MPs express opposition to no-deal Brexit in all circumstances as chaos deepens inside the Government: Brexit News for Thursday 14 March

MPs express opposition to no-deal Brexit in all circumstances as chaos deepens inside the Government: Brexit News for Thursday 14 March
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MPs express opposition to no-deal Brexit in all circumstances as chaos deepens inside the Government…

MPs have rejected the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal in any circumstances as Parliament took control of Britain’s divorce from the bloc. A cross-party amendment which seeks to rule out a no-deal Brexit was agreed by 312 to 308, a majority of just four, despite Theresa May whipping Tory MPs to vote against it. The Government then tried to overturn the vote but failed in its bid as MPs voted by an even larger margin to reject no-deal by 321 votes to 278, a majority of 43. Numerous senior Tory ministers abstained in the final vote as they tried to ensure no-deal remained off the table. Those who abstained included Business Secretary Greg Clark, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood and Energy Minister Claire Perry.  Sarah Newton, the work and pensions minister, quit after defying the whips to vote for the cross-party proposal. Their decision to abstain is likely to lead to calls for them to resign or be sacked. It means MPs will now be given a vote on Thursday on whether the UK should seek an extension to Article 50 and comes after Mrs May’s deal was crushed on Tuesday evening. A bid by Tory backbenchers to force the Government to pursue a Brexit Plan B failed. MPs voted against the so-called Malthouse Compromise amendment by 374 votes to 164, a majority of 210. – Telegraph (£)

…with Cabinet ministers under fire for abstaining in last night’s vote…

Theresa May’s cabinet rebelled against her as MPs voted to block a no-deal Brexit. Four members of the cabinet defied a three-line whip on a vote to leave the EU without a deal. Amber Rudd, David Mundell, Greg Clark and David Gauke stayed in the tea room rather than join government colleagues attempting to vote down the motion, which had been amended to rule out no-deal in all circumstances, rather than just by the March 29 deadline. In all, MPs voted to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit by 321 to 278. Sarah Newton, a junior work and pensions minister, resigned after defying the prime minister to block a no-deal exit. Moments after MPs voted, the prime minister told them that her deal remained the only one on the table and that they would face a long extension to Article 50 if they do not vote it through. The prime minister had begun the day urging MPs to vote against a no-deal Brexit. However, after MPs voted by a majority of four in favour of an amendment which significantly toughened the terms of the rejection of a no-deal Brexit the government decided to whip against the amended motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit, producing chaotic scenes in the division lobbies as ministers weighed up whether to rebel. – The Times (£)

  • Tories in disarray as 16 ministers and aides defy the PM over No Deal – while leadership rivals Hunt and Javid back hardline alternative – Daily Mail

…as DWP minister Sarah Newton resigns to oppose No Deal…

Falmouth and Truro MP Sarah Newton has reportedly quit her ministerial position after tonight’s no-deal Brexit vote. The Mirror says that the Conservative DWP minister resigned after defying Theresa May to block No Deal completely. Sam Coates, deputy political editor for The Times tweeted: “Sarah Newton, well regarded DWP minister, has resigned. I understand she was told she could abstain and keep her job, and has chosen to vote against and resign. That also makes it sound like the cabinet won’t be sacked…” She was appointed Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in November 2017. The MP has previously said that a no-deal Brexit would be a resigning matter for her. – Cornwall Live

> Jonathan Isaby on BrexitCentral this morning: MPs oppose a no-deal Brexit and vote down the Malthouse B plan – how they voted

…and it is suggested there is a plot to delay Brexit by up to two years

A plot to delay Brexit by up to two years was underway on Wednesday night after four Cabinet ministers betrayed Theresa May by helping to kill no deal for good. Brexit will be delayed until June 30 even if MPs can be persuaded to back a deal next week. If a deal is rejected again a “much longer” delay will be inevitable, Mrs May warned. On a historic night in the Commons, Mrs May lost control of her party – and the Brexit process – as Amber Rudd, David Gauke, Greg Clark and David Mundell defied a three-line whip by abstaining from a vote that would have kept no deal on the table if the Government had won. The Government lost the vote by 321 votes to 278, forcing Mrs May to give MPs a vote on delaying Brexit on Thursday evening. Mrs May said MPs would be able to vote on Thursday for a “short, sharp” three-month delay, dependent on them voting for a deal on or before March 20. The vote would contain provision for Mrs May to ask the EU for a longer delay at the European Council meeting on March 21, but that would mean Britain having to take part in the European elections in May. MPs are expected to vote in favour of a delay on Thursday evening. – Telegraph (£)

Theresa May issues ultimatum to back her deal or face long Brexit delay…

Theresa May issued a final ultimatum to Eurosceptic MPs on Wednesday night, telling them to back her EU divorce deal with Brussels next week or face a months-long Brexit delay that would force Britain to hold elections to the European Parliament. The prime minister’s challenge came after she suffered another humiliating defeat in parliament, with a majority of MPs defying her wishes by voting to take a no-deal exit off the table permanently. Mrs May had backed a more equivocal stance towards leaving the EU without an agreement.  Mrs May’s decision to hold a third vote on her Brexit plan next week, just days before she is due to attend an EU summit in Brussels, is a calculated gamble that she can finally bring the escalating Brexit drama to a head before formally seeking to delay Britain’s departure date from March 29 to June 30. The prime minister said that if a deal was not agreed by MPs before the March 21 EU summit, she would be forced to seek “a much longer extension” of the exit process, requiring Britain to take part in May’s European Parliament elections. The move infuriated Tory Eurosceptics, but after last night’s Commons votes they are feeling extreme pressure to come into line and support Mrs May’s deal. – FT (£)

  • May to hold a third vote on her Brexit deal next week after Commons chaos sees MPs voting to block No Deal forever . – Daily Mail
  • May’s deal back from dead as ministers revolt – The Times (£)

> WATCH: The Prime Minister responds to the Government’s defeat following the No-deal Brexit Motion vote

…with Brussels set to tell May to ask for a long Brexit extension…

Brussels will tell Theresa May to ask for a lengthy extension to the Brexit negotiations at an EU summit next week, as attitudes towards the weakened prime minister harden after her latest defeat. “Somebody must tell her the truth,” said one senior EU source, “asking for a short extension is simply pre-programming no deal Brexit for the summer.” After MPs voted to take no deal off the table on Wednesday night, Mrs May said she would hold another vote on her discredited deal on the eve of a crunch EU summit where leaders would decide on a British request to extend the deadline beyond 29 March 2019. If her deal is passed on March 20, the day before the summit, she would ask for a shorter extension until June 30. If it falls the request would be for a longer period. “There are only two ways to leave the EU: with or without a deal. The EU is prepared for both,” a European Commission spokesman said after the vote. “To take no deal off the table, it is not enough to vote against no deal – you have to agree to a deal. We have agreed a deal with the Prime Minister and the EU is ready to sign it. The withdrawal agreement is dead,” the senior EU source said, “We don’t see how you get over a defeat of 149 in six to eight weeks. The problem is too fundamental to overcome by just tinkering with changes to the Irish border backstop.” – Telegraph (£)

  • EU braces for Brexit extension request – Politico

…while insisting that without a good reason, the EU won’t allow a delay

The European Union will reject a delay to Brexit unless MPs decide whether to hold a second referendum or change course for a softer Brexit. Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, warned that European leaders would not agree to an extension next week if MPs do not hold votes on the future of Brexit. The move could push Britain towards a no-deal exit. “That is the question that we need an answer to now,” he said yesterday. “That has to be answered before a possible extension. Why would we extend these discussions, because the discussion on Article 50 is done and dusted? We are waiting for the answer.” According to officials, Mr Barnier was told by senior MEPs in private talks that EU elections due in Britain on May 23 must not be held during any Article 50 extension period because the polls would be dominated by “Big Ben tolling and fighting on the streets of London”. Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator, said that he did not want Britain to take part in EU elections under any circumstances, whether in May or at a later date if there was a longer extension. – The Times (£)

Czech Prime Minister tells Theresa May personally to hold a second referendum and back Remain…

EU leaders have begun directly urging Theresa May to hold a fresh Brexit referendum, amid frustration on the continent at the political crisis raging in Britain. Andrej Babiš, the Czech prime minister, revealed on Wednesday that he had called Ms May at the weekend and urged her to hold another vote – with a view to staying in the EU. It comes after French president Emmanuel Macron and other EU figures warned that they would only grant an extension to Article 50 if the UK could come up with a reason why it needed more time. “On Saturday I called with the British Prime Minister Theresa May,” Mr Babiš said in a tweet. “We solved Brexit. I told her that the best solution would be for the UK to remain in the European Union. That is why I believe it is worth holding a new referendum. She refused, but I still don’t think it was impossible.” MPs will vote on Thursday on whether to order the Government to seek an extension of Article 50, but whether the EU would grant one is less than clear-cut, with some member states more enthusiastic than others. A new referendum would require a long extension, with the UK’s own Electoral Commission estimating that a delay as long as six months could be required to stage another vote. – Independent

…as Leo Varadkar says Britain would be welcomed back like the Prodigal Son

The Irish prime minister has said that if the UK changed its mind about Brexit it would be welcomed back “like the Prodigal Son”. Leo Varadkar told Tom Donohue, head of the US chamber of commerce, during his St Patrick’s visit to Washington that Britain would be welcomed back into the EU “with open arms”. Speaking as voting on whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit began at Westminster, Mr Varadkar said: “It’s always important to remind ourselves that Brexit . . . is the decision that the UK has made, a decision that we deeply regret in Ireland and across Europe. If they were ever to change their mind, they would be like the Prodigal Son returning, and we would welcome them with open arms.” Ireland and the EU still wanted a Brexit deal, he added: “We don’t believe in tariffs or quotas, or differences in regulations, that’s what the customs union and single market was all about. I wonder whether those who advocated Brexit two or three years ago — did they really think it would be about imposing tariffs on each other, and paperwork and quotas? . . . That’s where we’re heading if we don’t have a deal.” – The Times (£)

Some ERG figures might reportedly back May’s deal if Cox’s legal advice is clearer

Senior Tory Eurosceptics believe they and the Democratic Unionist party could be persuaded to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal if Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, gave clearer legal advice about how the UK could withdraw from an international treaty. It is understood the DUP is back in talks with senior government figures about what it would take for them to back May’s deal at a third Commons vote. A party source said: “Channels are open.” The majority of Eurosceptic MPs from the European Research Group (ERG) voted against May’s revised deal, defeating it for a second time, because Cox advised there was only a “reduced risk” that the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the Northern Ireland backstop and therefore a customs union with the EU. However, discussions are taking place around a point that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the ERG chair, raised in the House of Commons before Tuesday’s vote, relating to “how article 62 of the Vienna convention could be used”. Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, replied that the UK would have the ability to terminate the withdrawal agreement “if the facts clearly warranted that there had been an unforeseen and fundamental change of circumstances affecting the essential basis of the treaty on which the United Kingdom’s consent had been given”. – Guardian

Speaker John Bercow could yet block May’s deal from being put to MPs for a third time

Commons speaker John Bercow has indicated he will rule on whether Theresa May is allowed to repeatedly make MPs vote on her Brexit deal after it was twice defeated. On Wednesday Mr Bercow said “a ruling would be made” on the matter with parliamentary convention barring a government from bringing the same motion back to the house over and again. His comments set him on course for another clash with Ms May’s administration, with government advisors believing they could “disapply” any ruling he makes if they win a commons vote on it. It comes after cabinet ministers and Ms May’s aides suggested she will bring the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with Brussels back to the house for a third time after it was defeated by 149 votes on Tuesday. Mr Bercow made his comments after he was questioned about the matter by Labour MP Angela Eagle, who said it would be “out of order” for the government to bring the deal back for a third vote. The Speaker said: “There are historical precedents for the way such matters are regarded. I don’t need to treat of them now and no ruling is required now. There may be people who have an opinion about it, I’m not really preoccupied with that, but a ruling would be made at the appropriate time, and I’m grateful for [Ms Eagle] for reminding me that such a ruling might at some point in the future be required.” – Independent

  • An old rule means Bercow could take drastic action on Brexit – Sky News

Jeremy Corbyn announces cross-party Brexit talks as Labour leader seeks to capitalise on Government defeats

Jeremy Corbyn announced cross-party Brexit talks in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s Government defeats as Philip Hammond and Michael Gove suggested MPs should be offered indicative votes on the way forward. Mr Corbyn said MPs had “decisively rejected” both the Prime Minister’s deal and the prospect of a no-deal divorce from the EU as he said “Parliament must now take control”. He said he will now meet with MPs from across the House of Commons to “find a compromise solution”. Meanwhile, the Telegraph can disclose Mr Hammond warned Theresa May she should not waste “time and capital” on a third vote on her Brexit deal if it looks like it will be defeated. The Chancellor is said to have pushed for “indicative votes” on Brexit options in the Commons to establish what MPs are prepared to back during an informal Cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister has repeatedly opposed indicative votes and critics have warned the approach could lead to a softer Brexit which could see Britain stay in the Customs Union. The meeting, which took place in the Prime Minister’s office after her deal was voted down for a second time on Tuesday, came as ministers openly pressed for their own Brexit alternatives. – Telegraph (£)

  • Corbyn sets out new course as he calls for cross-party consensus – The Times (£)

> WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn responds to the Government’s defeat following the No-deal Brexit Motion vote

UK officials reportedly working on contingency planning for European elections

Election regulators are actively making contingency plans for the possibility of taking part in European elections in May if Brexit is delayed beyond that point, it has emerged. Sources also say discussions have been taking place between Conservative central office and the party’s MEPs over what to do if a European election takes place in the UK. While the government is adamant it does not want any extension to the Brexit deadline to go beyond the elections, which would take place in 10 weeks’ time, officials are preparing for the possibility of MPs seeking a longer delay, thus requiring the election of new UK MEPs. One of Theresa May’s ministers denied any contingency planning was happening. At Cabinet Office questions on Wednesday, Brandon Lewis was asked by the Labour MP Cat Smith about the call involving returning officers. “It is simply not true,” he said. Officials from the Cabinet Office took part in a conference call on Monday with regional returning officers, who would be in charge of organising the polls. A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said the government had not instigated the process. She said: “We have not asked anyone to start contingency planning for the European parliamentary elections.” – Guardian

George Eustice: Why it’s vital MPs now vote on ruling out a second referendum

The outside world is looking on at proceedings in the House of Commons with incredulity. On Tuesday night, the Government suffered another severe defeat when the terms of its deal with the EU were put to MPs. And last night, Parliament signalled to the world that it is too scared to leave the European Union without a deal. Of course, every one of us would rather leave the EU in an orderly way with an agreement in place than without one, but if Brussels is unwilling to agree something that Parliament can accept then we have to be ready to leave first and talk afterwards if the Brussels are unwilling to agree something that parliament can accept. Many of those who insist that we must “take no deal off the table” actually have a very different agenda, which is to force a second referendum and reverse the decision to leave the EU altogether. There is no point in having a second referendum if Parliament lacks the integrity to honour the first, however. 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 that if the House of Commons decides to extend Article 50, this extension must not lead to a second referendum. – George Eustice MP for the Telegraph (£)

David Davis: I fear Parliament will now find a way of stopping Brexit

Many will be surprised that I supported the Government’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday following assurances from the Prime Minister and Attorney General. There have been many difficult decisions since the referendum, but we must never forget one thing. The priority is to deliver Brexit and what record numbers of Britons voted for. They wanted to take back control over borders, laws and money and they want to leave the EU on time at the end of March. On this basis I supported the Government on Tuesday – although the deal is a long way from perfect – because the alternative carries big risks. The vote was lost. The House of Commons has now decisively rejected the Prime Minister’s deal on two occasions by record margins. My fear was, and now is, that Parliament will find a way of thwarting Brexit. A couple of weeks ago, the master Remain tactician, Tony Blair, virtually admitted this. Former Remain supporters in Parliament want to take no deal off the table because they believe this clears the path to a second Referendum, and hence to overturning the result of the last referendum. I believe this would be a folly of the highest order. – David Davis MP for the Telegraph (£)

Owen Paterson: Here’s our plan for an orderly no-deal Brexit, and delivered on time

From the moment that Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, published his advice that, despite the prime minister’s efforts to secure an amendment to the backstop, “the legal risk remains unchanged”, the fate of the withdrawal agreement was sealed. To some, that may be taken as a signal of a deeply divided Conservative party. Yet in its commitment to honour its manifesto promise to deliver Brexit by leaving the single market, the customs union and the remit of the European court of justice, the party is anything but. My own local association voted unanimously last month that Brexit, as defined in the manifesto, must be delivered on time and in full. The National Conservative Convention – the senior body in the voluntary party – passed a similar motion by a ratio of 5 to 1, and also stated that: “Another referendum, a delay beyond the European elections, taking no deal off the table or not leaving at all would betray the 2016 people’s vote and damage democracy and our party for a generation.” – Owen Paterson MP for the Guardian

Garvan Walshe: Extension. A short one would serve no purpose. A longer one would bring Brexit’s reverse

A fresh rumour gathers strength in Brussels. People who had lost hope, in the EU itself and (it is said) some member states, have started to think that Brexit could be defeated. I use the word advisedly: not stopped — defeated. They hope for a long extension, enough for another referendum in which, they imagine, anti-Brexit forces would be successful. Nothing will have pleased them more than Geoffrey Cox’s legal opinion that any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement the Prime Minister negotiated to the withdrawal agreement were cosmetic. In law, Cox was right. The agreement was not renegotiated. The reasons the agreement will not be changed provide the honourable case for Brexit. This is an argument stripped of scare stories about straight bananas or unelected bureaucrats who turn out on closer inspection to be elected parliamentarians. – Garvan Walshe for ConservativeHome

Nick Timothy: Mrs May is responsible for losing control of Brexit

The Prime Minister has lost her ability to lead her party, her Government, and the country. We can question the actions of many MPs throughout Brexit. Labour, for opposing everything while proposing impossible alternatives. The Lib Dems, the new independents, and Tory Remainers, for trying to overturn the referendum result. And Leavers, for failing to recognise that, despite its terrible flaws, the Prime Minister’s deal was the cleanest form of Brexit left. Ultimately, however, responsibility must lie with Theresa May herself. She inherited a tough situation, of course. Negotiating Brexit was never going to be easy, particularly with a Government, Cabinet and Parliament full of Remainers. But she knew that when she took the job on. From the start, her approach to the negotiations was ingenuous. She was always sure the European Union would do a deal, and do so fairly. She always insisted that what counted most was showing good faith, no matter how many times it was thrown back in her face. And as Wednesday night showed, she was never prepared to act on her own words – that no deal is better than a bad deal – or walk away from the talks when the Europeans were intransigent. – Nick Timothy for the Telegraph (£)

David Campbell Bannerman: We have been dancing to the EU’s tune, now it’s time to vote on something that is deliverable

On March 13th, if the meaningful vote on the deal fails again in spite of Geoffrey Cox’s legal acrobatics, there will be an MP vote on something that doesn’t actually exist: the so called ‘no deal’ exit. It doesn’t exist because even what people call ‘no deal’ involves some negotiated deals. They may be smaller, bilateral, sector specific deals, often termed ‘standstill’ agreements, but are nevertheless important. As an MEP I have already voted for four such mini deals – an arrangement for British car certifications to continue under ‘no deal’, permission for the EU to sell us their goods as a third country, an aviation deal to allow flights to continue to fly and a road haulage deal to allow trucks to continue to roll. The Strasbourg European Parliament next week will see hours of voting on more ‘no deal’ measures under ‘simplified procedure’. The EU’s chart of recommended ‘no deal’ measures runs from reciprocal fishing rights and shipping inspections to nuclear energy to continuing the Northern Ireland PEACE and Erasmus Plus student programmes. The Mayor of Calais is actually offended the U.K. thinks there will be any holdups. – David Campbell Bannerman MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: Philip Hammond is ready to go down fighting against a no-deal and for a softer Brexit

Philip Hammond muscled his way into Westminster’s ongoing Brexit drama this afternoon as he had a lot to say for his Spring Statement. The Chancellor’s mini-budget heralded the customary round of giveaways at the despatch box, although he roved far beyond the world of finance and dived into the Brexit fray. MPs were warned that their rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal last night “leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy” and urged them to vote this evening to “remove the threat of an imminent no-deal exit”. Leave aside the fact that the motion, and amendments under consideration, can do no more to “remove” a no-deal Brexit than the Spelman amendment MPs passed back in January. Those who do want a no-deal Brexit would be understandably bemused to hear the Chancellor coming out so fiercely against a no-deal, given that he has previously made a virtue of how much he was ready to spend to make it work. In the past, Mr Hammond has boasted of how he had allocated £3 billion to fund no-deal planning and was ready to shell out more, declaring: “No one should doubt our resolve!” Now faced with the imminent prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the Chancellor has made clear his resolve is to do what he can to avoid it. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Shanker Singham and Peter Lilley: No-deal is nothing to be scared of – it’s just Brexit with many mini-deals

Theresa May’s deal has been defeated again and now MPs will vote on whether or not to take no deal “off the table”. But fears of a no-deal Brexit are hugely exaggerated, not least because “no deal” is not what will happen under any circumstances. A series of mini-deals between the UK, the EU and non-EU countries, plus unilateral preparations by the UK, means many of the building blocks for a managed no-deal Brexit are in place. The assumption that leaving without a deal means we will never have a free-trade agreement with the EU is not true either. No deal should not last long as it is likely that both sides would agree at the very least a basic deal with no tariffs or quantitative restrictions quite quickly. Even if such a deal is not reached in the near term, average EU tariffs of 3-4 per cent are low, much lower than the 15 per cent gain in competitiveness due to sterling’s depreciation since 2016. Higher tariffs for some product areas are a bigger problem for the EU, which exports more than £50 billion of high tariff goods to the UK. – Shanker Singham and Lord Lilley for the Telegraph (£)

Brian Monteith: Malthouse Plan B is the best approach for salvaging Brexit and our democracy

The defeat of the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement is no surprise. The scale of the defeat, 149 in total, most certainly was. The thinking had been that she might get the margin of defeat down considerably to give her a chance to bring it back a third time and finally win approval. That now seems unlikely without Labour or other opposition parties coming to her aid, and why should they? This is politics; just as the EU has had little incentive to provide more concessions while the UK government cannot provide proposals derived from consensus across the Tory party and Parliament – so Labour has no incentive to support the government in delivering an orderly Brexit when its primary goal is to force an early general election. What then is to be done for the sake of British democracy in delivering the country’s choice of leaving the EU – and for Conservatives in particular, what is to be done in bringing Tory MPs together that not only delivers Brexit but does so in a manner that restores party harmony? Surprisingly, despite all of the bitterness and rancour, the resignations and threats of resignation by ministers and MPs there is a solution that should be adopted by the government if it can at last accept the Withdrawal Agreement is dead. – Brian Monteith for Reaction

John Redwood: Leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement remains the default position

The Commons motion last night to reject a so called no deal or WTO exit does not change the law. That says we leave on 29 March. Those who wish to delay Brexit need to persuade the government to go to the EU to negotiate a delay, and then to legislate for a delay. The EU so far is rightly asking what would the delay be for and how long would it be. They point out they are not willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. They had indicated they might give a short delay to implement  the Agreement if passed, or a bit longer delay to hold a second referendum. The government and a good number of Labour MPs remain rightly against any such second Peoples vote. The forces of delay have not coalesced around a period of delay with a purpose the EU would accept. Mrs May still wishes to give her deal another airing in the Commons. This story has no definitive ending before the 29 March. – John Redwoods Diary

The Sun: If Theresa May’s Brexit deal doesn’t pass the third time, Britain will be entirely at Brussels’ mercy

Brexit’s only prayer now, incredibly, is that Theresa May brings her battered deal back for a third final vote and that Tory backbenchers and the DUP support it. Every other solution is a disaster, or a non-starter. The PM’s deal is unpopular with both Parliament and the public. But wait until we are saddled with a supersoft non-Brexit instead. Voters aren’t stupid. They will know they have been mugged and take revenge at the ballot box. Remainer MPs are desperate to bury the PM’s deal forever. They know this is their moment. Witness Chancellor Philip Hammond urging a new “consensus” — presumably with Corbyn, who after Wednesday night’s voting carnage appears to think he’s in charge. He will champion a permanent customs union or “Norway Plus”. Either will smother our new independence at birth. Do the Tory ERG group grasp now how bad this could get? Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is ­busy trying to convince the DUP the union IS safe under Mrs May’s deal, a day after his own needlessly brutal legal advice helped shoot it down. – The Sun

Brexit in Brief

  • Will the EU allow an Article 50 extension that will delay Brexit? – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)
  • The betrayal of Brexit is one of the most shameful chapters in our country’s history – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)
  • Donald Tusk’s Instagram letter speaks volumes about the puerile politicos running Europe – Madeline Grant for the Telegraph (£)
  • How the EU is hardening its battle lines against Article 50 extension – Telegraph (£)
  • ‘Like Titanic voting to remove the iceberg’: How Europe reacted to MPs’ rejection of no-deal Brexit – Telegraph (£)
  • Pound gains after MPs reject no-deal Brexit – Telegraph (£)