- Watch live as MPs vote on crunch Brexit amendments
- Government defeated as MPs narrowly reject no-deal Brexit
- Cabinet at war over Wednesday’s no-deal Brexit vote
- Brussels will tell Theresa May to ask for a long Brexit extension
- Spring Statement: Philip Hammond delivers no-deal warning
- What is the Malthouse Plan B amendment?
- What happens next? All the Brexit options explained
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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 defeat 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.
Best for Britain: Spelman vote ‘another significant rejection of no-deal disaster’
Rupa Huq, a Labour MP and supporter of the Remain-backing group, said: “This is another significant rejection of the no-deal disaster option which would decimate industry, costing thousands of jobs up and down the country, and cripple key public services.
“Only a small faction of Brexit extremists in the Tory party ever wanted no deal. Poll after poll has shown that a no deal Brexit is unpopular with the country and tonight Parliament have confirmed last month’s rejection of it.
“It’s now time for MPs to take the next step and vote to extend Article 50 so that we have time for the only credible route out of this Brexit mess – a public vote.”
MPs now voting on Malthouse Compromise amendment
The amendment, brought forward by Tory backbenchers, would see the UK seek a short Article 50 extension and a “mutual standstill” agreement with the EU lasting until December 2021 instead of Britain leaving with no-deal.
MPs reject no-deal Brexit
MPs have voted to reject the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal in any circumstances.
A cross-party amendment tabled in the name of Tory MP Dame Caroline Spelman was agreed by 312 to 308, a majority of four votes.
Yvette Cooper forces vote on no-deal Brexit amendment
Dame Caroline Spelman, a Tory MP, said she did not want to push her amendment to a vote but Ms Cooper, who also signed it, has decided she does want there to be a vote.
The amendment would simply reject the UK leaving the EU without a deal. MPs are voting on it now with a result expected just after 7.15pm.
The Government has whipped its MPs to vote against the amendment.
David Davis: I fear Parliament will now find a way of stopping Brexit
The former Brexit secretary, writing for the Telegraph, says:
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.
Brussels will tell Theresa May to ask for a long Brexit extension
James Crisp, our Brussels Correspondent, reports:
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.”
Officials are privately resigned to the fact that the British parliament is too divided to deliver a stable majority in favour of one course of action in the short term and expects a British request to extend the Brexit deadline beyond 29 March 2019.
“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.”
The EU is desperate to avoid the blame for no deal so is likely to accept a demand for a longer extension at an EU summit on Thursday March 21, sources in Brussels told the Telegraph. But a lengthy extension of nine months to a year will enrage Brexiteers in Mrs May’s party, who will fear it means Brexit will be postponed indefinitely.
“We are at a critical point. The risk of no deal has never been higher […] We are ready. The EU is ready to face that situation if we have to,” Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg after the House of Commons rejected Theresa May’s deal.
Read the full article.
Leo Varadkar: Brexiteers have been ‘chasing unicorns for a very long time’
Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said people who advocated for Brexit have been “chasing unicorns” for a “very long time”.
The Taoiseach made the comments to media in the US on Wednesday while MPs at Westminster prepared to vote on whether they are prepared for the UK to leave the European Union without a deal.
As part of his annual St Patrick’s Day visit, Mr Varadkar attended a lunch at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC.
“As we head into the next few weeks it should be blatantly obvious that unicorns only exist in fairytales,” he told media at the event.
“I would say to people who advocated Brexit – is this really what they wanted? Protectionism, borders, tariffs, restrictions on trade.
“Is this really what Brexit was all about? And for those who voted against the Withdrawal Agreement on the basis that they feared that Northern Ireland would be treated differently as a result of the backstop, it must be evident to them now that it’s the UK Government’s intention to treat Northern Ireland differently.”
Liz Truss: May’s deal is still alive
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss has suggested that Theresa May’s Brexit deal could be brought back to the Commons and win majority support, despite twice being rejected by large margins.
“I think it is still alive, I do,” Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4’s PM.
“Ultimately, when you look at the alternatives – which are a customs union, no Brexit or no-deal – Theresa May’s deal is more attractive than those other three options.
“I think that’s the conclusion MPs will ultimately come to.”
Ms Truss said she was “not inclined” to vote for the Government motion in Wednesday’s free vote, telling PM: “I’m going to vote to keep no-deal on the table.”
Government warned against trying to ‘pull wool over our eyes’ on no-deal
Europhile MPs are concerned about the Government’s no-deal motion because while it would reject a no-deal divorce it also “notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement”.
Many Remainers believe the motion is therefore contradictory and does not actually offer MPs a clear way of rejecting no-deal.
Dominic Grieve, the Tory former attorney general, just urged the Government in the Commons to “correct” its motion as he warned ministers against trying to “pull the wool over our eyes”.
Votes are due to take place at 7pm. Many MPs will want some sort of clarification from the Government before then.
Dame Caroline Spelman under pressure to drop no-deal amendment
The Tory MP is the lead signatory on an amendment which would reject the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
But Dame Caroline is reportedly under pressure from the Government not to push the amendment to a vote amid fears it could result in Remain-backing ministers having to be sacked for supporting it.
There is now speculation over whether another signatory would be allowed to push the amendment to a vote.
John Bercow hints he could block another vote on Theresa May’s deal
The Commons Speaker has suggested he could block the Government bringing back the Prime Minister’s deal to the House of Commons for a third meaningful vote.
Responding to a point of order in which he was asked if it would be in order for the deal to be brought back again given it had been defeated twice already, he said: “There are historical precedents for the way in which 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 am not really preoccupied about that.
“But a ruling would be made about that matter at the appropriate time… such a ruling might at some point in the future be required.”
Michael Gove praises PM as he kicks off no-deal debate
The Environment Secretary pays tribute to Theresa May as he kicks off the no-deal Brexit debate in the Commons.
Mr Gove, who is standing in for the Prime Minister because of her sore throat, praised Mrs May’s “unselfish and unstinting patriotism”.
He said the PM “always, always, always puts country first and we are fortunate to have her in that position”.
John Bercow announces selection of amendments
The Commons Speaker has selected two amendments which can now be put to a vote this evening and they are the two expected.
The first is the cross-party bid to reject a no-deal Brexit tabled by Tory Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour’s Jack Dromey.
The second is the backbench Tory plan which revives the so-called Malthouse Compromise and would see Article 50 extended to May 22 and then the UK and EU enter into a lengthy standstill arrangement instead of a no-deal Brexit.
Theresa May replaced by Michael Gove for Brexit debate
The Prime Minister had committed to opening this afternoon’s debate on whether to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table.
But Mrs May has decided to step aside because of her sore throat.
The PM concluded after PMQs that it would be better for someone else to represent the Government and Mr Gove, the Environment Secretary, has been chosen to kick off the debate which should start just before 3pm.
Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, will close the debate for the Government with votes expected to start at 7pm.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that Tory MPs will be whipped to vote against a cross-party backbench amendment designed to take no-deal off the table but will be given a free vote on the so-called Malthouse Plan B amendment.
John McDonnell accuses Philip Hammond of Brexit ‘threat’
The shadow chancellor told his opposite number: “We have just witnessed a display by the Chancellor of this Government’s toxic mix of callous complacency over austerity and its grotesque incompetence of the handling of Brexit.”
Mr McDonnell accused Mr Hammond of trying to “threaten us” into backing the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
He claimed the Chancellor’s argument amounted to saying that “austerity can only end if we accept this Government’s bad deal of a Brexit”.
He said: “Brexit looms large over everything we discuss. Even today, the Chancellor has tried to use the bribe of a deal double dividend or threat of postponing the spending review to cajole MPs into voting for the government’s deal.
“Publication of the tariffs this morning is clearly part of this strategy. This is a calamitous strategy. It is forcing people into intransigent corners rather than bringing them together.
“What we need now is the Chancellor today to commit to vote to take no deal off the table.”
Philip Hammond: Rejecting PM’s Brexit deal increases uncertainty
The Chancellor said: “Last night’s vote leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy.
“And our most urgent task in this House is to lift that uncertainty.”
However, Mr Hammond insisted the UK’s economy remained “remarkably robust”.
He also warned a no-deal Brexit could lead to an increase in inflation.
He told MPs: “A no-deal Brexit would deliver a significant short to medium term reduction in the productive capacity of the British economy.
“And because our economy is operating at near full capacity, any fiscal and monetary response would have to be carefully calibrated not to simply cause inflation.”
However, despite warning of the economic risk posed by a no-deal Brexit, Mr Hammond said he was “confident” that the Commons would ultimately agree a smooth and orderly EU withdrawal “over the coming weeks”.
Mr Hammond said he will decide in the Spending Review later this year how to share out the money from any Brexit “deal dividend” potentially generated by the UK leaving the bloc with a deal.
Philip Hammond delivers stark no-deal Brexit warning
The Chancellor said: “Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the longer term than if we leave with a deal.
“Higher unemployment, lower wages, higher prices in the shops.
“That is not what the British people voted for in June 2016 which is why all of us have a solemn duty in the days and weeks ahead to put aside our differences and seek a compromise on which this House can agree in the national interest.”
DUP calls for money for police, social care and hospitals in Spring Statement
PMQs: Theresa May tells MPs: ‘you should have voted for the deal’
Theresa May tells MPs: “You can only take no deal off the table if you revoke Article 50, or agree a deal.”
“You should have voted for the deal.”
MPs concerned John Bercow will not select ‘Malthouse plan’ amendment
Tory MPs are concerned John Bercow may not accept their “Plan B” Malthouse compromise amendment because it does not have enough cross-party support.
PMQs: Theresa May addresses Parliament
Theresa May addresses MPs, her voice still very hoarse. She joked that Penny Mordaunt, the International Development secretary, this morning offered to teach her sign language.
Chancellor briefed Cabinet on Spring Statement
Philip Hammond updated Cabinet on the Spring Statement which he will deliver this afternoon. He said the “Spring Statement confirms the resilience of the UK economy and the substantial progress that the government has made in repairing the public finances,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“He said that due to our continued fiscal responsibility, and the hard work of the British public, the government has been able to reduce debt while supporting public services, investing in the economy and infrastructure, and keeping taxes low.
“The Spring Statement builds on this progress and sets out measures to support an open and competitive economy. The Chancellor said it also explores how to make the economy greener and demonstrates our continued commitment to support growth across the UK. “
Donald Tusk posts ‘I have drawn you a unicorn’ letter
Donald Tusk has shared a letter he received from a young British girl. She said she hopes the UK and EU can stay friends and draws him a unicorn.
EU could insist on Article 50 extension of a year
One EU diplomat in Brussels told the Telegraph’s James Rothwell that any extension to Article 50 could be “longer rather than shorter” – up to a year.
This would take Britain’s membership of the EU to 2020, the end of the current EU budget, meaning there would not be a black hole in the bloc’s finances.
The diplomat said this would allow the UK time to have a more detailed discussion on the type of Brexit it wants, such as a closer relationship with the EU secured by a customs union. It could also pave the way towards a second referendum.
They argued that a longer extension would be more likely to yield a result than a short one of just a few months, as it’s doubtful that the UK could come to a consensus during such a brief period,
EU27 discuss Article 50 extension
EU27 ambassadors are meeting in Brussels this morning and have discussed the possible British request for an extension to the Article 50 process, James Crisp writes.
Countries, which will have to unanimously approve any British request, are divided over the length and conditions for the extension and there is as yet no agreed unified position.
An extension, short or long, will only be granted if it can by justified and that is expected to be to allow the ratification of the rejected Brexit deal, to give extra time to prepare for no deal or to give time for a general election or second referendum.
In a sign of a lack of EU27 consensus, with some governments, mindful of looming European parliament elections preferring a lengthy or short extension, there are no draft conclusions yet prepared for the EU summit next week where the EU will consider the expected British request.
Ministers will get a free vote on Brexit ‘Plan B’ amendment
Theresa May will give ministers a free vote on tonight’s Plan B amendment, following threats of a mass walk out if she didn’t.
BREAKING: MPs will get free vote on ‘Malthouse amendment’ tonight. Follows Brexiteer cabinet backlash, although No 10 sources insist PM never said she’d whip against
— Jason Groves (@JasonGroves1) March 13, 2019
Ministers threaten to quit if not allowed to vote
A delegation of 15 Brexiteer ministers is meeting the Prime Minister at 4.30pm today, Steven Swinford reports.
They will demand a free vote on the Malthouse compromise amendment and warn that they are prepared to quit if she does not allow them to back it.
They will also call on Theresa May to whip against the Spelman-Dromey amendment.
Ministers will not get free votes on amendments
Theresa May has reportedly told her Cabinet that ministers will not get “free votes” on the amendments on today’s motion, and will face resignation if they go against the government’s position.
Mrs May has only offered them a free vote on the main motion, which would stop the UK from leaving with no deal on March 29.
It comes as the Tories have been increasingly supporting the Malthouse amendment, and Mrs May has been urged to allow ministers to back it.
“Number 10 know they have a problem and will hopefully sort it” a Cabinet source told the Times.
Boris Johnson: ruling out no deal would be a ‘disastrous mistake’
Boris Johnson has warned against ruling out a no deal Brexit, while backing the ‘Malthouse compromise’ amendment.
“It gets us out of this trap, this lobster pot, this venus fly-trap of the backstop. It enables us to go ahead and do a big free trade deal with the EU.”
Northern Ireland will be ‘hung out to dry’ by no-deal tariff plans
The Telegraph’s Europe Editor Peter Foster has been sweeping up further reaction to the proposed emergency plans.
Northern Ireland business leaders warned that they would be “hung out to dry” by plans to throw open the Northern Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit under emergency Government plans revealed this morning.
These include slashing tariffs on a broad range of goods, with only minimal protection for some agricultural produce, leaving Northern Irish business defenceless against tariff-free EU imports and unable to compete in EU markets.
“This ‘no deal’ plan leaves Northern Ireland behind and ensures it would be worst affected part of UK in a ‘no deal’ outcome,” said Seamus Leaheny of the Freight Transport Association.
“EU goods could enter Northern Ireland without any controls or tariffs but same goods entering GB from EU would be subject to tariffs. Norther Ireland has been hung out to dry,” he added.
Declan Billington, a former chair of CBI Northern Ireland who received MBE for services to economic development in Northern Ireland, warned that the moves would inflame cross-border tensions.
“Northern Ireland has not been thrown under the bus, so much as under a convoy of European lorries bringing tariff-free food into the UK via NI, driving past the NI farms that have no export market in Ireland or Europe. Good luck with cross border relations on that one,” he said.
David Cameron: ‘No-deal would be disaster’
Former prime minister David Cameron believes a no-deal Brexit would be a “disaster” for the country, and has urged Theresa May to seek an extension.
He told Sky News: “I have always supported the Prime Minister in her attempts to have a close partnership deal with Europe and she continues to have my support. That is the right thing to do.
“Obviously, what needs to happen next is to rule out no-deal – that would be a disaster for our country – and to seek an extension, and I’m sure that is what is going to happen next.
“What happened last night is some people who have always wanted Brexit have voted against it again, and this is exasperating for the Prime Minister.
“I think she should feel free to look at other alternatives for partnership deals and the like in order to solve this problem, because you can’t go on with a situation where people who want Brexit keep voting against it.”
No deal tariff plans ‘a sledgehammer to economy’
Reaction has been rolling in surrounding the news that 87 percent of the UK’s imports would face zero tariffs.
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if the measures were implemented it would be a “sledgehammer for our economy”.
She said: “This tells us everything that is wrong with a no-deal scenario. What we are hearing is the biggest change in terms of trade this country has faced since the mid-19th century being imposed on this country with no consultation with business, no time to prepare.
“This is no way to run a country. What we potentially are going to see is this imposition of new terms of trade at the same time as business is blocked out of its closest trading partner. This is a sledgehammer for our economy.”
Meanwhile Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “If the tariffs announced today were to come into effect, there would be winners and losers across UK industry overnight.
“The abruptness of changes to tariff rates in the event of a no-deal exit from the EU would be an unwelcome shock to many of the businesses affected.
“If the Government were to bring these tariffs into effect on March 30, the move would also have the potential to cede negotiating leverage in future trade talks.
“While ministers have clearly listened to our arguments and maintained targeted protection in some areas, overall there has not been enough consultation, preparation or planning to support the firms and communities that could find themselves at the end of a sudden shift in tariffs.
“As MPs vote tonight, this is yet another reason why they must act to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on March 29.”
No deal tariffs published
Tariffs will be cut for 87 per cent of goods in the event of a no deal Brexit, and waive through goods from Ireland. Cars imported from the EU would face a 10.6 per cent levy.
Here are the planned tariffs in full:
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