with senior MPs from all parties in search of a cross-party Brexit compromise.”
Mr Kinnock said they had a “very detailed and constructive conversation”, adding: “There is a strong and growing cross-party consensus for a pragmatic, bridge-building Brexit.”
A Labour spokesman said the meeting was to “discuss how to achieve a deal that would be good for jobs and could bring Leave and Remain voters together”.
Stephen Kinnock and Sir Oliver Letwin were also in the soft Brexit meeting with Jeremy Corbyn
6.10pm update: Government refuses to reveal no-deal tariff details
The government has responded to demands it must outline what the status of no-deal tariffs on EU goods would be before Tuesday’s meaningful vote.
Furious MPs have pressed the government to reveal which tariffs would be cut if a deal cannot be agreed by March 29.
Ministers have said such information would only be released if a no-deal scenario becomes apparent.
A Government spokesman said: “If we leave the European Union without an agreement, our tariffs will need to strike a balance between protecting consumers and businesses from possible price rises and avoiding the exposure of sensitive industries to competition.
“We will communicate a decision on what is market sensitive information to stakeholders and the public as soon as possible.”
5.18pm update: MPs’ Easter break could be cancelled because of Brexit
MPs have been warned their Easter break may be cancelled because of the looming Brexit deadline.
Environment secretary Michael Gove revealed chief whip Julian Smith has told Tories the planned recess may be scrapped.
The Commons is due to rise for two weeks, from April 4 to 23, but a delay to Brexit could force MPs back to Parliament.
Mr Gove made the revelation as he was asked whether the Fisheries Bill would return to the Commons before the scheduled break.
He replied: “The Chief Whip has reminded Conservative MPs that there may not be an Easter recess.”
It comes after the February break was cancelled in order to allow the Commons to make progress on Brexit.
Time is running out for the Commons to approve all necessary legislation ahead of Brexit on March 29.
Several ministers have mooted that a delay may be needed even if the Withdrawal Agreement is backed in next Tuesday’s meaningful vote in order to pass the key bills.
4.27pm update: Huge spike in Brits obtaining EU citizenship ‘reflects Brexit worries’
Official figures show there has been a massive spike in the number of Brits applying to become citizens of other EU countries since the Brexit referendum.
In 2016, when Britain voted to leave the EU, 6,555 British people became citizens of one of the bloc’s 27 other member states.
That number more than doubled in the following 12 months when 14,911 people acquired citizenship of a different EU country.
The figure marks a rise of 127 percent.
Germany granted citizenship to the largest numbers of UK nationals in 2017, with 6,851, followed by France (1,733), Belgium (1,381) and the Netherlands (1,248).
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, said the rise “clearly reflects Brexit worries”.
Mr Portes added: “What we don’t know is how many of these are people already living elsewhere in the EU who are worried about their rights to live, work and retire; and how many are ordinary British residents trying to keep their ‘free movement’ rights for the future.”
According to the statistics, the UK granted citizenship to around 123,000 individuals in 2017, a fall of 18% compared with the previous year.
3.43pm update: Corbyn considering backing Tory Norway plot hoping to ‘bring Leavers and Remainers together’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is considering a Norway style Brexit after meeting Conservative MPs hoping to secure a similar trading relationship with the EU after Brexit.
A Labour spokesman said Mr Corbyn would be seeing former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles as part of a group of Labour and Tory MPs who support the so-called “Common Market 2.0” model of a close economic relationship.
The meeting hopes to “discuss how to achieve a deal that would be good for jobs and could bring Leave and Remain voters together”.
Earlier today, Mr Corbyn met leaders of the UK’s main business organisations – the CBI, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce and Make UK – to discuss Labour’s soft Brexit plan based on a customs union with the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn will meet Tory MPs hoping for a cross-party agreement on a Norway style Brexit
2.47pm update: Clark defends plans to a vote on whether new EU workplace rules should become UK law.
Business Secretary Greg Clark told the Commons it was not right for them to automatically move onto the UK statute book after Brexit, and that MPs should be able to scrutinise them first.
In a statement Mr Clark outlined the mechanism, which will see Parliament given the opportunity “at least every six months to consider any changers to EU workers’ rights and health and safety standards in the workplace”.
2.17pm update: ‘EU offering us sweet F*** ALL’ – Daniel Hannan
The Brexiteer claimed delaying Brexit with a 21 months extension of Article 50 would allow the UK to leave next year on “better terms” than Theresa May’s deal and avoid paying the EU the promised £39billion in exchange for a transition period
Speaking to TalkRADIO, the Conservative MEP argued Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to replace the transition period with an extension of Article 50 and a Brexit delay was a valid way to guarantee the UK would leave on the best terms.
He said: “The whole idea of this withdrawal agreement and of making these concessions was that they were in exchange for a deep and comprehensive trade agreement.
“But we’ve now gone so bogged down in the details of the talks and so determined to come back with anything that could be called a breakthrough that we lost sight of the fact that the trade deal that was supposed to be the quid pro quo isn’t being offered.”
Brexit latest: Theresa May is under pressure to get her Brexit deal through
1.46pm update: Brexiteer MP urges EU to scrap unreasonable Brexit demands
MP John Baron has warned the European Union against its “unreasonable” Irish backstop demands as he called on the Brussels bloc to work with Britain for a deal in time for the March 29 deadline.
The former Tory frontbencher told Eurocrats the “ball is in the European Union’s court” and insisted it is time Brussels proposes a solution to the backstop issue.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Baron said: “The bottom line is we have clearly expressed what we find difficult with the withdrawal agreement. We want constructive relations going forward with the EU, our largest trading partner.
1.24pm update: May describes talks with Barnier as ‘difficult’
Downing Street said Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s meeting on Tuesday with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was “difficult”.
Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “My understanding is that the talks were difficult and there was a robust exchange of views. However, talks are ongoing.
“The EU continues to say that it wants this to be resolved and that it wants the UK to leave with a deal. Parliament has been clear that for this to happen, we require legally-binding changes which mean that the UK can’t be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.
“That is what we will continue to pursue.”
1.16pm update: May speaks out after Brexit talks
The prime minister’s spokesman said the government is committed to holding a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal by Tuesday
12.47pm update: Latest Brexit talks FAIL to reach breakthrough
The European Commission said the talks aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock over the Northern Ireland backstop have failed to achieve a breakthrough,The commission said there was still “no solution” to the impasse after the meeting on Tuesday in Brussels between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay.
The meeting took place as Theresa May prepared for next week’s crunch “meaningful vote” in the Commons on her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
The Prime Minister has said she wants legally binding changes to the backstop – intended to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland – to ensure the UK is not tied to EU rules indefinitely, in order to convince MPs to back her deal.
However, Mr Barnier told the weekly meeting of the College of Commissioners in Brussels that the negotiations were proving “difficult” and a way forward had not been found.
12.04am update: Northern Ireland accused of ‘scare tactics’
DUP MP Sammy Wilson has accused Northern Ireland’s top civil servant of having a political motive for warning against no-deal.
During Westminster’s Northern Ireland Affairs committee, Lady Sylvia Hermon quoted the head of the Northern Ireland civil service David Sterling who warned of grave, profound and long-lasting consequences of no-deal on Northern Ireland in a letter on Tuesday.
Inability to prepare, EU tariffs and significant changes to exports could cause business distress, failure or the relocation of some companies to the Republic, a report from Mr Sterling said.
Mr Wilson replied: “I have no doubt this was written for a political motive.”
When the letter arose in conversation again, Mr Wilson said the letter “was a scare tactic”.
Brexit Day is on March 29 when Britain hopes to leave the EU
11.18am update: Britons desert European holidays after Brexit
New statistics released today showed more than half of people surveyed would shun a mini break in EU member states, with many citing the negative impact of the UK’s separation from the EU as a factor.
In a survey of 2,000 Britons by comparison site Finder.com, published on its website, more than half – a total of 56 per cent – told how they would ditch short haul city breaks to Europe amid the uncertainty.
10.39am update: Cabinet could back no-deal Brexit
Brexit Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said the Cabinet could “potentially” back a no-deal Brexit if Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is voted down by MPs next week.
Dr Fox told the Commons International Trade Committee that no-deal was “hugely sub-optimal, compared to getting a deal” and all MPs should back Mrs May’s agreement in the vote due by March 12.
He said: “For the sake of continuity, particularly in trade, the best outcome is a deal with the EU and a Withdrawal Agreement.”
But he dismissed suggestions that no-deal Brexit would deal an “existential” blow to the UK economy as “hyperbole”.
He asked: “Would it be a problem, a specific problem for some industries? Yes, it could be.
“That’s why I think all MPs should vote for a deal and that MPs who say ‘These are the terrible consequences of no-deal’ but consistently vote against a deal need to understand what they may be ushering in.”
Brexit latest: EU bosses and May described the talks as difficult
10.24am update: Northern Ireland warned of civil unrest in no-deal Brexit
The head of the civil service said a no-deal Brexit could cause a sharp rise in unemployment in Northern Ireland.
Inability to prepare, EU tariffs and significant changes to exports could cause business distress, failure or the relocation of some companies to the Republic, a report from David Sterling said.
The UK will leave the EU without a deal later this month unless MPs support the Prime Minister’s deal or Britain secures an extension from the EU.
Mr Sterling said: “The consequences of material business failure as a result of a ‘no-deal’ exit, combined with changes to everyday life and potential border frictions could well have a profound and long-lasting impact on society.
“The planning assumptions include the possibility that, in some scenarios, a no-deal exit could result in additional challenges for the police if the approach appeared to be unfair or unreasonable for some of those most affected.”
10.11am update: No deal Brexit could spark RECESSION – think tank
Britain could be tipped into a recession that could spill out across the global economy under a severely disruptive no-deal Brexit, a major international organisation has warned.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said a no-deal withdrawal would knock around 2% off UK growth over the next two years, but cautioned the effects would be “stronger still” in a disorderly exit from the EU.
It would likely spark a UK recession – two or more quarters of negative growth in a row – which could cause a “major adverse shock” in the EU and beyond, it said.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Geoffrey Cox travelled to Brussels for talks with the EU
9.57am update: Momentum fined for ‘multiple breaches’ of electoral law
The left-wing activist group Momentum has been fined £16,700 for “multiple breaches” of electoral law, the Electoral Commission has said.
The commission said the fines related to an inaccurate spending return for the 2017 general election as well as failures to report donations.
It is the first time the group – which backs Jeremy Corbyn – has been investigated by the commission and the penalties include the highest fine to be levied on a non-party campaigner for not submitting a complete and accurate spending return.
9.06am update: Brexit no deal to see UK slash 90 PERCENT of trade tariffs for global Britain to flourish
Britain’s trade tariffs will be reduced to a record level if there is a no-deal Brexit in a historic “trade liberalisation”.
The Department for International Trade will stop between 80 and 90 percent of all tariffs imposed on goods imported into the UK, according to Sky News.
Staunch Brexiteer MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said in response to the news: “Free trade will improve living standards for all.”
Whitehall sources said the sensitive items which will continue to be protected from overseas competition are cars, beef, lamb, dairy and some textiles.
Brexit latest: Theresa May leaves Downing Street
7.50am update: EU will hurt MORE than UK in Brexit no deal, Mark Carney warns
Bank of England chief Mark Carney has admitted the “economic shock” from a no-deal Brexit would be less than feared thanks to plans put in place by ministers.
The governor said there had been “progress in preparedness” that has reduced the economic damage forecast if Britain unshackles itself from the EU without a deal.
However, EU nations face higher borrowing costs and economic chaos as less has been done to prepare for no deal across the Channel, he said.
7.36am update: No-deal Brexit would be much better than May’s “disastrous” exit deal former MI6 boss
Sir Richard Dearlove said the Prime Minister’s deal would merely “prolong the agony” and unshackling from the bloc without a deal would offer “immediate opportunities”.
In a scathing letter from Sir Richard and 33 business leaders and academics, they said: “The Withdrawal Agreement is disastrous. It ties us to European Union rules without any say in drawing them up or any possibility of independent arbitration.
“New trade agreements would be restricted. We would continue to pay £10 billion a year. There would be no control over EU migration.
“There would be no tangible benefits to show from Brexit.”
The letter, seen by the Daily Telegraph, said the only way to “escape” the clutches of the EU was to meet their “demands”.
It read: “We can only escape if a replacement agreement meets EU demands. This is likely to be equivalent to the backstop itself, which is thus essentially mandatory and permanent.