Trump condemned May for “not listening” to him during EU negotiations
The US President also said he was “surprised by how badly” negotiations had gone doing a press conference with Leo Varadkar. He said: “The eu as your know has been ver tough to deal with, it’s been very one-sided for many many years and we’re changing that around and we’re starting to maybe get some word, if we don’t we’ll go in anyway. “I’m not going to comment on Brexit, I can tell you it’s a very complex thing right now, tearing country apart – actually tearing a lot of countries apart – and it’s a shame that it has to be that way.”
He went on to list the work he has done for America before adding Mrs may refused to listen to his advice on Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.
He also said a second referendum would not happen “because it would be unfair”.
He added: “I’m surprised at how badly it’s gone from the stand point of a negotiation but I gave the Prime Minister my ideas on how to negotiate it you would have been successful but she didn’t listen to that and she’s got to do what she’s got to do.”
SEE BELOW FOR UPDATES…
5.01pm update: MPs vote on second referendum
MPs are now voting on Amendment H – put forward by the Independent Group and Lib Dems.
This will extend Article 50 for long enough to allow SECOND REFERENDUM on May’s deal vs staying in EU.
5pm update: Simon Coveney says EU to offer 21-month Brexit extension
Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy prime minister, has told The Guardian the EU is likely to offer a 21-month Article 50 extension.
He also said Ireland would not object to a Brexit extension.
He said: “If you have a long extension of say 21 months, to the end of 2020, or whatever the period would be, well then Britain has a legal entitlement to have representation in the European parliament.”
4.50pm update: ERG to ‘vote against ALL amendments’ tonight
The ERG will vote against all amendments this evening, the Financial Times reports.
Sebastian Payne, the Financial Times’ Whitehall Correspondent, tweeted: “ERG voting against all amendments tonight.”
He added: “One senior ERG MP says there are “no circumstances when the group will not support the Tory government” in a confidence motion – except Christopher Chope.”
Prime Minister Theresa May “went batsh*t” at Tory Remainers
Under no circumstances an extension in the dark! Unless there is a clear majority in the House of Commons for something precise, there is no reason at all for the European Council to agree on a prolongation. Even the motion tabled for this evening by the UK Gov. recognises this. https://t.co/BNJVVT7Klw
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) March 14, 2019
The letter was shared by Donald Tusk
4.26pm update: Donald Tusk shares child’s unicorn card in thinly-veiled dig at Brexiteers
Donald Tusk shared a card on social media he claims a six-year-old girl from London sent to him saying the UK and the EU should remain friends in spite of Brexit divisions.
The post, finished with a drawing of a unicorn, may have been shared as a subtle dig at Brexiteers as the mythical animal has become a symbol of their demands, which the EU deem to be from their “magic world”.
The European Council President shared the letter Sophie had sent to him requesting for them to still be friends and asking for a signed photo of the EU chief for her Europe Book.
The letter said: “Dear Mr Tusk, I live in Britain. I know we are leaving the EU but I think we should be friends. Please may I have a signed photo of you for my Europe book. “From Sophie, aged 6, I have drawn you a unciorn.”
“When he shared the picture on the social media platform, Mr Tusk said: “We will always be friends, Sophie.”
4.25pm update: Guy Verhofstadt rejects Brexit extension without ‘clear majority’ in scathing tweet
Guy Verhofstadt has rejected allowing a Brexit extension following last night’s no deal fiasco – unless Prime Minister Theresa May scoops a “clear majority”.
In a tweet hours before the vote to extend Article 50 takes place, he said: “Under no circumstances an extension in the dark! Unless there is a clear majority in the House of Commons for something precise, there is no reason at all for the European Council to agree on a prolongation. Even the motion tabled for this evening by the UK Gov. recognises this.”
His tweet came after Donald Tusk hinted at a “long extension” after MPs rejected a no deal scenario last night in an unbelievably close ballot.
Wow – Sir Christopher Chope refusing to rule out voting for a Commons motion of no confidence – accuses the PP of betrayal. Adds the PM would not survive a Confidence vote among Tory MPs, if held today.
— Mark D’Arcy (@DArcyTiP) March 14, 2019
4.37pm update: May goes ‘batsh*t’ at Remain rebels
Prime Minister Theresa May “went batsh*t” at Tory Remainers.
Frances Elliott, political editor for The Times, tweeted: “Read out from political cabinet: May “went batsh*t” at Remain rebels. Clark’s effort to defend himself “ended badly”. Rudd “bashful”.
MPs are now gathering in the House of Commons to vote on whether or not to delay Article 50 as well as a series of amendments – including a second referendum.
4.15pm update: Tory rebels – PM ‘would not survive no-confidence vote’ tonight
A senior Tory Brexiteer would “seriously consider” supporting a Labour bid to bring down Theresa May’s Government, accusing the Prime Minister of “betrayal” over Brexit.
Former minister Sir Christopher Chope said he believed Mrs May would lose an internal Conservative Party confidence vote on her leadership among her MPs, and that several would also give thought to supporting a no confidence motion in the Government tabled by the Opposition.
He had pushed a proposal, not selected to be voted upon, which suggested extending Brexit talks from March 29 to May 22 in order to replace the UK negotiating team.
Sir Christopher also told the Commons it was “pure fantasy” to believe the PM could secure a majority in Parliament for her deal, adding Mrs May has “lost control” and at the “most critical moment of our modern peacetime history we need to change the general”.
4.05pm update: List of tonight’s amendments
Tonight, MPs will vote on a list of amendments as well as the main vote on whether to delay Brexit. Below is a list of the ballots.
MAIN VOTE – Vote on delay is now tied to having ANOTHER vote on May’s deal next week. Basically, if her vote is passed there would be short vote to June 30. If rejected, a delay beyond then.
AMENDMENT E – Put forward by Labour, would get rid of having another vote on May’s deal. Would also extend Article 50 substantially to avoid leaving with no deal.
AMENDMENT H – By Independent Group and Lib Dems. Extend Article 50 for long enough to allow SECOND REFERENDUM on May’s deal vs staying in EU.
AMENDMENT I – Cross-party. This would allow a series of ‘indicative votes’ by Parliament to help choose a new way forward (including possible 2nd ref, or softer brexit).
AMENDMENT J – Cross-party. Similar to E, would basically rule out voting again on May’s deal.
3.50pm update: March Brexit still possible
Although parliament yesterday voted against the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the default position if nothing else is agreed remains that Britain will exit on March 29 without a transition arrangement.
Business leaders warn that this would cause chaos. Brexit supporters say that, in the longer term, it would allow Britain to forge trade deals across the world and thrive.
May’s spokesman said she would put her deal to another vote “if it was felt that it were worthwhile”.
3.45pm update: Trump says EU must extend Brexit deadline
Asked if he thinks the Brexit deadline should be extended, Mr Trump said: “I think they are probably going to have to do something because right now there are in the midst of a very short period of time, at the end of the month and they are not going to be able to do that.
“We can do a very big trade deal with the UK. We are also re-negotiating our trade deal with the European groups and literally individual nations.”
He met with Leo Varadkar in Washington.
Mr Trump spoke out over Brexit
3.10pm update: Trump wades in on Brexit row ‘second referendum NOT FAIR!’
US President Donald Trump has waded into the Brexit row and said he does not think a second referendum will happen, adding “because it would be unfair”.
The American held a joint press conference with Leo Varadkar, with the President also saying he was “surprised how badly the Brexit negations have gone”.
2.57pm update: “It was the only way to stop no deal on March 29,” insists Rudd
Mrs Rudd said she voted against the Government because it was “the only opportunity to vote to prevent no deal at the end of this month”, which she said was “completely consistent” with Government policy.
“I wanted March 29 to be a day of new beginnings when we could start to focus on maximising the prospects for the UK outside the European Union. I have consistently voted and acted to support the Prime Minister’s plan to leave the European Union.
“However, we are once more trying to find a way to leave the European Union consistent with our commitment to maintain a strong relationship with Europe.
“I continue to support that. I continue to support the PM in delivering an agreement,” she concluded.”
2.54pm update: Rudd defends failure to back Government
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who yesterday defied Government whips to abstain on a motion on leaving the EU without a deal, tweeted a letter she had sent to constituents defending her decision.
She wrote: “Last night I abstained on the main motion in the House of Commons which asked whether we should leave the European Union without a deal.
“To do so would, in my view, do generational damage to our economy and security.
“It is a mistake to leave the EU without a deal, but it right to prepare to do so just in case so we can mitigate any damage as best as we can.”
2.50pm update: “Any Ministers failing to vote against Second Referendum should resign,” says Francois
Conservative MP Mark Francois, has said any Tory minister failing to oppose an amendment tabled by former party colleague Sarah Wollaston, now a member of the so-called Independent Group, should resign.
Mr Francois, vice-chairman of the Leave-backing European Research Group, said: “Sarah Wollaston’s amendment, which will be voted on at 5pm, is an in-principle decision by the House of Commons on whether or not to have a second referendum.
“It has long been the Conservative Party’s policy to oppose such a poll and I hope that every Conservative will vote against it.
“However, after the chaos of last night, if any Government minister fails to oppose a second referendum they must surely follow the honourable example of Sarah Newton and resign on principle. Our members in the country would expect no less.”
2.36pm update: German MEP fears “no deal by accident”
No deal “by accident” is now a distinct possibility, a Germany MEP has predicted in the wake of Mrs May’s latest Brexit defeats.
Reinhard Bütikofer told German newspaper Tagblatt: “There are no majorities in London at the moment.
“A no-deal “by accident” is threatening, meaning an unplanned stumbling into a contract-free Brexit.”
Asked about extending the deadline beyond March 29, Mr Bütikofer said: “And then what? Then in three months we will face the same problem. In the Tory party, the hard-Brexiteers have now taken over the discourse sovereignty. These are extremists, with whom you can not compromise.
“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself speculates on new elections and therefore behaves unreasonable. I fear for the worst.”
2.26pm update: “Shame on you”: Soubry blasts Starmer over Labour failure to back amendment H
TIG’s Anna Soubry and Labour’s Keir Starmer were involved in a heated exchange after the party’s Brexit spokesman confirmed it would not be backing amendment H, calling for a second referendum.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Starmer referenced the official People’s Vote campaign, who have said they do not back the motion tabled by independent MP Sarah Wollaston.
After reading out their objections he added: “Those pressing this amendment seem to be out of step with the vast majority of co-campaigners, campaigning for exactly the same push.
“They may genuinely have a difference of opinion but we will not be supporting H tonight.”
Ms Soubry, a leading backer of a second referendum who quit the Conservative Party in favour of the Independent Group last month, shouted “shame on you” at Sir Keir.
Keir Starmer has said Labour was not backing amendment H
2.22pm update: Brexit gridlock “embarrassing” – but solution is possible, says Hands
Former Tory Minister Greg Hands MP has admitted the ongoing impasse over Brexit is “embarrassing” for all concerned – but emphasised his belief in an “eleventh hour” deal.
Mr Hands, whose wife is German and who speaks the language fluently, made his remarks during an interview with radio station Deutschlandfunk.
He said: “It’s embarrassing on the London side and on the Brussels side. But that was always my conviction, that it would always go on until the last week.
That is always the case with this kind of negotiation, especially negotiations with Brussels. That was always the case “in eleventh hour”. But I think a solution is possible here.
“It takes a little bit of movement from Brussels. Remember that the treaty is beneficial to Brussels in the coming negotiations with Britain. Brussels has to give a bit more and then it will pass through the British House of Commons. That is my firm belief.
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
2.12pm update: “Tell us what Brexit extension is for,” urges Dutch Foreign Minister Blok
The Dutch Government is willing to grant the United Kingdom an extension of the process, as long as it is clear what the purpose is, Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said on Thursday.
“The Netherlands is in itself willing to cooperate on an extension”, Blok said. “But it is very important that London makes it clear what it wants to use the delay for.”
2.08pm update: Starmer dodges second referendum question
Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer has ducked a question about whether Labour will back calls for a second referendum.
Mr Starmer said today’s vote was about delaying Article 50, and refused to be drawn about the idea of a so-called People’s Vote.
However, he stressed his party would not be backing amendment H in the latest round of voting tonight, which specifically calls for another vote.
2.02pm update: “No guarantees EU will grant extension,” says Leadsom
There is no guarantee the EU’s 27 remaining members will be willing to grant the UK an extension to talks even if one if requested, Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom has warned.
Ms Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “They may not give the extension timeline that we want, they may set conditions that we might find unacceptable, or they may simply refuse,” Ms Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s World At One.
“I want us to be leaving the EU with the Prime Minister’s deal on March 29.
“I think it’s in the UK’s national interest.”
Angela Merkel has said there are now “fewer options” on Brexit
1.58pm update: “There are now fewer options,” admits Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted there are “fewer options” after Theresa May’s Brexit deal was once again voted down by Parliament.
Speaking on German television yesterday, Mrs Merkel said: “Of course it remains our goal, we haven’t given up on it just because of yesterday, that there will be an orderly exit of Great Britain.
“But because of yesterday there are of course fewer options.”
Former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, SPD, said: “People do understand that Europe is a peace project, but people have gotten used to it.
“We have to explain it especially to young people that this shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“With GB this project Europe would lose an important component.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
1.44pm update: Spanish companies “will be hit hard by tariffs in the event of a no deal Brexit”
Spanish companies Zara, Mango and Desigual, as well as car manufacturer Seat, have complained they will be hit by the UK’s plans to impose new tariffs on imports from the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The Government said yesterday it would scrap levies on 87 percent of imports, while in many others, including meat, dairy or ceramics, the amount would be reduced.
However, the remaining 13 percent will be subject to new tariffs targeting the automobile industry and fashion distributors.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
1.33pm update: No agreement means long extension, says Coveney
Mr Coveney said a long extension was “what is likely to happen” if there is no agreement in Parliament on a deal.
He said: “If you have a long extension of say 21 months, to the end of 2020, or whatever the period would be, well then Britain has a legal entitlement to have representation in the European Parliament.”
Mr Coveney added Ireland would “continue to prepare for a no-deal just in case” despite the outcome of Wednesday’s vote in the House of Commons.
But he said he hoped that over the next week would “take a turn in a positive direction” that would provide more certainty.
1.31pm update: EU will offer 21-month extension, predicts Ireland’s deputy PM Coveney
Irish deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney has said the EU is likely to offer the UK a 21-month extension to Brexit.
Mr Coveney said a long extension would give the UK a “long reflection period” about the kind of Brexit they want and could facilitate a fundamental rethink.
He told RTE’s Sean O’Rourke programme that Mrs May was offering a “stark choice” to the UK Parliament.
He said: ”Back a deal by the middle of next week and we’ll have a short extension which will essentially be a technical extension to get all the legals in place, or we’re essentially looking for, we will look for, a much longer extension to allow Britain to rethink its approach to Brexit.”
1.28pm update: Delay without agreement “increases risk of crashing out of the EU without a deal”
Mr Lidington also said agreeing a short delay to Brexit without an agreement would increase the risk of leaving the European Union without a deal, cabinet office minister David Lidington said on Thursday.
“In the absence of a deal, seeking such a short and critically one-off extension would be downright reckless and completely at odds with the position this House adopted only last night making a no-deal far more rather than less likely,” he told parliament.
1.23pm update: Longer Brexit extension “will have consequences”, admits Lidington
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Lidington said there would be “consequences” of a longer extension to the Brexit process, including the need to hold European Parliament elections in May.
He told MPs: “We either deliver on the result of the referendum, giving people and businesses across the country the certainty they’re calling for and move on as a nation, or we enter into a sustained period of uncertainty during which time the Government would work with this House to find a way through, but which I fear would do real damage to the public’s faith in politics and trust in our democracy.”
Mr Lidington earlier reiterated the Government’s opposition to a second referendum.
After Tory former minister Mark Francois questioned if the Government would whip its MPs and ministers to oppose amendment H, Mr Lidington said: “I hope it provides some reassurance if I say that the Government’s collectively agreed policy as regards a second referendum has not changed.”
1.20pm update: Gibraltarians regret failure to agree May’s deal
The Cross Frontier Group of Gibraltar, made up of companies and unions from both Spain and the British colony has said it “regrets” Parliament’s decision to reject Theresa May’s Brexit agreement.
The Spanish spokesman for the group, Lorenzo Pérez Periáñez, said the uncertainty regarding the UK’s departure from the European Union, harms Campo de Gibraltar.
The group has pledged to work to ensure relations between the populations on “both sides of the fence” were not be affected at any time.
Nevertheless, they stressed the situation was pointing towards a new referendum, with the Spanish government saying it was prepared for any contingency that may arise.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
1.13pm update: Failure to pass May’s deal “will mean long Brexit delay”, Lidington warns MPs
If British lawmakers have not passed a deal by March 20, the government will give Parliament the opportunity to vote on the way forward, Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington said on Thursday.
The Government has proposed to seek a three-month delay to Britain’s exit if a deal is approved by March 20, but has said a much longer extension of the Article 50 negotiation period would likely be needed if that has not happened.
Mr Lidington, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy, said: “We would be faced with the prospect of choosing only a long extension during which the House (of Commons) would need to face up to the choices in front of it and the consequences of the decisions,”
“The government recognises that the House will require time to consider the potential ways forward in such a scenario so the government would facilitate a process in the two weeks after the March European Council to allow the House to seek a majority on the way forward.”
1.05pm update: “Don’t resign,” Newton tells ministerial Brexit rebels
She said: “I remain absolutely committed to ensuring that we leave the EU in an orderly way, and still very much support the Prime Minister and her deal.
“I hope in the coming days, with all the arguments that are being made, all of us working together can overcome the remaining objections and make sure we honour the commitment. We were not elected to deliver a no-deal .”
Ms Newton said she would vote for the “technical extension” of Article 50 in Thursday night’s vote to “get a deal across the line”.
“I think it’s essential that the Prime Minister stays in position and that my colleagues stay in the Cabinet,” she said.
“My understanding is that they were offered the opportunity to abstain, and they took that opportunity.”
12.50pm update: Leave Means Leave chief complains of “shameless bias”
Immediately after Mr Bercow’s ruling, Leave Means Leave co-chairman Richard Tice launched a fiery attack on the Speaker, accusing him of “shameless bias”.
He tweeted: “Speaker of HoC John Bercow has just allowed MPs a vote on holding another referendum, but decided not to allow a vote on ruling one out.
“Utterly shameless bias. Remainers taking control of Brexit.
“Smell of betrayal is getting stronger by the hour.”
Mark Francois quizzed Mr Bercow about his decision in the Commons earlier
12.47pm update: Francois quizzes Bercow on amendment ruling
Mr Bercow’s decision prompted ERG vice-chairman Mark Francois to ask him on what basis he had made his decision, given the ERG’s amendment B had not been selected despite being backed by 127 MPs.
Mr Bercow said: “I’ve tried to use my judgement.
“I’ve given a ruling on it which I believe to be extremely reasonable.”
12.36pm update: Bercow selects amendments for tonight’s vote
Amendments selected by speaker Mr Bercow this evening include:
- Amendment H, tabled by Independent Group MP Sarah Wollaston and which seeks an Article 50 extension to stage a second referendum with Remain and Parliament’s preferred Brexit option on the ballot paper.
- Amendment I, tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn and which seeks to allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process.
- Amendment E, Labour’s amendment which notes that Parliament has “decisively” rejected both Theresa May’s deal and no deal and calls for a delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.
- Amendment J, Labour MP Chris Bryant’s amendment to stop a third meaningful vote on Mrs May’s deal.
12.20am update: Trump talks up post-Brexit trade deal
US President Donald Trump has offered a huge boost for under-pressure UK Prime Minister Theresa May by eyeing up an “unlimited” trade deal with the UK after Brexit.
Mr Trump’s early-morning tweet said: “My Administration looks forward to negotiating a large scale Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. The potential is unlimited!”
Mrs May’s latest attempt to get her withdrawal agreement through Parliament was voted down for the second time in two months on Tuesday by 149 votes, after a record 230-vote defeat in January.
12.15pm update: Third vote will happen if “circumstances are right”, says May’s spokesman
British Prime Minister Theresa May will bring back her twice-defeated Brexit deal for another vote in parliament if the Government judges the circumstances are right, her spokesman said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Britain’s lawmakers rejected leaving the EU without a deal, further weakening May and paving the way for a vote that could delay Brexit until at least the end of June.
Mrs May’s spokesman said: ”If it was felt that it were worthwhile to bring back a new vote, then that’s what we would do. But that’s a decision we would have to judge on circumstances at the time.
“In terms of bringing back a vote, as ever you are guided by the fact that you would need to carry sufficient numbers of MPs (members of parliament).”
He said the vote later on Thursday on requesting a delay to Article 50 would be a free one to allow lawmakers to vote according to their beliefs rather than along party lines.
11.56am update: UK must take part in European Parliament elections if Brexit is delayed past May, says EU spokesman
The United Kingdom will be required to take part in the European Elections if it has not left the EU by May 23, an EU spokesman has said.
“And he also said yesterday that this unanimous decision by the EU 27 leaders on a possible extension request will have to give priority to the need to ensure the functioning of the EU institutions and take into account the reasons for and the duration of the possible extension.”
Mr Schinas’ remarks come after European Council President Donald Tusk talked up a “long extension” to Article 50.
11.46am update: “Real risk” MPs could block Brexit, warns David Davis
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has warned there is a “real risk” Parliament will derail the entire process of Brexit.
Mr Davis – who quit his role last year after the Chequers cabinet meeting which thrashed out Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement – tweeted: “There is now a real risk Parliament will thwart Brexit.
“MPs must endorse a way forward that delivers on the will of the British people.”
The Commons will vote on whether to request a delay to Article 50 later today, an idea Mr Davis previously described as “a stepping stone to stopping Brexit altogether”.
11.20am update: Cross-party alliance of MPs seeks to take control of Brexit process
Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper have tabled an amendment seeking to allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process.
The amendment aims to “enable the House of Commons to find a way forward that can command majority support”.
It states that on March 20, the standing order stating that Government business has precedence will not apply, and instead precedence will be given to a motion in the name of 25 MPs “relating to the Business of the House on a future day or days in connection with matters relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union”.
The amendment, signed by Mr Benn, Sir Oliver and Ms Cooper, also bears the names of Dominic Grieve, Norman Lamb, Stewart Hosie and Ben Lake.
Commons leader Angela Leadsom
11.18am update: Commons leader Leadsom silent on subject of third meaningful vote
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom did not mention anuy date for a third meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal as she announced the business for next week.
Mrs Leadsom confirmed a series of Brexit-linked statutory instruments would be put before MPs.
She later said: “I hope this House will come together to find a consensus that delivers on the will of the people to leave the European Union and do so in a way that inspires confidence in Parliament and in our roles as MPs.”
Mrs Leadsom’s comments come after speculation speaker John Bercow could rule out any further votes on the deal, in accordance with Commons rulebook Erskine May.
11.10am update: Andrea Jenkyns tells Business Minister Greg Clark to resign – live on air
Former Tory minister Andrea Jenkyns told Business Secretary Greg Clark to resign live on air last night as passions over Brexit threatened to boil over.
Ms Jenkyns told ITV’s political editor Robert Peston Mr Clark – who was also in the studio – should quit after abstaining from last night’s crunch vote which saw Parliament rule out a no deal Brexit on March 29.
She said: “I agree the minister should resign actually.
“At the end of the day, I resigned from my bag-carrying role – I was the first to resign to fight for Brexit because I believe in ministerial code that everybody who is part of Government should sign up to.
“We in this mess because at the top there is no strong leadership, unfortunately.”
11.07am update: CBI poll suggests nine out of ten firms prefer Brexit delay to no deal
Nearly nine out of 10 firms would prefer to delay Brexit rather than leave the EU without a deal, according to a CBI survey.
Released as MPs prepared to vote on a possible extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiations, the research found that just 8 percent of 273 companies polled reject a delay beyond the scheduled date of March 29.
Some 88 percent said they favoured an extension if the alternative was no deal.
CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “An overwhelming majority of businesses want an extension to Article 50, which should be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary.
11.02am update: “No Brexit extension in the dark,” says Verhofstadt
In response to Donald Tusk’s suggestion he could appeal to EU leaders for a “long extension” to Article 50, the European Parliament’s Co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has tweeted: “Under no circumstances an extension in the dark!”
Mr Verhofstadt added: “Unless there is a clear majority in the House of Commons for something precise, there is no reason at all for the European Council to agree on a prolongation.
“Even the motion tabled for this evening by the UK Gov. recognises this.”
10.58am update: “UK needs to go back to square one with Brexit”, says Ken Clarke
Arch-Remainer Ken Clarke says the UK should go “back to square one” and renegotiate Brexit from scratch – and suggested a “good, long delay”.
Tory MP Mr Clarke told Sky News: “I think we should suggest to the Europeans a good, long delay.
“Go back to square one and work out, over a proper time, the final relationship.”
10.48am “Get us out of this mess,” demands small businesses chairman
A “clear and coherent plan” for negotiating Brexit is needed, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said.
Mike Cherry explained: “Extending Article 50 for a short time is a realistic way to safeguard against a damaging and disastrous no deal Brexit on 29 March.
“This should only happen though if Parliament has a clear and coherent plan to get us out of this mess. There is absolutely no point extending uncertainty if all we get is more dithering, debate and political games. We would only be avoiding a cliff edge on 29 March to then face another further down the road.
“As the Westminster shambles have played out, pragmatism has been in short supply. This is needed now more than ever. Wherever MPs fall on the political spectrum, small businesses need them to stop playing games and come together in a genuine show of unity to find a solution that protects businesses, communities and the economy.”
10.45am Swiss trade deal is worth £32billion, Liam Fox tells Labour’s Sheerman
International trade secretary Liam Fox has clashed with Labour’s Barry Sheerman after unveiling a trade deal with Switzerland.
Mr Sheerman asked Mr Fox: “Does he not realise the Swiss deal is a tiny deal? There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s tiny.”
But Mr Fox, whose job chiefly consists of trying to line up post-Brexit deals with countries outside the EU, said: “Sometimes one wonders how small someone can actually become in the House of Commons.
“The Swiss deal is not small or insignificant and it’s worth over £32 billion each year.
“Switzerland is Britain’s biggest trading partner globally.
The honourable gentleman should know that.”
10.38am update: “Work with us,” Labour’s McDonnell urges Hammond
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to work with opposition members to come up with a Brexit solution.
Mr McDonnell told Sky: “Philip Hammond said he was opposed to no deal and was interested in compromise.
“We are saying to Philip Hammond ‘You said yesterday you and other MPs in your party are looking for compromise. Join us now in working through that compromise, because we think MPs, in the interests of the country, will put party politics aside and do that’.”
10.22am update: Cox should seek other legal opinions on backstop, says Hammond
The Chancellor said: “The Attorney General’s legal view is clearly very important and this is a very complex agreement and many other eminent lawyers are coming out with views and interpretations.
“And I’m sure the Attorney General will want to consider very carefully all the evidence, all the qualified opinion that there is around this issue.”
10.20am update: Hammond “certain” MPs will vote for a delay
It is “certain” that MPs will vote on Thursday to authorise Theresa May to seek a delay to Brexit, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said.
Mr Hammond told the Today programme that the Government would continue to try to build support for Mrs May’s deal, but added: “Whatever happens, if we don’t get the deal through in the next couple of days, the Prime Minister has to go the European Council next week and seek an extension of time.
“I’m certain that she will be mandated by Parliament today to seek an extension of time.
“And the European Union is going to ask us ‘What do you want this time for? What is the process now?’ and the House of Commons, if it can’t agree the deal over the next few days, has to decide what the answer to that question is.”
10.08am update: Goldsmith calls for voters to be allowed to recall MPs
Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has vowed to resurrect his campaign to enable voters to recall MPs who fail to enact their wishes in the wake of yesterday’s Tory rebellion.
Twenty MPs, including several senior ministers, ignored a three-line whip to abstain in a vote over whether to rule out a no deal Brexit, with the result that the amendment was carried.
Former London Mayoral candidate Mr Goldsmith tweeted: “If the last Parliament had backed my legislation for a proper recall system, I wonder if so many of today’s MPs would be comfortable ripping up the promises they made to their voters.
“I will find a way to bring those proposals back. They were scuppered by Labour last time, but backed by @jeremycorbyn and @johnmcdonnellMP.
“So they would stand a better chance now. MPs need to feel the pressure of democracy at all times, not just before elections.”
Zac Goldsmith has vowed to bring his recall plans back to the Commons
10am update: Prime Minister “trying to bully MPs”, says Sturgeon
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Instead of the PM pathetically using this to bully MPs into accepting a profoundly bad, already twice defeated deal, we should grab it with both hands and get out of the £brexit mess.”
She added: “If you are a Brexiteer, what does it say about your project if it has to be founded on a deal that a majority believes to be fundamentally flawed.
That cannot be the way to proceed – which is why PM should accept defeat, change course and accept this opportunity for a rethink.”
9.56am update: “Theresa May needs to quit to get Brexit deal through Parliament,” says Freeman
Conservative MP George Freeman suggested that Theresa May might have to announce she will quit as Prime Minister in order to get her Withdrawal Agreement through the House of Commons.
Mr Freeman said: “This chaos can’t continue.
“Something has to give. We need an orderly Brexit on March 29.
“If, to get the votes for that, the PM has to promise that she will go after the Withdrawal Treaty is secure, to allow a new leader to reunite the country and oversee the next stage, she should.”
9.46am update: Article 50 extension “must not lead to second referendum”, says Eustice
Former Tory Minister George Eustice is urging Parliament to rule out a second referendum.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Eustrice, who resigned as Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the wake of Theresa May’s promise to allow MPs to vote on requesting a delay to Article 50, said there was “no point” in having a second referenum if Parliament “lacked the integrity” to honour the first.
He added: “It would send an appalling message that the politicians think they know best and that the people must vote again until they give the answer MPs want.
“That is why I and others have tabled an amendment to be voted on by the House of Commons later today. It says if the House if Commons decides to extend Article 50, this extension must not lead to a second referendum.”
9.35am update: Remainers trying to “prevent will of British people”, says Kawczynski
Brexiteer Daniel Kawczynski has said attempts to extend Article 50 amount to a bid to “prevent the will of the British people”.
Mr Kawczynski, Conservative P for Shrewsbury and Ascham, tweeted: “I will be voting against extending Article 50 this evening in Commons.
“Genuinely concerned how so many Remain MPs are trying to prevent will of British people.
“Important to leave EU on time as promised.”
Danuta Hubner said the EU’s deal was “final”
9.25am update: EU deal “final”, insists Hubner
Britain will most likely get the European Union’s approval for a Brexit delay if it asks, but the bloc will not change its divorce deal during that time or negotiate future ties, European lawmaker Danuta Hubner insisted on Thursday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to push her lawmakers to vote again on the EU divorce deal, which they have already rejected twice, before the exit date of March 29.
Ms Hubner, who sits on a six-strong panel dealing with Brexit in the European Parliament, said the EU-UK divorce deal was final. Britain’s House of Commons was due to vote on Thursday on whether to seek an extension of Brexit negotiating time.
She added: ”There will not be a reopening of the agreement, there will not be more negotiations, this deal is final.”
9.15am update: Tusk eyes “long extension” to Brexit
Chairman of the European Council Donald Tusk said on Thursday he would ask EU heads of state and government to be open to granting Britain a long extension of talks if London needs time to rethink its strategy of leaving the EU.
Mr Tusk tweeted: “I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its strategy and build consensus around it.”
EU leaders meet to discuss Brexit on March 21-22.
Mr Tusk said he would ask for openness to this option in his consultations with leaders in the run-up to the summit.
During my consultations ahead of #EUCO, I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its #Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 14, 2019
9am update: May’s motion would authorise her to seek extension to Article 50
MPs are being asked to vote on a motion tabled by Theresa May which would authorise the Prime Minister to seek an extension of the two-year Article 50 negotiations, delaying Brexit beyond March 29.
The Prime Minister’s motion says that if the House of Commons has approved her Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for the future UK/EU relationship by March 20, she will seek a one-off extension until June 30 to allow time for the necessary legislation to be passed.
If her deal fails to win Commons support, the motion warns it is “highly likely” the EU will require the UK to set out a “clear purpose” before granting any extension and that any delay beyond June 30 will involve Britain taking part in May’s elections to the European Parliament.
MPs have tabled a number of amendments to Mrs May’s proposal. It will be for the Commons Speaker to decide which to select for debate, and it is unlikely that all will be pushed to a vote at 5pm.
8.46am update: “We must hold our nerve,” insists Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster has said Britain needs to “hold its nerve” and secure a withdrawal deal with the European Union that works for Northern Ireland.
Ms Foster also said she wanted Northern Ireland’s regional assembly to have a “meaningful say” on .
She told BBC Northern Ireland: “What people need to do is hold their nerve and to look for a deal that works for the whole of the United Kingdom.
She stressed Northern Ireland must remain “constitutionally and economically” within the United Kingdom.
DUP leader Arlene Foster
8.43am update: Rees-Mogg savages ministers over failure to resign
Jacob Rees Mogg has launched a stinging attack on the so-called “gang of four” ministers, claiming they should have resigned after defying a three-line whip and abstaining on a motion which took No Deal off the table last night.
Cabinet ministers Greg Clark, David Gauke, David Mundell, Claire Perry and Amber Rudd all refused to back the Government, and were joined by seven junior ministers and three Parliamentary Private Secretaries.
In the normal course of events ministers who fail to vote with the Government when a three-line whip – the toughest form of Parliamentary discipline – would quit the Government.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “Collective responsibility requires ministers to support government policy or to resign. It is a basic constitutional point.”
8.34am update: DUP holds talks with Government ministers over “sensible Brexit deal”.
Arlene Foster’s DUP have held talks with government ministers about finding “a sensible deal for the entire United Kingdom” to exit the European Union, the BBC has reported.
BBC Northern Ireland Political Correspondent Enda McClafferty said: “The party has confirmed it has been speaking to ministers to find a sensible deal for the entire UK and for the Irish Republic.
He also said that DUP leader Arlene Foster had met Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar during a St. Patrick’s Day visit to Washington.
The BBC reported separately that the DUP was seeking a role for the Northern Ireland assembly in a deal.
8.28am update: ERG “could be persuaded to vote for May’s deal next week”
The European Research Group is in talks with Theresa May, as well as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Geoffrey Cox, over changes to the Attorney General’s legal advice which could persuade them to vote for the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal next week.
A senior Tory Brexiteer told The Times: “I think what is being discussed could be enough to reassure the Democratic Unionist Party that there is a unilateral way out of the backstop.
“If the DUP were content with the deal then significant numbers of the ERG will go where the DUP go.
A Government source confirmed “channels of communication were open”.
8.17am update: Goldmach Sachs rates May’s chances of getting deal agreed at 60 percent
Goldman Sachs rates the chances of Theresa May getting her deal to exit the European Union ratified at 60 percent in the wake of Parliament’s rejection of the no deal option.
The new estimate is an increase from 55 percent, which was set on Wednesday.
The bank said it still sees a “considerable” chance that Brexit will be reversed through a second referendum. Its subjective odds are at 35 percent.
The bank reduced the probability of a no-deal further to five percent from 10 percent.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said he was “confident” a deal would be struck
8.14am update: Hammond “confident” deal will be reached despite Parliament’s “foot-stamping”
Chancellor Philip Hammond has predicted MPs will eventually get behind Theresa May’s deal despite yesterday’s vote ruling out a no deal Brexit.
Mr Hammond told Sky News: “I am confident, despite the process that is going on at the moment, that we will get to a deal which allows us to leave the European Union in an orderly fashion and to have a future close trading partnership with the European Union.
“The process of getting there may not be entirely smooth but I am confident that that will be the outcome.
“No deal on March 29 is off the table – the problem with Yvette Cooper’s amendment is that the H of C collectively stamping its foot and saying no deal does not actually deliver this outcome because the default in our legislation is no deal and the PM has always been abundantly clear about this: no deal, no Brexit, or with a deal.”
8am update: No deal IS still an option, insists Leave Means Leave
PRO-Brexit campaign group Leave Means Leave has insisted no deal remains an option, despite last night’s Commons vote.
Chairman Longworth says: “To remove no deal would completely undermine the UK’s negotiating position and it’s clear the narrow loss of this vote reflects the importance of having a no deal option in place.
“As any business person knows, unless you are prepared to walk away from the table the negotiation is lost before it is started.
In any event no deal is now the best deal available and would see the referendum result delivered, Liberty for our country and a boost for the economy and living standards. Fortunately Parliament cannot vote away no deal without a change in the law, so no deal remains on the table.”
7.51pm update: Speaker Bercow plots to block third vote
House of Commons speaker John Bercow could block a third vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
An obscure rule on page 397 of “Erskine May”, the Commons’ rule book states: “A motion or an amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided during a session may not be brought forward again during that same session.”
It continues: “Whether the second motion is substantively the same as the first is a matter for the chair.”
Asked in the Commons by Labour MP Angela Eagle whether he would consider ruling out another vote next week, Mr Bercow said: “No answer is required now but a ruling will be made about that matter at the appropriate time. “I’m grateful to the right honourable lady for reminding me a ruling might be required.”
7.40am update: May holds secret talks with DUP
Prime Minister Theresa May has held secret talks with the Democractic Unionist Party in a desperate attempt to get her Brexit deal over the line.
Mrs May needs the support of the DUP – which has 10 MPs, but which could tip the balance in her favour.
The PM is seeking to offer the party reassurances over the backstop plan for the Irish border, which they claim would result in Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK if implemented.
The DUP’s Parliamentary leader Nigel Dodds is also reluctant to see no deal taken off the table.
7.30am update: Farming sectors could be clobbered by EU tariffs, warns NFU chief
Agricultural sectors including those producing eggs, cereal, fruit and vegetables stand to lose out as a result of tariffs which are likely to be imposed by the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit, the President of the National Farmers Union has warned.
Minute Batters was talking after the Government unveiled plans to waive tariffs on a wide range of goods, saying: “Although we are pleased to see that the government has listened to our concerns and elected to treat many agricultural sectors sensitively, which may support farmers who are already facing disastrous disruption from no-deal, it is enormously worrying that some sectors will not have this protection – noticeably eggs, cereals, fruit and vegetables.
“Even those sectors that are treated sensitively will, in most instances, see worrying and large reductions in the tariff rates currently charged on non-EU imports.
“Furthermore, the approach taken by the government to lump products under the same high-level tariff code, for example whole carcasses and high value cuts of fresh beef, means there is a high chance of market distortion for many sectors who are deemed to have been treated sensitively.”
NFU President Minette Batters has voiced concern about the impact of EU tariffs