The Prime Minister is postponing a crunch vote on her Brexit deal.
Theresa May was predicted to suffer a humiliating defeat that could not just kill the Withdrawal Agreement but end her premiership.
At 3.30pm today, Mrs May addressed the Commons to formally announce a delay to the vote, which had been due to take place around 7pm tomorrow.
The European Council will meet later this week and EU leaders will be urged to make a concession that could save the agreement and prevent a no-deal Brexit, which experts and business leaders warn could severely damage the economy.
Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards described it as “political shithousery of the highest order”.
The Irish PM and Donald Tusk have been talking…
And they both agree that a renegotiation of the Brexit deal is off the table.
The PM is off to the Hague
This just in from Downing St
As the Prime Minister said in her statement today, over the next few days she will go to see her counterparts in other member states to discuss the concerns that Parliament has expressed.Tomorrow morning the Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Rutte in The Hague.
Would you feel delighted or betrayed if Brexit was cancelled?
This YouGov poll of more than 2,800 adults across GB shows just how split the country remains.
Donald Tusk: We won’t renegotiate the backstop
EU Council President Donald Tusk has sent an implicit message to the PM not to turn up in Brussels with a request to renegotiate that thorny Brexit backstop designed to stop a hard border in Ireland.
I have decided to call #EUCO on #Brexit (Art. 50) on Thursday. We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification. As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) December 10, 2018
Labour won’t table a no confidence motion right away
Labour is waiting for Theresa May to fail:
“We will put down a motion of no confidence when we judge it most likely to be successful.
“It is clear to us that Theresa May will not renegotiate the deal when she goes to Brussels, and will only be asking for reassurances from EU leaders.
“When she brings the same deal back to the House of Commons without significant changes, others across the House will be faced with that reality.
“At that point, she will have decisively and unquestionably lost the confidence of Parliament on the most important issue facing the country, and Parliament will be more likely to bring about the general election our country needs to end this damaging deadlock.”
Labour MPs urge Corbyn to campaign for a referendum
Labour MPs are pushing Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence in the Government and if this fails push for a referendum.
Those who are listed on a letter to the Labour leader include:
- Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
- Madeleine Mood (Bridgend)
- Tonia Antoniazzi (Gower)
- Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South)
- Geraint Davies (Swansea West)
- Owen Smith (Pontypridd)
Following today’s farcical events by the Government, I have written with dozens of colleagues to ask Jeremy Corbyn to press a vote of no confidence this week and then go immediately for a @peoplesvote_uk pic.twitter.com/JmBcLRbXDk
— Ian Murray (@IanMurrayMP) December 10, 2018
There’s scant appetite for the deal in Wales
The latest YouGov poll found little backing for the deal in Wales.
You can read the full story here.
Nearly £100,000 was spent promoting the PM’s deal on Facebook
The Press Association reports:
The UK Government spent almost £100,000 on Facebook adverts promoting Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the lead-up to the Commons vote being pulled, figures released by the social media firm show. The company’s ad library report showed between Sunday December 2 and Saturday December 8 the UK Government spent £96,684 on 11 promotions on Facebook.
Irish PM: The deal isn’t up for renegotiation
Irish Taoiseach has given Theresa May absolutely no reason to think the deal can be changed.
“The withdrawal agreement – including the Irish backstop – is the only agreement on the table. It took over a year-and-a-half to negotiate.
“It has the support of 28 governments and it’s not possible to reopen any aspect of that agreement without opening all aspects of it.”
Carwyn Jones: ‘Shambles is too polite a word’
Here is what First Minister Carwyn Jones thinks of the pulling of the ‘meaningful vote’:
“Shambles is too polite a word for what we have seen today from the Prime Minister. The future economic security of this country is being sacrificed on the altar of her party’s needs.
“This cannot carry on. If the Prime Minister cannot bring forward a deal that commands the support of Parliament, there needs to be a general election.
“If there isn’t a general election, there needs to be a people’s vote on the terms on which the UK leaves – or if the country wishes to remain.”
Odds on the next Prime Minister
Here are BoyleSports’ latest odds on who will be the next PM:
- 7/2 Jeremy Corbyn
- 13/2 Sajid Javid
- 13/2 Dominic Raab
- 8/1 Boris Johnson
- 8/1 Michael Gove
- 8/1 Jeremy Hunt
Welsh Lib Dem leader: Brexit is ‘national embarrassment’
Jane Dodds has this to say:
“Brexit has become a national embarrassment. Negotiations with the EU have been chaotic since day one, but this is a new low.
“The fact Theresa May has postponed the vote on her deal to avoid defeat shows there is no support for her Brexit deal in Parliament. Delaying the vote on her Brexit deal is an unprecedented blow to Theresa May’s authority, but it solves nothing.
“There is no majority for any Brexit deal in Parliament and now no majority for Brexit at all amongst the public. Whilst this remains the case, no Brexit deal will get through Parliament.
“The only solution to the ongoing Brexit crisis is going back to the people. We must give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an exit from Brexit.
Welsh Labour MPs vent their frustration
Many of Wales’ Labour MPs are taking to Twitter to detail the full extent of their fed-upness.
— Chris Elmore MP (@CPJElmore) December 10, 2018
Insufferably arrogant statement from a Prime Minister who has never listened, never reached out, never led. She is incapable of taking our country forward.
— Ian Lucas MP (@IanCLucas) December 10, 2018
Basically the PM has resolved yet again to try to appease the right wing of her party rather than bring the nation together. Deluded and in denial.
— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) December 10, 2018
Speaker points out that Govt plan to drop the Brexit debate and vote without asking the Commons is a discourtesy to the House – it really is!
— Kevin Brennan MP (@KevinBrennanMP) December 10, 2018
It is now crystal clear that Theresa May is ‘kicking the can down the road’ and postponing the inevitable. Her hopeless deal is dead and the Prime Minister is trying, and failing, to defend the indefensible. #Brexitchaos
— Wayne David (@WayneDavid_MP) December 10, 2018
In the chamber listening to a weak Prime Minister explain why she can’t get a majority for any #Brexit. This Government is now in crisis mode. Look at those faces behind! @peoplesvote_uk pic.twitter.com/32HMJT7Ucl
— Anna McMorrin MP (@AnnaMcMorrin) December 10, 2018
A day on the trains for a pro-EU Welsh peer
Former Welsh Labour leadership contender Eluned Morgan, who is also a member of the House of Lords, wants to vote against the deal.
This is a momentous time for the country. Determined to vote down Brexit deal in the Lords. Started out on the journey, then told vote was cancelled so went home, then it’s back on so caught the train, now told it’s probably cancelled again. Utter chaos from Tory whips.
— Eluned Morgan (@Eluned_Morgan) December 10, 2018
A year in the life of the pound
This Bloomberg graph shows how the value of the pound has slumped as Brexit has edged closer.
Daming words from pro-EU former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
He tells the PM that “far from recovering sovereignty… we are about to part with it”.
He calls for a second referendum but the PM warns of a “significant loss of faith in our democracy”.
Business is unhappy
CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn describes the delay as “yet another blow for companies desperate for clarity”.
“Investment plans have been paused for two-and-a-half years. Unless a deal is agreed quickly, the country risks sliding towards a national crisis.
“Politicians on both sides of the Channel need to show leadership, by building consensus to protect both the UK and EU’s prosperity. No one can afford to head into Christmas with the threat of no-deal costing jobs and hitting living standards.”
Anna Soubry: The problem isn’t the PM but Brexit
Anna Soubry, one of the highest-profile pro-EU Conservatives, makes a new call for a referendum.
“The problem is not this Prime Minister – there is no one who can secure a better deal than this one – it’s clear now that the problem is Brexit itself. The only way forward is through a People’s Vote in which MPs decide to stand up for the national interest and give the public the final say.
“This is now officially a failed Brexit process. The Prime Minister has abandoned the most important vote in the House of Commons for a generation because she knows she cannot secure a Parliamentary majority for her proposed Brexit deal. MPs of all sides recognise nobody voted less trade, fewer opportunities, lower living standards – nobody voted to be poorer and to lose control.
“The strange thing is that anyone still believes a better deal can be achieved when the last two years should have taught us there is no model of Brexit that can fulfil all the promises made in the last referendum or satisfy the expectations created. Any deal will be worse than the deal we’ve already got in Europe.
“Another turn of the wheel or a roll of the dice is pointless. A presentational tweak will fool no one and will merely confirm that this shambolic negotiation goes on for years as successive Prime Ministers go back and forth to Brussels in an never-ending effort to make sense of a withdrawal agreement that makes no sense for Britain.”
Statement from arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the forement advocates of Brexit, has stinging words for the PM:
“What has two years of Theresa May doing Brexit amounted to? An undeliverable deal parliament would roundly reject, if the Prime Minister has the gumption to allow it to go before the House of Commons.
“This is not governing, it risks putting Jeremy Corbyn into government by failing to deliver Brexit. We cannot continue like this. The Prime Minister must either govern or quit.”
Theresa May’s statement in full – part 5
The vast majority of us, Mr Speaker, accept the result of the referendum, and want to leave with a deal. We have a responsibility to discharge. If we will the ends, we must also will the means. I know that members across the House appreciate how important that responsibility is.
And I am very grateful to all members – on this side of the House and a few on the other side too – who have backed this deal and spoken up for it. Many others, I know, have been wrestling with their consciences, particularly over the question of the backstop: seized of the need to face-up to the challenge posed by the Irish border, but genuinely concerned about the consequences. I have listened.
I have heard those concerns and I will now do everything I possibly can to secure further assurances. If I may conclude on a personal note, Mr Speaker. On the morning after the referendum two and a half years ago, I knew that we had witnessed a defining moment for our democracy. Places that didn’t get a lot of attention at elections and which did not get much coverage on the news were making their voices heard and saying that they wanted things to change. I knew in that moment that Parliament had to deliver for them.
But of course that does not just mean delivering Brexit. It means working across all areas – building a stronger economy, improving public services, tackling social injustices – to make this a country that truly works for everyone, a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind. And these matters are too important to be afterthoughts in our politics – they deserve to be at the centre of our thinking. But that can only happen if we get Brexit done and get it done right.
And even though I voted Remain, from the moment I took up the responsibility of being Prime Minister of this great country I have known that my duty is to honour the result of that vote. And I have been just as determined to protect the jobs that put food on the tables of working families and the security partnerships that keep each one of us safe. And that is what this deal does. It gives us control of our borders, our money and our laws. It protects jobs, security and our Union.
It is the right deal for Britain. I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people. And I commend this statement to the House.
Theresa May’s statement in full – part 4
But Mr Speaker, if you take a step back, it is clear that this House faces a much more fundamental question. Does this House want to deliver Brexit? And if it does, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU? If the answer is yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this House, then we all have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to make a compromise.
Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate. Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal – including the backstop – are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit. Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered.
And do so without ducking its implications. So if you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks dividing the country again, when as a House we should be striving to bring it back together. If you want to remain part of the Single Market and the Customs Union, be open that this would require free movement, rule-taking across the economy, and ongoing financial contributions – none of which are in my view compatible with the result of the referendum.
If you want to leave without a deal, be upfront that in the short term, this would cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden. I do not believe that any of those courses of action command a majority in this House. But notwithstanding that fact, for as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk of an accidental no deal increases. So the government will step up its work in preparation for that potential outcome and the Cabinet will hold further discussions on it this week.
Theresa May’s statement in full – part 3
The treaty is now clear that the backstop can only ever be temporary. And there is now a termination clause. But I am clear from what I have heard in this place and from my own conversations that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of colleagues the reassurance that they need. I spoke to a number of EU leaders over the weekend, and in advance of the European Council I will go to see my counterparts in other member states and the leadership of the Council and the Commission.
I will discuss with them the clear concerns that this House has expressed. We are also looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.
Mr Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the detail of Brexit, listening to the public’s ambitions, and yes, their fears too, and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I am in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one. It honours the result of the referendum. It protects jobs, security and our Union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually negotiable with the EU.
I believe in it – as do many Members of this House. And I still believe there is a majority to be won in this House in support of it, if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop. And that is what my focus will be in the days ahead.
Theresa May’s statement in full -part 2
The challenge this poses must be met not with rhetoric but with real and workable solutions. Businesses operate across that border. People live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day. I have been there and spoken to some of those people. They do not want their everyday lives to change as a result of the decision we have taken.
They do not want a return to a hard border. And if this House cares about preserving our Union, it must listen to those people, because our Union will only endure with their consent. We had hoped that the changes we have secured to the backstop would reassure Members that we could never be trapped in it indefinitely. I hope the House will forgive me if I take a moment to remind it of those changes.
The customs element of the backstop is now UK-wide. It no longer splits our country into two customs territories. This also means that the backstop is now an uncomfortable arrangement for the EU, so they won’t want it to come into use, or persist for long if it does.
Both sides are now legally committed to using best endeavours to have our new relationship in place before the end of the implementation period, ensuring the backstop is never used. If our new relationship isn’t ready, we can now choose to extend the implementation period, further reducing the likelihood of the backstop coming into use. If the backstop ever does come into use, we now don’t have to get the new relationship in place to get out of it. Alternative arrangements that make use of technology could be put in place instead.
Theresa May’s statement in full – part 1
We have now had three days of debate on the Withdrawal Agreement setting out the terms of our departure from the EU and the Political Declaration setting out our future relationship after we have left. I have listened very carefully to what has been said, in this chamber and out of it, by members from all sides.
From listening to those views it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one issue – the Northern Ireland backstop – there remains widespread and deep concern. As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin. We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time.
I set out in my speech opening the debate last week the reasons why the backstop is a necessary guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland and why – whatever future relationship you want – there is no deal available that does not include the backstop. Behind all those arguments are some inescapable facts.
The fact that Northern Ireland shares a land border with another sovereign state. The fact that the hard-won peace that has been built in Northern Ireland over the last two decades has been built around a seamless border.
And the fact that Brexit will create a wholly new situation: on March 30 the Northern Ireland/Ireland border will for the first time become the external frontier of the European Union’s single market and customs union.
The understatement of the day
Here is how Theresa May described the level of opposition to the backstop in the Commons:
“I am clear from what I have heard in this place and from my own conversations that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of colleagues the reassurance that they need.”
Jeremy Corbyn says MPs should set the Government’s ‘negotiating mandate’
Jeremy Corbyn says: “This is a bad deal for Britain, a bad deal for our economy and a bad deal for our democracy. Our country deserves better than this…
“[The] Government’s own analysis shows this deal would make us worse off.”
If Mrs May cannot negotiate a deal, he says, she must “make way”.
He says she must “build a consensus in this House” for a “negotiating mandate” before she goes back to Brussels.
Preparations will be stepped up for no-deal Brexit
Theresa May says the longer this goes on, the greater the risk of an accidental no-deal exit.
She says that preparations for such an exit will be stepped up.
The PM takes on supporters of other options, such as a referendum, staying in the single market, as well as the no-dealers.
“If you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks diving the country again when as a House we shall be striving to bring it back together.”
Mrs May says supporters of no deal should be “upfront that in the short term this would cause significant economic damage to parts of courty that can least afford to bear the burden”.
She also insists staying in the single market would mean ongoing financial contributions, rule-taking and free movement.
PM says the vote will be deferred
Against a backdrop of jeers the PM has started her statement.
She acknowledges that the plans for the “backstop” to prevent a border in Ireland did not command the necessary support – but she insists a backstop is needed.
The Prime Minister says “real and workable” solutions are needed to the Irish border because of the depth of concern in Ireland.
“If this House cares about preserving our union it must listen to those people because our union will only endure with their consent,” she tells MPs.
But says she believes if she can secure “additional reassurance” on the backstop the deal can command support.
She asks: “Does this House want to deliver Brexit?”
‘We no longer have a functioning government’
The Greens’ Caroline Lucas:
“You can’t run from democracy, Theresa May. PM’s Brexit deal is destined to fail and she’s grasping at straws to stay in power – but it’s clearer than ever she’s lost control.
“We no longer have a functioning Government. Parliament must deliver a Peoples’ Vote now.”
Vince Cable: Labour must back a vote of no confidence
This just in from Vince Cable:
“The Prime Minister’s authority has drained away. It is the duty of Jeremy Corbyn to call a vote of no confidence in the Government, which Liberal Democrats would support.
“After that Liberal Democrats will continue to press for a People’s Vote. MPs from all parties should join us in giving the people a final say, with the option to remain in the EU”.
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