Theresa May is facing an uphill struggle as Parliament prepares to take a break for the Christmas period, with the Prime Minister facing a Meaningful Vote on her Withdrawal Agreement when ministers return from recess in Janaury. Mrs May recieved stark warnings about a second referendum on Thursday, as Breixteers within her Cabinet and outside critics claimed a No-Deal Brexit was “likely”. Meanwhile, official guidance on how businesses and citizens can prepare for a no-deal Brexit has been amended to reflect that the outcome is no longer seen as “unlikely” following the Commons showdown in the New Year.
With just 99 days until Britain is due to leave the EU, the minor change to advice issued by Government departments is likely to be seen as a major indication in a shift in Whitehall’s approach.
In a series of documents covering how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, the word “unlikely” has now been removed, Theresa May’s spokesman said.
The change comes a day after senior ministers agreed to ramp up no deal planning as Mrs May continues in her uphill battle to secure the support of MPs for her unpopular plan.
Theresa May has been defending her controversial Brexit divorce deal and is seeking further concessions from Brussels to appease disgruntled Brexiteers in Parliament.
Brexit news: Theresa May is facing unrest and revolt in the run up to Christmas
On Thursday, Mrs May was forced to defend her divisive deal as members of her inner circle touted alternative options for quitting the EU.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom touted the possibility of a “managed no-deal” to mitigate the negative impact of a hard Brexit.
Meanwhile, work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd suggested a second referendum could be a possibility if Mrs May fails to win the backing of MPs.
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12.45pm update: Michael Portillo blasts Brussels for holding GUN to May’s head
Brexit has been agreed on terms which are “explicitly” for the European Union’s benefit, where the UK had made a “mess of negotiations at every point”, believes former Tory MP Michael Portillo.
Michael Portillo warned the European Union is now able to “hold a gun” to the UK’s head, due to Britain “surrendering” over the Brexit deal.
The Brexiteer also claimed the withdrawal agreement is only for the EU’s benefit and defence, rather than that of the UK.
BBC’s This Week host Andrew Neil remarked: “Here we are, only three months away from it, and we still don’t really know the terms of which we are going to leave.
“The Government, from the Prime Minister down, finds it very hard to articulate these terms. Every time she begins a sentence with ‘well I’ve been clear’, you know you’re just going to be covered with smoke.”
Mr Portillo then commented: “Well I thought from two years ago, that the negotiations would go to the wire, and that was what’s going to happen.
“But I did not anticipate that it would be in a situation where we had pretty much surrendered. Where we had made mess of the negotiations at every conceivable point.
“Where the European Union is now able to hold a gun to our heads with its terms for what a no-deal Brexit would look like.”
Brexit news: Michael Portillo believes the UK has a gun to its head
12.30pm update: EU nurses coming to work in Britain dropped by nearly half following 2016 referendum
Reasearch by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) show the number of EU-bound nurses fell from 1,622 in 2015-16 to 939 in 2017-18
Over the same period, there was a 15 per cent increase in the number of EU nurses quitting the capital, up from 1,130 to 1,301.
The RCN said a “lack of clarity” from the Government about the right of EU workers was to blame for the severe drop in trained nurses from mainland Europe.
RCN London regional director Jude Diggins said: “These figures confirm what our members have been telling us — that the Government’s failure to immediately clarify their right to stay left them feeling anxious and concerned for their future.
“With the Government’s official announcement on the settled status scheme not coming until a whole two years after the referendum result, many have felt little choice but to vote with their feet — this was all completely avoidable.
“Without EU nursing staff, the health service would be unable to provide safe and effective care.
“As the country heads towards Brexit, the Government and NHS England must not only ensure that the health service remains open to nursing talent from across the world but that the failure to produce enough home-grown nurses is tackled head on.”
Brexit news: The NHS has seen a 42 percent decline in nurses from the EU working in UK
12.00pm update: Unite union warn UK faces “perfect storm” this winter as MPs energies “dominated” by Brexit.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said a diverse range of issues – including funding and staff shortages – were affecting the NHS, with problems likely to come to a head during the busy winter period.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The is facing a perfect storm this winter as ministers’ energies are subsumed by Brexit.
“The £20 billion a year injection of extra cash for the by 2023-24 announced by the Government in the summer is simply not going to be enough to cope with rising demand as the population increases.
“It works out at 3% a year when historically, since the was founded in 1948, the average has been 4% – the shortfall in funding is glaring.
“Every year the faces a difficult period during the winter, but this time we are facing a perfect storm as a diverse range of issues come home to roost.”
11.30am update: Britons told to “change diet” to prepeare for “no deal” food shortages
The Times reports how Whitehall Officials are planning to tell British citizens to change their diets in order to cope with a no deal Brexit.
Whitehall sources told the newspaper that sources of fresh food from mainland Europe would be cut off.
The government has begun detailed planning on food supplies if Britain leaves without a deal.
It identified a number of sites for massive hangars to stockpile food, including locations Scotland and on the south coast.
Items that could be affected include fruit from Spain or vegetables from the Netherlands.
They could be held up by delays at the border if the EU limits trade or tougher checks at borders are implemented.
Ian Wright, director-general of the Food and Drink Federation, said of the news: “This illustrates the really grisly nature of a no-deal outcome. Quite simply, the British people would not forgive anyone responsible for it coming to pass.”
Around 40 per cent of food produced in the UK is imported although this changes with seasons.
Brexit news: Officials could tell Britons to change their diets in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit
11.10am update: PM’s “weakness” and consequent “bad” Brexit withdrawal agreement makes “no-deal” outcome “a greater possibility”
Economist Shanker Singham, Director of the International Trade and Competition Unit of the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, also rejected the idea that anyone was “going for a no-deal”, stressing the important thing was to secure a free trade agreement which suited Britain.
At the same time the economist warned the EU failure to strike an agreement would be “very bad” for Brussels.
Meanwhile Mr Singham has also backed former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s idea of offsetting tax breaks for businesses against – as well as backing Dominic Raab’s idea of “Brexit budget” offering tax breaks to businesses preparing for a no-deal scenario, rather than handing over £39billion to the EU.
In a column in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Raab – who resigned from his post last month after Mrs May unveiled her Brexit divorce deal – wrote: “The Treasury must prepare a Brexit budget to identify businesses – including ‘just in time’ manufacturers – most at risk from a departure on WTO terms.
Brexit news: Top economist says Mrs May’s “weakness”makes a no-deal outcome “a greater possibility”
10.45am update: Over half of small and medium businesses would change their mind on Brexit – new index results
The new Citibase Business Confidence Index results, which show the finidngs for Q4, revealed that over half of Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK wouyld change their mind on the EU referendum result if given the chance.
The Index resuts show 67% of UK SMEs would like to remain part of the customs union, while 50% of small businesses have found it harder to attract investment or raise funding since the referendum, up from 46% in Q3
The index results also reveal 65% of UK SMEs would change their decision on Brexit if given the opportunity, while 64% have already started, or are about to start, creating a post-Brexit strategy to deal with any issues that may arise.
Following the pressures faced by beleagured Priem Minister Theresa May, 62% of small businesses would like to see a snap general election after we leave the EU.
The quarterly survey of 1,048 SME decision makers was released by Citibase, and surveyed a wide variety of sectors including marketing, PR, financial services, travel and recruitment.
Brexit news: 62 percent of businesses would change their mind on Brexit if given a second chance
10.15am update: Mrs May reportedly attempted to “heal rift” with Jacob Rees-Mogg following failed coup
The Times reports how the Prime Minister invited European Research Group (ERG) chairman and hardline Breixteer Jacob Rees-Mogg for conciliatory talks, just six days after a failed coup attempt on Mrs May’s leadership.
Nine other Tory MP’s were invited to talks in order to heal Party divisions over her Brexit deal.
A source present at the meeting told the newspaper: “She appealed to us as long-standing Conservatives to come together and find a way through.
The source claimed that Mr Rees-Mogg said it was nice of the prime minister to invite him so soon after the vote of no confidence.
The source said: “Even the policeman on the door looked surprise.”
Some of the MPS in attendance believe Mr Rees-Mogg softened his stance by suggesting he would support Mrs May’s deal if there were legal clarity on the backstop.
A source told the Times: “This is the first time they’ve ever suggested they might even back it
Brexit news: Mr Rees-Mogg apparently attended conciliatory talks with the Prime Minister after coup
10.00am update: Restaurant chain Zizzi switches to British Mozzarella as Brexit no-deal concerns grow
Restaurant chains Zizzi and ASK are to switch from Italian too Brisih Mozzarella over concerns about no-deal Brexit food shortages.
Parent company Azzurri took the decision as fears grow that a hard Brexit will disrupt food supply into the UK.
Kathryn Turner, director of food development at Zizzi also said that the exportation of food and it’s environmental impact was also a concern.
The new product, which is made from Welsh milk, also passed a blind tasting test by senior Azzurri staff.
Ms Turner said: ”It has better stretch, a better flavour profile, it’s much creamier, it has a lot better quality product.
The new mozzarella has already been introduced in ASK restaurants and will be part of the Zizzi menu in the new year.
It is the latest move by a food and drink company to reduce the potential for disruption after Brexit.
Meanwhile, businesses including Premier Foods, Quorn, and even Fortnum & Mason have said they will stockpile some products in case of delays at the border.
Brexit news: Zizzi is preparing for food shortages and delays in the event of no-deal Brexit
9.45am update: Labour former minister quits party due to Corbyn’s ‘anti-western world’ view
Beseiged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has received another blow just days after he appeared to call the Prime Minister a “stupid woman” during PMQs on Wednesday.
Ivan Lewis, the MP for Bury South since 1997 – suspended from the party since November last year after allegations of sexual harassment, which he denied – ha quiot the party over what he called Mr Corbyn’s “anti Western view” of the world.
The Times reports Mr Lewis said he “could no longer reconcile my Jewish identity and current Labour politics” in a letter to the Labour leader.
His resignation letter read: “It is for others to decide whether you are antisemitic, but what is absolutely clear is that you and Seumas Milne do not believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their own state.
“This is different to your view on the right to self-determination for every other minority community.”
“All too often you have been unwilling to condemn those whose hatred of Israel becomes Jew hatred, this is incompatible with being a lifelong campaigner against racism.”
A Labour spokeswoman said: “Jeremy Corbyn thanks Ivan for his service to the Labour Party. The Labour Party takes all complaints of sexual harassment extremely seriously, which are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and appropriate disciplinary action taken.”
Brexit news: Ivan Lewis has quit Labour over what he called Mr Corbyn’s “anti western world view”
9.30am update: Leo Varadkar “not being helpful” as Ireland attempts to avoid hard border in event of “no-deal”
In the evemt of the UK crashing out the EU with a no-deal, Dublin’s own contingency plans have shown they face being hammered by a no-deal outcome, with the threat of food shortages and huge queues at ports.
Plans published by the Irish government insist it will still try to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland even if there is no deal.
Tory MP Henry Smith told the Mail Online: “The irony of these plans is striking.
“Leo Varadkar has not been very helpful in the Brexit process. He has sought to gain politically over the pragmatism that is needed.
“Ireland has a great deal to lose from Brexit not being delivered properly.”
Leo Varadkar revealed on Wednesday that his government has made “no preparations whatsoever”
Brexit news: there are “no contingency plans” for Ireland if the UK crashes out of EU without a deal
09.10am update: Scottish Government calls for immigration to be devolved post-Brexit
The Scottish Government has increased demands for control over immigration to be devolved north of the Border amid criticism of the post-Brexit proposals outlined by Mrs May
Scotland’s Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the long-held policy’s “time has come” and would provide a “short-term solution” prior to independence from the EU Bloc
The proposed curbs on EU workers coming to the UK after 2021, when freedom of movement ends, mans workers from the EU must have some form of permission.
Meanwhile, EU visitors will need to take part in an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme.
The number of EU nationals coming to work in the UK will fall by an estimated 85 per cent.
Mr Russels said of the figure: “An 85 per cent drop would be impossible to imagine. It would throw the economy into complete chaos.
“Many of us take this as a personal affront as to how the world will see us – we’re not like this. Clearly independence is the best alternative, but we have long argued for a devolved approach to migration.
Mr Russell wants immigration controls north of the borde to be devolved following EU worker plans
“I remember having a conversation with former UK Brexit Secretary David Davis about this when he was in office and pointing out the great advantage of devolving migration because you can then set whatever targets you wanted in the rest of the UK.
08.45am: Treasury Minister Mel Stride says businesses “need to take certain steps” to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Treasury Minister Mel Stride has said businesses that import or export to the EU “will need to take certain steps” to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
The Financial Secretary said the Government was issuing a “call to action” in order to get businesses ready for the “unlikely event” of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Mr Stride, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “The time is now, so there is a call to action and those who are importing or exporting into and out of the EU 27, in the unlikely event that there is a no deal at the end of March, will need to take certain steps. They need to do that now.”
Asked if this advice was “a bit late in the day”, he responded: “Well no. We’ve been preparing now for two years very solidly, so we’ve done things like liaising with all our ports and making sure that we’ve got those parts of the equation in the right place.
“We’ve been ramping up the information campaign, over the summer we have 106 technical notes dealing with all sorts of aspects of the issues we’re discussing now,” he added.
08.30am update: Justice Secretary “will quit” if Government backs a ‘No-deal” Brexit
Cabinet minister David Gauke said he would find it “very difficult” to remain in Theresa May’s Government if the UK appeared on course to crash out of the European Union without a deal.
The Prime Minister is battling to maintain Cabinet discipline as senior ministers set out rival plans for dealing with the potential rejection of her plan next month.
Mrs May has stressed that a no-deal Brexit is a possible outcome if her plan is rejected by MPs in January’s Commons showdown.
Mr Gauke said: “I think making a conscious decision to proceed with no deal would not be the responsible course of action.”
Speaking to BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast, he said: “I think it would be very difficult for me in those circumstances.
“I am conscious that there is a risk of an accidental no deal… Although Parliament clearly doesn’t want no deal, it’s not clear that there is a majority for a specific course of action to stop no deal.
The Justice Secretary will quit if the Government backs a no deal after January vote
“The best way of stopping no deal is to back the Prime Minister’s deal in my view. So I think it would be very difficult and I think if it came down to the Government saying consciously, “well, we’ll just have to do that”, I don’t think there would be a lot of support for it.”
08.10am update: Jacob Rees-Mogg SHUTS DOWN Ireland border row with SIMPLE Brexit plan
The hardline Brexiteer proposed a simple solution to the Brexit impasse in Westminster as he pointed out there is no need for an Irish backstop if Ireland has no intention of imposing a hard border.
Leo Varadkar revealed yesterday that his government has made “no preparations whatsoever” to build new infrastructure despite the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
After Ireland published details of its contingency planning for a hard exit, the Irish Taoiseach said: “We are not preparing for a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. “We certainly do not want it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
But Mr Rees-Mogg said that if Ireland had no intention of setting up customs checkpoints along the politically-sensitive frontier, there is no need for the contentious Irish backstop element of Theresa May’s deal.
He tweeted: “No deal means no hard border so no need for the backstop.”
Brexit news: Mr Rees-Mogg has attacked Mrs May’s backstop plan in the past
The Irish backstop arrangement is one of the most contentious aspects of the Prime Minister’s deal, with hardline Brexiteers concerned it could effectively be used to trap Britain in a customs union with the EU.
07.50am update: Brexiteer Dorries PASSIONATELY defends no deal Brexit – ‘NOT crashing out from EU!’
Brexit wiill not result into a “car crash” for the UK if the British Government fails to secure a deal with the European Union because of the safety net the World Trade Organisation provides to British business, Brexiteer Nadine Dorries claimed.
Staunch Brexiteer Nadine Dorries passionately defended the concept of a no deal Brexit, arguing the UK would be able to cope outside the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
Ms Dorries insisted trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms would still ensure British business do not face customs checks after March 29.