Tag Archives: Jeremy Corbyn

Brexit amendments: The MPs trying to change Theresa May’s course”:


MPs are trying to influence the Brexit process in a number of ways, as Theresa May continues her bid to get the EU to change the deal.

The prime minister has asked MPs to approve a motion on Thursday simply acknowledging that process is ongoing and restating their support for the approach.

Several MPs tabled amendments setting out alternative plans and Commons Speaker John Bercow has selected three to be put to a Commons vote.

Even if they won the backing of a majority of MPs, the proposals would not be binding on the government. However, they could put pressure on Mrs May to change course.

She has adopted proposals from two successful backbench amendments tabled in January.

One asked her to seek alternatives to the “backstop”, which aims to prevent the return of customs checkpoints on the Irish border in the event that no trade deal has come into force. The other rejected leaving the EU without a formal exit deal.

The selected proposals are below. Use our guide to Brexit jargon or follow the links for further explanation.

Labour frontbench amendment

Jeremy Corbyn
AP

Requires the government to either give MPs a vote on the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on future UK-EU relations by 27 February, or make a statement saying there is no longer an agreement in principle with Brussels and so allow MPs to vote on – and amend – its planned next steps.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s amendments are considered unlikely to receive the necessary backing from Conservative backbenchers to succeed.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has tabled a bid to change the wording of this amendment to delay the Brexit date to allow for a referendum on the deal, with the option to remain in the EU.

SNP amendment

PA

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, centre, tabled the amendment on behalf of his party

Seeks to postpone the Brexit date by at least three months.

This has the backing of Liberal Democrats, as well as the SNP contingent.

Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry’s amendment

Anna Soubry with Labour's Chris Leslie, left and Chuka Umunna
Anna Soubry’s amendment has the backing of Labour MPs including Chris Leslie, left, and Chuka Umunna, right

Instructs the government to publish within seven days “the most recent official briefing document relating to business and trade on the implications of a no-deal Brexit presented to cabinet”.

This has the backing of some mostly Remain-supporting Labour and Conservative backbenchers.

Does the government motion face defeat?

The government may well fight off these attempts to amend its motion.

But even if it does, it is not guaranteed to win the subsequent vote. Some Conservative Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) have indicated they will refuse to back the government.

They are angry because the motion not only supports the view backed by a majority of MPs last month that the government should seek an alternative to the “backstop”, but also a separate move to stop Brexit happening without a formal deal, which the Commons supported at the same time.

Most MPs want to avoid a no-deal scenario, fearing chaos at ports and disruption to business. However, some Brexiteers have played down that prospect, arguing it is an example of “Project Fear”, and say the no-deal option offers leverage in negotiations with Brussels.

Brexit: What’s behind Corbyn’s letter to May?


Jeremy Corbyn has outlined Labour’s five demands for supporting a Brexit deal in a letter to the prime minister. But Labour MPs campaigning for another referendum are not happy and some are considering leaving the party.

What’s missing from Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit demands is as important as their content.

While his office insists that his basis for a deal represents the “practical application” of Labour’s six tests

it is significant that there is no mention of this one: Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the Single Market and Customs Union?

This was a test which Labour believed could not be met and cheekily played back to the – then Brexit Secretary – David Davis, his own words.

Its purpose was to give Labour cover to vote down any Conservative deal while “respecting” the result of the referendum.

Its absence now is designed to signify that Labour is serious about a deal.

On one level, it is astute politics.

EU negotiators have signalled their willingness to have a “closer relationship” with the UK than the May deal would allow.

And that they are willing to be more flexible if a proposal could command a solid majority in Parliament.

Win-win-win?

Politically, the Labour leadership believe they have a “win, win, win” scenario.

Win: They appear reasonable but Theresa May won’t play ball for fear of sacrificing her party’s unity on the altar of a customs union. She is potentially blamed by voters if Brexit goes badly.

Win: Theresa May accepts their customs union proposal – and splits her party.

Win: While pushing this option, any talk of a “public vote” is put off. It’s party policy to keep the referendum option on the table, but it’s teetering at the edge.

But by expressing a willingness to do a Brexit deal, those Labour MPs campaigning for a ‘People’s Vote’ are expressing, at the very least, their dismay. And some are going further.

Owen Smith
Owen Smith unsuccessfully challenged Mr Corbyn for the leadership in 2016

Former party leadership challenger Owen Smith – a strong supporter of EU membership who was sacked from the front bench for supporting another referendum – has told the BBC he is considering his future in the party.

And a handful of others are considering when, or if, to resign the Labour whip.

Some on the left of the party will say good riddance to people they see as “centrists” or “Blairites/Brownites”.

But the left-wing campaign group Another Europe Is Possible – led by a member of Momentum – is pushing emergency motions to Labour constituencies urging MPs to vote down any Brexit deal which Theresa May supports.

Michael Chessum, from the group, told me recently that the morale of young pro-EU activists is waning because the party leadership has not been outspoken enough against Brexit and has suggested the whole Corbyn project – putting power in the hands of members – was in danger.

That said, some non-Corbynista Labour MPs who back “Norway Plus” – single market participation and a customs union – have welcomed the leadership’s stance.

Anti-Brexit protests outside Parliament
The People’s Vote has support among many members of the Labour Party

As Labour’s offer to the prime minister is presented as a serious offer, its terms will come under increasing scrutiny.

In particular, that as part of a customs union the UK would get a say over EU trade deals.

That would, in effect, mean a non-member state would have more influence over the EU’s future trading relationships than any one member state currently has.

Labour supporters of the People’s Vote campaign regard this as the equivalent of a herd of unicorns and are pressing for Labour to put this forward as an amendment in next Thursday’s parliamentary votes – in the hope it’s defeated.

The campaign itself has issued five questions on Labour’s letter, suggesting Brussels won’t buy it.

One frontbencher – Matthew Pennycook – has suggested the party must move to support a referendum, if Labour’s new offer isn’t accepted.

And his boss, Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, has had to reassure concerned Labour members that Thursday’s offer to the prime minister does not rule out the option of another referendum – and that Jeremy Corbyn will be writing another letter, spelling this out.

So the Brexit Rule applies to Labour as well as to the government: Every Solution Brings A Problem.

Jeremy Corbyn promises pay rise for low-paid workers”:


The UK’s lowest-paid workers will get a pay rise of more than £2,600 per year under a Labour government, Jeremy Corbyn will say.

During a visit to Worcester, the Labour leader will set out policies including a pledge to raise the National Living Wage to £10 an hour in 2020.

He will also accuse the government of creating a “perfect storm of low pay, insecurity and working poverty”.

The Conservatives said there had been a £2,750 wage rise under its government.

The National Living Wage is the legally binding hourly rate for workers aged 25 and over.

It was set at £7.83 an hour in April 2018 and is reviewed every year, like the National Minimum Wage (for under 25s). It will rise to £8.21 from April.

Mr Corbyn will also say his party wants to stop the roll out of Universal Credit and ban zero-hours contacts.

Labour says Commons analysis shows its pay pledge would give a rise of £2,640.

During his visit to Worcester Housing and Benefit Advice Centre later, Mr Corbyn will say: “With real wages lower than they were 10 years ago, deep cuts to social security, rising borrowing just to make ends meet and the growth of insecure work, the Conservatives have created a perfect storm of low pay, insecurity and working poverty.

“This rising insecurity, with so many without savings to fall back on, is causing terrible stress for millions of families across the country.

“These scandalous levels of in-work poverty are unacceptable and must be brought to an end.

“Every job should provide dignity and security.”

Research by Labour shows the number of adults living in families where one or more person is working, and who do not have any savings, has risen to 12.8m.

The party says this was an increase of 2.5 million since 2010.

Labour’s 2017 manifesto promised to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour by 2020.

But a Conservative spokesman said Mr Corbyn’s numbers “don’t add up”.

“It’s because of our National Living Wage that millions of hard working British people have seen a pay rise increasing their wage by £2,750, with the lowest paid seeing the biggest pay rise whilst over three million people have been helped into work,” he said.

“At the same time we’ve cut taxes for 32 million people, taking the lowest paid out of paying income tax altogether, and taken action to reduce the cost of living.”

Brexit: May and Corbyn meet after PMQs clash,..;


Brexit: May and Corbyn meet after PMQs clash
Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May clash over Brexit policies

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn warmed up for their long-awaited meeting to discuss the way ahead on Brexit by clashing in the House of Commons.

At Prime Minister’s Questions the Labour leader repeatedly urged Mrs May to rule out a no-deal Brexit and to ditch her “red lines” in any upcoming talks with Brussels.

Mrs May hit back by saying that Mr Corbyn “has no plan for Brexit”.

The pair later met privately to seek common ground on Brexit.

The meeting, in the prime minister’s Commons office, lasted 45 minutes.

Brexit: MPs back May’s bid to change deal

What time will Brexit votes be? What are MPs voting on?

Brexit: Defence staff could be redeployed in no-deal scenario

Mr Corbyn agreed to the meeting after MPs voted against the idea of a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday evening. He had previously ruled out such a meeting unless Mrs May ruled out a no-deal Brexit herself.

At PMQs, he said the prime minister may have succeeded in “temporarily uniting her very divided party” in Tuesday’s votes on amendments to her plan but she had to make “more important compromises” to “unite the country”.

Mrs May said Mr Corbyn was a “fine one to talk about coming together”, when he had only now agreed to meet her.

She said the majority of MPs had identified the Irish backstop as the main sticking point preventing them from backing her deal, whereas Mr Corbyn’s Brexit proposals had been rejected.

“He has no plan for Brexit, no good plan for our economy and no plan for our country,” she told MPs.

Belgium children face DNA tests amid DR Congo kidnap fears

What time will Brexit votes be? What are MPs voting on?

But the PM received a stark warning from Dublin over her future plans for the backstop.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, said anyone who allowed the “borders and divisions of the past” to return will be “judged harshly in history, and rightly so”.

He added: “There are some things that are more important than economic relationships and this is one of them.”

Border more important than ‘economic relationships’

MPs voted 317 to 301 in favour of changing the backstop plan – the section of Mrs May’s deal with the EU designed to avoid the return of Northern Ireland border checks.

Five amendments, including Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s bid to delay Brexit if Mrs May does not get her deal through Parliament, were defeated on Tuesday.

Mr Corbyn asked Mrs May whether, if she did not agree a deal with Brussels that MPs would support, she would back Labour’s proposals for a “a strong single market, comprehensive customs union and the guaranteeing of rights and protections rather than the alternative she has been threatening – to crash out with no-deal”.

Mrs May told him: “You cannot just vote to reject no deal, you have to support a deal.”

It was a message she repeated to Labour MP Jack Dromey, who together with Tory MP Caroline Spelman got MPs to back a non-binding amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit on Tuesday.

How did my MP vote on 29 January?

Enter a postcode, or the name or constituency of your MPType in 2 or more characters for results.

Later in the session, Nigel Dodds, leader of the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party at Westminster, described remarks by the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on the UK’s approach to Brexit as “highly reckless and extremely dangerous”.

Mr Coveney likened the UK’s negotiating stance to “either you give me what I want or I’m jumping out the window”.

Mr Dodds said that kind of rhetoric needed “to be toned down”.

Mrs May said she will speak to Irish premier Leo Varadkar later on Wednesday.

“It is important for us to work with the Irish government on the arrangements that will be in place in the future,” she added.

But ahead of the call, Mr Varadkar told the Irish Parliament that the EU stood by the withdrawal agreement and renegotiation was not on the table.

At the moment, the UK is due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on 29 March, with or without a deal.

Mr Corbyn: ‘We are prepared to meet her to put forward the points of view from the Labour Party’

Media captionMr Corbyn: ‘We are prepared to meet her to put forward the points of view from the Labour Party’

The UK and the EU negotiated their withdrawal agreement deal over the past 18 months but it needs to be backed by MPs for it to come into force. Earlier this month MPs voted against the plan Mrs May had proposed by 432 votes to 202.

Mrs May said that, after taking Tuesday’s votes into account and talking to the EU, any revised deal would be brought back to the Commons “as soon as possible” for a second “meaningful vote”.

BBC graphic showing the number of working days until Brexit

However, various EU leaders have suggested there will be no revisions to the deal, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.”

Mr Tusk added the EU would, however, be willing to look at the political declaration again – the part of the deal that makes a pledge on the future relationship between the UK and the EU – and that the EU would “stand ready” to consider any “reasoned request” for an extension to the leave date of 29 March.


‘Expect the EU to stand firm for now’

EU campaigner

By BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler

After a public shout out of “No way!” to renegotiating the Brexit backstop/withdrawal agreement, the EU now waits for Theresa May to come to Brussels.

Parliament appeared to lob the ball back in the EU’s court last night, by uniting(ish) around a request for alternatives to the backstop but the EU is preparing to send the ball back pronto, with the question to the prime minister: Your negotiators and ours failed after 18 months to come up with a better bilaterally acceptable Irish border guarantee so what concrete alternative do you have worked out?

Expect the EU to stand firm for now and for some uncomfortable days ahead.

Brussels’ deadline is 29 March, whereas the prime minister has a self-imposed a deadline of mid-February when she says she wants to hold another parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal.

Brussels won’t rush to help her with that one. EU diplomats tell me she has to be more realistic.

They don’t want to budge on core backstop principles so no unilateral exit mechanism to the backstop is likely for the UK.

The EU intends to stonewall Theresa May until “the message is driven home”, I’m told.

Read more from Katya’s blog here

As it stands, the backstop would effectively keep the UK inside the EU’s customs union, but with Northern Ireland also conforming to some rules of the single market.

It was one of the main reasons Mrs May’s Brexit deal was voted down in Parliament by an historic margin earlier in January as critics say a different status for Northern Ireland could threaten the existence of the UK and fear that the backstop could become permanent.

Mrs May has said there are several possible alternatives to the backstop that she wanted to discuss with EU leaders.

These include a “trusted trader” scheme to avoid physical checks on goods flowing through the border, “mutual recognition” of rules with the EU and “technological” solutions.

She also wants to discuss a time limit on the backstop and a “unilateral exit” mechanism – both options ruled out by the EU in the past.

Presentational grey line

May scores ‘unconventional win’

Analysis box by Laura Kuenssberg, political editor

Theresa May was heading for another defeat, but she ended up with an unconventional win – a win nonetheless.

The Tory party that was visibly split in two a fortnight ago is giving the impression of being largely united, even if that is temporary.

Yet the prime minister only won because she gave into Brexiteer and DUP demands, by making a promise that she can’t be sure she can keep – one the EU says at the moment is impossible.

This process has for a long time been about No 10 stumbling, often seriously, then getting up again to try to take another step.

There is a valid question – to what end?

Read more from Laura’s blog here, Europe News

What happens next?

The prime minister has invited Tory MP Caroline Spelman, Labour MP Jack Dromey and others who tabled amendments to prevent a no deal to discuss how to move forward and secure a deal for Brexit.

She has also promised the government will “redouble its efforts to get a deal this House can support”.

The so-called Brady amendment could pave the way for a plan known as the “Malthouse compromise” as an alternative to the backstop.

Engineered by both Leavers and Remainers – and led by Tory minister Kit Malthouse – the proposal includes extending the transition period for a year and protecting EU citizens’ rights, instead of using the backstop.

Reality Check unpacks the basics of the backstop.

The deputy chairman of the pro-Leave European Research Group, Tory MP Steve Baker, said he hoped by the group giving its support to the amendment, MPs could “now make rapid progress towards the Malthouse compromise”.

But fellow ERG member Mark Francois warned there was no guarantee the group would back the PM, and said he would wait to see what she comes back with from Brussels.

The PM’s revised deal will return to the Commons to be voted on.

But, if it is again rejected, the government will table an amendable motion – meaning MPs can put forward more amendments as they did earlier – for debate the following day.

And if no new deal is agreed by Parliament by 13 February, she will make a statement and, again, table an amendable motion for debate the next day.

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Brexit: Theresa May scraps £65 fee for EU citizens to stay in UK


By Emmanuel Justices

Theresa May says fees axed for EU citizens wanting to stay in UK

Theresa May has scrapped the £65 fee millions of EU citizens were going to have to pay to secure the right to continue living in the UK after Brexit.

She also vowed to seek changes to the Irish backstop from the EU.

But she again rejected calls to rule out a “no-deal” Brexit – and warned another EU referendum could threaten the UK’s “social cohesion”.

Conservative rebels and Labour accused her of being in denial about the scale of opposition to her Brexit deal.

Mrs May had been forced to make the statement setting out her plan for how to proceed after MPs rejected her Brexit deal with the EU by 230 votes last week – her “plan B”.

MPs are due to vote on a modified version of the deal next Tuesday, although she gave few details about how it would be changed.

Between now and then, MPs will table a series of amendments – proposed changes to the PM’s deal – in an attempt to force through alternatives to her Brexit deal. The Commons Speaker John Bercow will choose which amendments are put to a vote.

Brexit vote: Donald Tusk suggests UK should stay in EU

Brexit: Can May find common cause in Parliament?

Brexit: Theresa May scraps £65 fee for EU citizens

Mrs May promised to seek the views of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – who keep her minority government in power – and others on the proposed Irish backstop.

She said she would then “take the conclusions of these discussions back to the EU”.

She said she was exploring potential “movement” on the backstop that could secure the backing of a majority of MPs, with the aim of addressing concerns that it could become permanent and threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom.

The backstop is the “insurance policy” in the withdrawal deal, intended to ensure that whatever else happens, there will be no return to a visible border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after the UK leaves the EU.

Both the UK and the EU believe that bringing back border checks could put the peace process at risk.

May promises more ‘flexible’ approach

Brexit: Theresa May on ‘six key issues’ in EU talks

The prime minister attacked the Labour leader for refusing to take part in talks with her on the way forward.

She promised to take a more “flexible, open and inclusive” approach to involving MPs and the Scottish and Welsh governments, in negotiating a future relationship with the EU – once her Brexit deal has been approved.

But Labour’s Yvette Cooper asked why MPs could not be given a greater say now.

“Why not put to Parliament some votes on her red lines, including a customs union, otherwise how can any of us believe a word she says?”

Conservative rebel Sarah Wollaston, who backs another referendum, tweeted that it was “like last week’s vote never happened”.

What did Mrs May say about another referendum?

She told MPs: “Our duty is to implement the decision of the first one.

“I fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country.

MPs who back a second referendum say they had a “constructive” meeting with the PM’s deputy

“Not least, strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom.

“It would require an extension of Article 50. We would very likely have to return a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament in May.

“And I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.”

Earlier, MPs who back a second referendum said they had a “constructive” meeting with the prime minister’s de facto second-in-command David Lidington.

What was Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction?

Jeremy Corbyn says PM’s talk offer was a “PR sham”

The Labour leader accused Mrs May of being in “deep denial” about the scale of opposition to her “undeliverable” deal, which was rejected by 230 votes in a Commons vote last week.

He said Labour would back an amendment next week that would rule out the “disaster” of a no-deal Brexit – and he challenged her to confirm that she would do that if MPs voted for it.

He rejected her “phoney” offer of cross-party talks to find a way forward.

Mr Corbyn wants to force a general election and, having won it, negotiate a deal with Brussels that would see the UK in a permanent customs union with the EU, with strong ties to the single market and guaranteed protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards.

If he can’t secure a general election he has not ruled out getting behind calls for another referendum.

What amendments or bills have been tabled so far?

The official Labour amendment, put down on Monday evening, says MPs should be able to vote on the option of a closer relationship with Europe – with a permanent customs union – and also keep the option of a second referendum on the table.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said it was about “wrestling control of this process away from the prime minister into the hands of Parliament”.

Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs the Brexit Select Committee, has tabled another amendment, calling for the Commons to hold a series of indicative votes on a way forward.

One group of MPs, headed by Labour’s Yvette Cooper, with backing from Remainer Conservative MPs, has tabled a bill that would delay the UK’s planned departure date from the EU if the government is not able to get its deal through by 26 February.

Private Members’ Bills – laws proposed by MPs who are not in the government – can be passed but there’s normally only very limited time to debate them. The government usually controls the agenda – what gets debated in Parliament.

Some MPs now want to suspend the normal rules to allow time to debate and vote on a bill that would rule out a no-deal Brexit.

That might not be enough though. If the bill will involve spending money it also needs a “money resolution”. That has to be proposed by the government.

So MPs face another obstacle if they want to take control of the Brexit process.

Why does the Irish backstop matter?

Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics

Under Mrs May’s deal, if there is not a trade deal or other agreement between the UK and the EU when the transition period ends, the backstop kicks in.

It would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market.

It would also involve a temporary single custom territory – effectively keeping the whole of the UK in the EU customs union – unless both the EU and UK agree it is no longer necessary.

But this has been a huge issue for many Conservative MPs and the DUP, who have supported Mrs May’s government since the 2017 election.

Removing or amending the backstop could provide Mrs May with enough backing from Brexiteer Tory MPs and the DUP to get her deal passed by Parliament.

When will the Brexit fee be scrapped?

Mrs May’s plan would mean millions of EU citizens living in the UK would have to apply for “settled status” to remain after Brexit.

Applicants must have lived in the UK for five years and had been expected to pay a fee of £65 each.

“Settled status” would give EU citizens the same access to healthcare and education after Britain leaves the EU as they have now.

Mrs May told MPs she had listened to the concerns of EU citizens – through campaign group the 3million – about the fees, which would be waived when the scheme was launched on 30 March.

The government launched a pilot scheme this week for people to apply for leave to remain through a smartphone app.

Mrs May said anyone applying during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed, with further details to be announced shortly.

What else did the PM promise?

In her statement, Mrs May said:

  • Parliament will have “a proper say” in the next stage of negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU
  • the government plans to hold confidential committee sessions to ensure Parliament has the most up-to-date information
  • there will be “regular updates” in the House of Commons, in particular before the six monthly review points with the EU
  • she would engage “more deeply” with businesses, civil society and trade unions
  • she will ensure that Parliament is provided with a guarantee that protections for workers’ rights and the environment will not be “eroded”

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Theresa May meeting MPs ‘to seek consensus’


Theresa May has called on MPs to “work constructively together” to find a way forward

Theresa May is meeting MPs to try to find a way forward for Brexit, after her slim victory in the no-confidence vote.

The PM saw off a bid to remove her government from power by 325 to 306 votes, the day after her plan for leaving the EU was rejected.

Afterwards, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to join talks unless the threat of a no-deal exit was ruled out.

The PM said she wanted to approach discussions in a “constructive spirit”.

She is to publish her new plan on EU withdrawal to Parliament on Monday, 21 January, with a full debate and the key vote on it scheduled for Tuesday, 29 January.

Speaking outside Downing Street after talks on Wednesday night with the Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru, Mrs May called on MPs to “put self-interest aside”.

“It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done,” she said.

Who is the PM meeting?

The prime minister is holding meetings with both Tory Brexiteers and the DUP – both of whom rejected her withdrawal deal earlier this week – on Thursday.

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said that Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay are also holding talks with senior opposition politicians.

So far, Mrs May has met with:

  • Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader
  • Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader
  • Sir Vince Cable, Lib Dem leader
  • Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s only MP
  • Tory Brexiteer Nigel Evans
  • Nigel Dodds, DUP Westminster leader
  • Arlene Foster, DUP leader

And ministers and senior Tories have been arriving at Downing Street to continue talks with parliamentarians and MPs from other parties, including:

  • Tory colleagues Owen Paterson, Iain Duncan Smith, David Davis, Mark Francois and Steve Baker
  • Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers
  • Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham and a vice-chair of the 1922 Committee
  • Hilary Benn, Labour MP and chairman of the Brexit select committee
  • Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader
  • Yvette Cooper, Labour MP
  • Nicky Morgan, Conservative MP
  • Shailesh Vara, Conservative MP
  • Tom Brake, Lib Dem MP and the party’s Brexit spokesman
  • Jo Swinson, MP and deputy Lib Dem leader

Corbyn’s red line

In a speech in Hastings Mr Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, said he was “quite happy” to talk with Mrs May, but she had to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

The Labour leader urged Mrs May to “ditch the red lines” and “get serious about proposals for the future”.

He said: “With no-deal on the table, the prime minister will enter into phony talks just to run down the clock and try to blackmail MPs to vote through her botched deal on a second attempt by threatening the country with the chaos that no-deal would bring.”

Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Corbyn said the “best outcome” was to call a general election to “break the deadlock”.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was not a straightforward judgement for the Labour Party, as many members do not want Brexit to happen – meaning Mr Corbyn could be criticised for helping the process if he attends.

What do MPs say happened in their meetings?

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said that the extension of Article 50 – the two year mechanism that means the UK leaves the EU on 29 March – the ruling out of a no-deal Brexit, and the option of a second EU referendum would have to form the basis of future discussions.

Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, said they were “committed to finding a real solution” but “that means taking a no deal Brexit off the table and a People’s Vote on our European future”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said he was encouraged by Mrs May’s “willingness to talk about these issues in detail”. The preferred choice of the party is another referendum.

Following her meeting on Thursday, Green MP Caroline Lucas said the PM refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

“I repeatedly urged her again and again to take ‘no deal’ off the table because I think it completely skews the talks because you know that cliff edge is there,” she said.

Mrs May was also resisting the option of extending Article 50, Ms Lucas said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the prime minister was in “listening mode” and there was optimism that a Brexit deal could still be reached.

She said she made a “clear ask” in relation to the Irish backstop, urging Mrs May to address it “in a satisfactory way”.

What is the view from the government?

When asked what the government was willing to compromise on, Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis refused to give specifics.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mrs May would not consider a customs union and that he did not believe a new referendum was “the right way to go”.

Meetings, on their own, are not a Plan B. Conversations, are not by themselves, compromises.

To get any deal done where there are such clashing views all around, it requires give and take. It feels like a political lifetime since there has been a fundamental dispute in the cabinet, in the Tory party and across Parliament. Theresa May has stubbornly, although understandably, tried to plot a middle course.

But that has failed so spectacularly at this stage. Ultimately she may well be left with the same dilemma of which way to tack.

It’s clear, wide open, in public, that the cabinet is at odds with each other. Just listen to David Gauke and Liam Fox on whether a customs union could be a compromise for example.

The answer for her is not suddenly going to emerge from a unified tier of her top team. There are perhaps five or six of the cabinet who would be happy to see that kind of relationship as a way to bring Labour on board. Read full article.

What happened in the vote of no confidence?

The prime minister survived a vote of no confidence in her government by a margin of 19 votes, thanks to the backing of the 10 members of the DUP. Had they switched allegiance, the government would have lost by one vote. Click here if you cannot see the look-up tool.

Data from Commons Votes Services.

Chart showing how MPs rejected the motion of no confidence

This came after MPs voted against Mrs May’s plans for Brexit on Tuesday night by a historic margin when it was rejected by 230 votes – the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

Now the prime minister has invited party leaders and other MPs to discuss what needs to be done to reach Parliamentary consensus on any future deal.

However, she has been criticised for her unwillingness to compromise or alter her red lines.

The former prime minister tells Today leaving the EU has to be delayed

Former prime minister Tony Blair told Today that an extension to Article 50 was “inevitable” at this point and warned a no-deal Brexit would do “profound damage” to the UK’s economy.

There remains deep division among Mrs May’s own MPs – including within her cabinet – about possible compromises, such as the option of staying in a customs union.

Jeremy Corbyn: “The government must remove the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit”

The Times newspaper claimed Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom and other cabinet Brexiteers want Mrs May to present MPs with a “Plan B” on Monday that would include a promise to impose a time-limit on the Northern Irish backstop – the fallback plan to avoid any return to physical border checks between the country and Ireland – and to negotiate a Canada-style free trade deal.

And the Telegraph reported it had seen a leaked transcript of a conference call in which Chancellor Philip Hammond told business leaders that a no-deal Brexit could be “taken off the table”.

Mrs May has insisted she will “deliver on the verdict of the British people” and that she is seeking the “widest possible views across parliament” on a Brexit deal.

She said: “I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not so far chosen to take part, but our door remains open.”

Calls for new referendum

Meanwhile, Mr Blackford has also written to Mr Corbyn, along with other opposition leaders, to urge him to back another referendum as Labour’s official position.

And, in a letter published in the Times newspaper, more than 170 leading business figures called for Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to back a second referendum on withdrawal from the European Union.

“The priority now is to stop us crashing out of the EU with no deal at all.

“The only feasible way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU… politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. We urge the political leadership of both the main parties to support a People’s Vote,” it said.

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Brexit: General election ‘answer to deadlock’


A general election is the most democratic way of breaking the Brexit deadlock, Jeremy Corbyn is to argue.

The Labour leader will tell activists in Yorkshire that only a government with a “renewed mandate” will get public support for a withdrawal deal.

His party will oppose Theresa May’s deal next week, and push for a vote of no confidence if it is rejected by MPs.

The PM is considering trying to win over some Labour MPs to the deal by offering extra protection to workers.

Mrs May, who will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks at Downing Street on Thursday, is also continuing efforts to win over sceptical Conservative MPs ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

However, Arlene Foster, leader of Northern Ireland’s DUP which has helped the government win votes since June 2017, has warned the PM her deal is “already dead”.

In a sign that the party has not been swayed by the government’s promise to give the Northern Ireland Assembly a veto over any new EU regulations introduced under the terms of the proposed backstop arrangement, she accused Mrs May of “wasting time”.

Commons vote

The government has lost two Brexit votes in two days. The first defeat limits the government’s financial powers in the event of a no-deal departure. The second forces the PM to announce new plans within three days if her deal fails in the Commons.

No 10 is now considering accepting an amendment tabled by Leave-supporting Labour backbencher John Mann that would provide for additional safeguards on workers rights and environmental protections.

“It will be seen as an attempt to win over some Labour waverers,” said BBC political correspondent Nick Eardley. “The Labour leadership, however, is unlikely to be swayed.”

Senior Conservatives have continued to express opposition to the withdrawal agreement and declaration on future relations, negotiated by Mrs May in November.

On the first of five days of debate on the deal, former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “I’ve been astonished that she would bring back to the Commons a deal she knows she has absolutely no chance whatsoever to get through, and also with apparently no plan B.”

‘When not if’

In a speech on Thursday, Mr Corbyn will say that Mrs May – who abandoned a vote on the deal last month – will forfeit the right to govern if she cannot get her Brexit deal through the Commons.

“A government that cannot get its business through the Commons is no government at all,” he will say.

Jeremy Corbyn calls on the PM to end the "costly charade and rule out no-deal"
Jeremy Corbyn calls on the PM to end the “costly charade and rule out no-deal”

“To break the deadlock, an election is not only the most practical option, it is also the most democratic option. It would give the winning party a renewed mandate to negotiate a better deal for Britain and secure support for it in Parliament and across the country.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson told ITV’s Peston it was “a question of when not if” the party tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, although he suggested the opposition would wait to hear what Mrs May said in response to any defeat before deciding what to do.

The DUP says it will support the government in any confidence vote if the Brexit deal is rejected, making a defeat less likely.

Critics of Mr Corbyn’s leadership say he is reluctant to go down this route because, if he fails, pressure will increase on him to endorse calls by many of his MPs – and what polls suggest is a majority of party members – for another referendum.

Former Conservative minister George Freeman accused Mr Corbyn of facing two ways at once, behaving like “a Brexiteer up north and a Remainer down south”.

‘Absolute betrayal’

Thursday’s Brexit debate will focus on agriculture and employment, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Business Secretary Greg Clark leading for the government.

Meanwhile, the Japanese prime minister is expected to use his visit to warn that a disorderly Brexit will be damaging for the 1,000 Japanese firms with operations in the UK, including Toyota and Honda.

Conservative and Labour MPs who voted this week to limit the government’s financial powers in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit have said Parliament is acting responsibly in trying to prevent this scenario. Many of them favour a closer, Norway-style relationship with Europe, or want to hold another referendum.

But Brexiteers have said the developments are meaningless as they do not oblige the government to do anything and the UK will still be leaving on 29 March.

Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons, told ITV’s Peston on Wednesday it would be an “absolute betrayal” of the 17.4 million voters who backed Brexit, if the UK did not leave as planned.

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