On Wednesday, the Prime Minister lost three votes in the Commons in just over one hour – more than any Government in 40 years. It followed the publishing of the Attorney General’s legal advice. The six-page 33-paragraph document by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was released to MPs a day after the House of Commons found the Government in contempt of Parliament for trying to keep it secret.
The letter, dated November 13, emerged just minutes before Mrs May faced MPs in a weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions ahead of the second day of a five-day Commons debate on her deal.
It warned that it could result in the UK becoming stuck in “protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations” and revealed the UK would find itself in a ‘backstop trap’.
The DUP has said it will withdraw its support for Mrs May’s deal if she wins the backing of Parliament, as debate in the Commons and Lords raged on.
The Prime Minister faces increased pressure over the so-called Irish backstop, which will require that regulatory checks take place between Norther Ireland and Britain.
Brexit live: Theresa May faces criticism after Attorney General found in contempt of Parliament
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will continue to have jurisdiction over Northern Ireland during backstop. Britain could be trapped ‘indefinitely’ in the customs union under May’s deal and under the backstop, Britain will be treated as a third country.
Asked if the DUP was prepared to precipitate a general election, the party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If it comes to the point where the Government makes, shows, a determination to implement the Withdrawal Agreement with its damaging terms at present, or some future version of it, which is still equally damaging, we will not be supporting the Government.”
Referring to the DUP’s agreement to prop up the Tories in the Commons, Mr Wilson added: “If they break the agreement which they have with us, then they don’t have our support.
FOLLOW EXPRESS.CO.UK BELOW FOR LIVE UPDATES
9.30am update: Theresa May “exploring” if MPs can choose between backstop or transition period extension
Theresa May said that a backstop arrangement will be “part of any deal” and “there is no deal without a backstop”.
She said earlier on the Today programme: “I think there questions about how decisions are taken, as to whether we go into the backstop because that isn’t an automatic.
“If we get to the point where we need to have an arrangement to make sure we have this guarantee – we’re guaranteeing this commitment to the people of Northern Ireland there’s no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – the point at which this is necessary, if it happens, is if the future relationship.
“If that hasn’t completed by the end of December 2020, we need this continued guarantee for people in Northern Ireland for an interim period.
“The question is, do we go into the backstop, do we extend what I call the implementation period, it’s become known as the transition period.
“That’s a decision that has to be taken at that point in time and what we negotiated is actually it’s for the UK to choose which of those we want to go into.”
The Irish border issue remains one of the ket sticking points of her withdrawal agreement
9.15am update: Scottish Secretary to tell Nicola Sturgeon “to listen to businesses on Brexit deal”
Scotland Secretary David Mundell will tell Nicola Sturgeon to listen to Scottish businesses on the Brexit deal in London later today.
Mr Mundell will say Ms Sturgeon needs to “stop lecturing and start listening” to businesses north of the border that back the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement.
The SNP leader has called on MPs to vote down Theresa May’s deal.
She citing the economic damage it would cause to Scotland and the rest of the UK, and to also reject a no deal outcome.
Mr Mundell will say:”Nicola Sturgeon is very good at telling us all what Scotland thinks. It’s funny how it’s always what she thinks. But what she really needs to do is open her ears, and hear what Scotland is actually saying.
Brexit news: Scottish Secretary Dave Mundell will tell Ms Sturgeon to “listen to businesses”
“If she genuinely wants to represent Scotland’s views she has to stop lecturing and start listening.
“If she listened, she’d know we have a workable solution. If she listened, she’d understand how little appetite there is for simply prolonging the uncertainty.
9.00am update: Day three of withdrawal debate to focus on the economy
The Chancellor Philip Hammond will open today’s Commons debate on Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement.
The focus of the day’s debating is set to be on the impact on the country’s economy.
Mr Hammond will faces opponents after telling a committee of MPs that the UK economy would be damaged in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Mr Hammond is due to face questions around the economy in day three of debates over withdrawal
8.45am update: Priem Minister will “go ahead” with the crunch Commons vote despite backstop opposition
She added: “There are concerns about part of that withdrawal bit of the deal, which is what has come to be called the backstop.
“I recognise that there are those concerns. Any deal, any agreement, any arrangement that we came to with the European Union would involve a backstop.
“So, people talk about, “let’s have a Norway, or let’s have a Canada”, everything involves a backstop.
“Secondly, none of the other arrangements that people have put forward fully deliver on the referendum. This deal delivers on the referendum.”
Theresa May escaped a major grilling during PMQs in the House of Commons yesterday
8.30am update: EU Court to issue ruling on December 10
Europe’s highest court will issue it’s ruling on the reversibility of Brexit at 8am GMT on December 10.
The ruling will come on the eve of a crucial vote in the British parliament on whether to accept a deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May.
Mwanwhile, the Prime Minister said there should not be another UK referendum.
An ECJ adviser issued an opinion in the case on Tuesday that Britain could simply stop Brexit without seeking approval from other member states.
The comments will boost the hopes of those who want to halt the process.
Brexit news: Theresa May faces another uphill struggle in Parliament against a growing number of MPs
8.10am: Theresa May appears on Radio 4’s Today Programme, dodges questions over a “plan B”
The Prime Minister is appearing on the daily poilitics programme on BBC Radio 4.
When told she was seemingly struggling to sell the deal to Parliament, Mrs May said: “We haven’t had the vote yet.
“What MPs will be thinking of is three options: we leave with a deal, or we leave with no deal, and there are those who want to frustrate Brexit.
The backstop is an integral part of the agreement, and it would be part of any deal negotiated with the EU.”
Asked whether she had a plan B in the event of a No Confidence vote, Mrs May said “that question is not for me”, to which John Humphrys said was a case of “back me or sack me”.
“Mrs May continued: “That question is not for me, that is those for who want to oppose the deal.
“In my mind, the options are there: deal, no deal or no Brexit.”
Theresa May was asked if there was a “plan b” on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday morning
8.00am update: Angry MPs request Speaker to launch ‘proceedings of contempt’ over legal advice
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds and senior MPs from the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party signed a letter to the house speaker venting their anger over the legal advice
A debate in the Commons could follow with the possibility of MPs voting on whether to suspend the Attorney General from parliament.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “The Government has failed to publish the Attorney General’s full and final legal advice to the Cabinet, as ordered by Parliament.
“We have therefore been left with no option but to write to the Speaker of the House of Commons to ask him to launch proceedings of contempt.”
A graphic showing the likely outcomes of the Withdrawal Agreement vote on December 11
7.50am update: May offered Article 50 extension by Brussels
On Wednesday evening, the EU told Mrs May it was prepared to discuss the possibility of extending Article 50 if her Brexit deal is rejected next on December 11.
Mrs May will travel to Brussels after the vote in Parliament, on December 13, where EU leaders will discuss postponing Brexit.