- MPs back plan to renegotiate backstop
- Theresa May claims there is now a route to a Brexit deal
- EU leaders: Withdrawal Agreement not renegotiable
- But PM defeated as MPs tell her to reject no-deal Brexit
- Yvette Cooper plan to extend Article 50 defeated
- Brexit Plan C – the ‘Malthouse compromise’
- William Hague: EU taking huge risk if they abandon Mrs May
- Sign up: Brexit Whatsapp updates and all-new Brexit Bulletin
Theresa May is set for a showdown with the EU after MPs instructed her to reopen negotiations on the Brexit deal.
Parliament voted by 317 to 301 to send Mrs May back to Brussels and renegotiate the Northern Ireland backstop, but EU leaders immediately told her she was wasting her time.
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, bluntly told Mrs May: “The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation.”
Mrs May was given a similar message in a phone call with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, while the French President Emmanuel Macron said the current agreement was “the best deal possible and not renegotiable”.
MPs also voted to block a no deal Brexit, weakening Mrs May’s hand in the negotiations. More MPs – 318 – voted to block no deal than to support Mrs May’s Brexit plan B, but Mrs May told them that “opposing no deal is not enough to stop it” and they must back an alternative.
On a night that restored some of the Prime Minister’s battered authority, Tory and DUP MPs rallied to her call to “give me the mandate I need” to demand the EU Withdrawal Agreement is reopened so that major changes can be made to the backstop.
The vote in favour of replacing the backstop with “alternative arrangements” represented a major victory for Brexiteers and the DUP, who have been urging Mrs May for months to drop the most controversial part of her Brexit deal.
Mrs May had always insisted that there could be no deal without a backstop, but in a major shift of her position yesterday she finally abandoned her adherence to the backstop, saying instead that the only imperative was to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
She told the House of Commons: “It is now clear that there is a route that can command a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal.
“We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally-binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.
“There is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy, but this House has made it clear what it needs to approve the Withdrawal Agreement.”
Downing Street said Mrs May had three options: to seek a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop; to seek a time limit for the backstop, or to adopt a plan put forward by Kit Malthouse MP to “recast” the backstop as a type of free trade agreement.
Attempts to delay Brexit and to pave the way to a second referendum both failed on what was largely a successful night for Mrs May.
Labour made delaying Brexit its official policy for the first time, as Jeremy Corbyn whipped his MPs to back an amendment put down by Yvette Cooper that will pave the way for Article 50 to be extended for nine months.
Ms Cooper’s amendment was defeated by 23 votes, and a Labour amendment calling for a debate on a second referendum was defeated by 31 votes. Mr Corbyn said he would now meet Mrs May to discuss the way forward, having previously refused to meet her until she took no deal off the table.
Tory whips managed to keep rebels largely in check, with chief whip Julian Smith telling would-be rebel Justine Greening: “We are this close to losing power,” holding his fingers close together to illustrate.
The main amendment passed by MPs last night was tabled by Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, and called on Mrs May to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border”.
Mrs May adopted it as official Government policy – even though it means ripping up the deal she spent two years negotiating – and asked MPs to give her the “clearest possible mandate” to return to Brussels.
Downing Street said that after Mrs May’s historic 230-vote defeat on her existing deal earlier this month she had accepted that the only way to win a majority for her deal was to secure “significant and legally-binding changes” to the backstop.
There were warnings from Europe that if Mrs May does manage to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement she will open a Pandora’s Box as other countries will want to change other aspects of it.
German MEP Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party, said: “The consequence will be that not just the backstop has to be renegotiated – then the Gibraltar question, the question of how much money Britain has to pay for exiting, the question of citizens’ rights, will have to be renegotiated.”
Mrs May is under mounting pressure to put a Cabinet minister in charge of Brexit negotiations after her chief Brexit negotiator raised concerns about whether it is possible.
The Prime Minister yesterday said she wants Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, David Lidington, her de-facto deputy and Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, to “support” her as she seeks concessions on the backstop.
However ministers raised concerns that Oliver Robbins, the head of her Europe unit, will still lead negotiations. It comes despite allegations that Mr Robbins told Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, in a text message that the backstop could not be renegotiated.
Downing Street denied the claims earlier this month as “entirely inaccurate”.
Mrs May said that if she secures a new deal she will give Parliament a new “meaningful vote” on it as soon as possible, and that if she has not done so by February 13 she will table a new amendable motion on Brexit, giving MPs a fresh chance to impose their will on the Government.
Guy Verhofstadt: There is ‘no majority to re-open’ the Withdrawal Agreement
The European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, said on Tuesday night that there was “no majority to re-open or dilute” the Withdrawal Agreement.
He tweeted: “Welcome the UK Parliament’s decision to reject a no-deal & the hope of cross-party talks on future relationship. We stand by Ireland & the Good Friday Agreement.
“There is no majority to re-open or dilute the Withdrawal Agreement in the @Europarl-EN including the backstop.”
Welcome the UK Parliament’s decision to reject a no-deal & the hope of cross-party talks on future relationship. We stand by Ireland & the Good Friday Agreement. There is no majority to re-open or dilute the Withdrawal Agreement in the @Europarl_EN including the backstop.
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) January 29, 2019
Tonight’s amendment votes in full
A breakdown of the results for all seven of the amendments voted on by MPs in the Commons tonight:
Irish Government: Withdrawal Agreement not open for renegotiation
In a statement issued following the outcome of tonight’s votes the Irish government said: “The EU position on the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is set out in the conclusions of the December meeting of the European Council. It has not changed.
“The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation.
“The agreement is a carefully negotiated compromise, which balances the UK position on customs and the single market with avoiding a hard border and protecting the integrity of the EU customs union and single market.
“The best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify this agreement.”
Sir Vince Cable: Parliament remains effectively deadlocked
The Liberal Democrat leader: “The House of Commons has given contradictory instructions, both ruling out ‘no deal’ and setting the Government on a collision course with the EU, ramping up the chances of no deal.
“Willing the ends but not the means for preventing no deal gets us nowhere.
“Parliament remains effectively deadlocked. The only way forward is a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”
CBI: Threat of no-deal is draining money from UK
More reaction coming in, this time from the employers’ group the CBI, Christopher Hope writes.
Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, says: “Another deeply frustrating day for business. Renegotiation is a throw-of-the-dice, it must succeed or fail fast.
“Rejecting no deal is welcome but doesn’t get a deal. Until MPs can agree a solution, the threat of no deal will continue to drain money from the UK.”
Yvette Cooper responds to amendment defeat
The senior Labour MP and Nick Boles, a Tory MP who backed her plan to extend Article 50, have issued a statement.
They said: “Tonight MPs have voted to stop no-deal Brexit. We did not get enough support to ensure there could be a binding vote to avert no deal or require an extension of Article 50 if needed.
“We remain deeply concerned that there is no safeguard in place to prevent a cliff edge in March 2019 if the Prime Minister does not get a deal agreed in time.
“The Prime Minister promised a new meaningful vote on 13 Feb and a new amendable motion in the event that this motion is defeated or the government does not secure a new deal. But we are running out of time.
“She will need to reflect the Commons opposition to No Deal. We will consider what amendments will be needed if at that point no progress has been made. We remain committed to ensuring that we don’t reach the cliff edge on 29 March without a deal.”
Jeremy Corbyn: I will meet PM to find ‘sensible Brexit solution’
The Labour leader has issued a statement in response to MPs voting in favour of rejecting a no-deal Brexit.
He said: “Tonight Parliament has voted to remove the immediate threat of crashing out without a deal on 29 March. After months of refusing to take the chaos of no deal off the table, the prime minister must now face the reality that no deal is not an option.
“I will meet the Prime Minister and others from across parliament to find a sensible Brexit solution that works for the whole country.
“That solution should be based around Labour’s alternative plan of a customs union with a U.K. say, a strong single market relationship and a cast iron guarantee on workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections.”
Donald Tusk: Deal not up for renegotiation
The European Council President said the Brexit deal was not up for renegotiation after MPs voted in favour of Sir Graham Brady’s amendment calling for the backstop to be replaced.
A spokesman for Mr Tusk said: “The Withdrawal Agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
“The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation.”
Theresa May: There is now a route to a Brexit deal
Speaking immediately after the final vote result was announced, Mrs May said: ”It is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House of leaving the EU with a deal.
“We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the Withdrawal Agreement that deal with concerns on the backstop while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
“My colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House’s views.
“As I said this afternoon there is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy but in contrast to a fortnight ago this House has made it clear what it needs to approve a Withdrawal Agreement.”
Mrs May also urges Jeremy Corbyn to take up her offer of Brexit talks.
Mr Corbyn rises to his feet and tells the Prime Minister he is now willing to meet with her.
Sir Graham Brady amendment agreed
Sir Graham’s amendment has been agreed by 317 votes to 301.
The amendment requires the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements” to avoid a hard border and says MPs will support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to that change.
Government defeat: Dame Caroline Spelman amendment agreed
Dame Caroline’s amendment has been agreed by 318 votes to 310.
The amendment rejects the UK leaving the EU without a deal. However, it is not legally binding.
MPs are now voting on the final amendment of the evening: Sir Graham Brady’s.
Sir Graham’s amendment calls for the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements”.
Rachel Reeves amendment defeated
Ms Reeve’s amendment has been defeated by 322 votes to 290.
The amendment would have required Theresa May to seek an extension to Article 50 if no deal had been agreed by MPs by February 26.
MPs are now voting on Dame Caroline Spelman’s amendment which would reject the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Yvette Cooper amendment defeated
Ms Cooper’s amendment has been defeated by 321 votes to 298.
The amendment would have paved the way to forcing the Government to request an extension to Article 50.
It would have seen a draft bill debated and voted on in the Commons on February 5. The bill would have required the Government to delay Brexit if no deal had been agreed by MPs by February 26.
MPs are now voting on a similar, but non-legally binding, amendment tabled by senior Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
The night the second referendum died?
Is this the night the second referendum idea died? Grieve amendment provided a route to a vote on a second referendum but it failed. Corbyn amendment, also proposing debate on second referendum, was defeated too.
— Gordon Rayner (@gordonrayner) January 29, 2019
Dominic Grieve amendment defeated
Mr Grieve’s amendment has been defeated by 321 votes to 301.
The amendment would have set aside six days in the House of Commons in the weeks running up to March 29 to debate and vote on different Brexit options.
MPs are now voting on Yvette Cooper’s amendment which would pave the way to extending Article 50.
SNP amendment defeated
The SNP’s plan, tabled in the name of the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, has been defeated by 327 votes to 39.
The amendment called for the Government to seek an extension to Article 50, rule out a no-deal Brexit and recognise that Scotland should not be taken out of the EU “against their will”.
MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve which would set aside six days in the House of Commons in the weeks running up to March 29 to debate and vote on different Brexit options.
Jeremy Corbyn amendment defeated
The Labour leader’s plan to force the Government to make time for votes on Labour’s Brexit deal and whether there should be a second referendum was defeated by 327 votes to 296.
MPs are now voting on the SNP’s amendment which calls for the Government to seek an extension to Article 50, rule out a no-deal Brexit and recognise that Scotland should not be taken out of the EU “against their will”.
Voting starts on Brexit amendments
The first vote is on Jeremy Corbyn’s amendment and the result should be announced at 7.15pm.
Mr Corbyn’s amendment would require the Government to set aside “sufficient time” in the House of Commons to debate and vote on Brexit options to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
Those options would include a vote on Labour’s proposed Brexit deal (a softer version of Brexit than Mrs May’s, built on a permanent customs union) and a vote on whether there should be a second referendum.
ERG formally backing Sir Graham Brady backstop amendment
Just before the votes start, ERG deputy chairman, Steve Baker said: “We have collectively agreed to support Brady on the basis of the Prime Minister’s promises, especially as regards reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, and that the backstop is only the worst problem.
“I hope we can now make rapid progress towards the Malthouse Compromise.
“A vote for the Brady amendment is a vote to see if the PM can land a deal that will work. If not then we are not committed.”
Ministers overrule plans to halt blood donations
The Department of Health has stepped in to overrule plans to halt blood donation in Channel ports for eight weeks around the scheduled date of Brexit.
NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) announced that sessions in Dover and Folkestone had been cancelled in the two weeks before March 29 and the six weeks afterwards, citing fears of transport chaos.
But the plan was slapped down within hours by Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s department, which said it did not agree with the proposed course of action.
Macron rules out Brexit deal renegotiation
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday evening the Brexit deal is the “best agreement possible and is not renegotiable”.
Nigel Dodds confirms support for Brady amendment
The DUP deputy leader said his party had had “very good discussions with the Government over recent days”, adding the right approach was to support the Sir Graham Brady amendment “in order to give the Prime Minister that necessary support which will indicate to the EU that there is a way through which can command support in this House”.
He said: “I believe that there is a way through the current difficulties in terms of the deadlock, but some of the options that are being put forward tonight through other amendments simply don’t command a majority in my view and I think we have to be realistic about that.”
The DUP, he said, did not want a no-deal outcome, but added: “The idea of taking no deal off the table is more likely to lead to a no-deal outcome than anything else.”
Senior Tory ‘past caring’ what the Brexit deal is
Conservative MP and former minister Sir Oliver Letwin said he was “past caring” what the deal is as long as there was a “smooth exit” and would support the Government.
But he defended the Yvette Cooper amendment from accusations it was “some kind of constitutional outrage”, telling MPs the House of Commons has “undisputed control over its own procedures” and always has done.
He added: “There’s nothing improper, there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing even unusual about changing standing orders by a majority in this House of Commons and until 1906 the Government did not have control of the order paper… there is no need for it to do so in future.”
Dominic Raab backs backstop change, cautions against Cooper amendment
Speaking in the House of Commons, the former Brexit secretary said: “I want to, for my part, strengthen the hand of this Prime Minister and this Government in returning to Brussels and I believe that there are a range of changes that would render the Withdrawal Agreement and in particular the backstop acceptable to myself, but also more generally across this House.
“That could be in the form of a sunset mechanism or an exit mechanism over which we exercise control but with assurances to our friends and partners in Dublin around its exercise.”
Mr Raab expressed concerns over Yvette Cooper’s amendment adding it would lead to “understandable fears that actually it is a ruse to reverse or frustrate Brexit”.
Mr Raab said he would vote for the Sir Graham Brady amendment, adding: “I want to send the Prime Minister back to Brussels with a strong and clear sense of what we in this House will accept and that is the best way, in fact I think it is the only way to get a deal acceptable to this House and this country.”
Dublin: No-deal Brexit will hit Irish economy
The Irish economy could be around four per cent smaller in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Irish Finance Minister has said.
Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe said although the Irish government are hopeful of a deal, plans must be in place for a “disorderly” Brexit.
All forms of UK exit will have a detrimental impact on the Irish economy, with the most adverse impacts likely to be felt in agri-food and manufacturing sectors, the Department of Finance research has shown.
Given Ireland’s unique economic exposure to the UK, the impact would be disproportionate compared to the rest of the EU.
A preliminary assessment by the department suggests that a no-deal Brexit will reduce the level of Irish GDP by around four-and-a-quarter percentage points by 2023, and by around six percentage points relative to a hypothetical no Brexit scenario.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we will see a slow down in GDP in 2019, to approximately 2.7 per cent this year and in 2020 that growth forecast will stand at around one per cent, Mr Donohoe has said.
“If Brexit had not occurred, our economy could be up to six per cent bigger.
“The effect of this is likely to be front-loaded across the second half of 2019 and into 2020, and will have effect on employment growth, unemployment and the forecasted budgetary position for 2019 and 2020.”
Labour: ‘absolutely shocking’ blood donations cancelled
Responding to the news blood donation sessions have been cancelled in Kent in the weeks before and after Brexit, Jonathan Ashworth MP, the shadow health secretary, said: “Yet again we learn of more disastrous consequences of Theresa May’s hopeless mishandling of Brexit. It’s utterly shocking that blood donations in Kent have been cancelled.
“It simply beggars belief that Tory ministers still refuse to rule out no deal, despite the devastating impact it will have on patients.”
EU officials talk down cross-party Plan C
Brexit officials on both sides of the channel have branded the Malthouse amendment “bonkers”, James Crisp writes.
“This is no plan at all. This is simply ditching the backstop in exchange for an extra year of transition period,” said a senior EU official.
“It illustrates that many MPs simply do not understand where we are,” said a Whitehall source.
“To put it crudely the financial settlement, budget payments for 2019 and 2020, in the withdrawal agreement are for the 21 month transition. This amendment wants a longer three year transition for half the money and then tells the EU ‘see you court for the rest’. It’s bonkers.”
Bloomberg reported an EU official claiming that the European Commission and the EU27 had agreed a response if the Brady Amendment passes.
The response is the EU “will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement”.
Blood donations cancelled in Dover in weeks around Brexit
Give Blood, the blood service for England, has announced it plans to stop blood donation sessions in Kent in the weeks around Brexit, blaming expected traffic build up.
Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, said the decision was “ridiculous and irresponsible”.
“Both the ports of Dover and Calais have said they will keep traffic flowing,” he said. “Why not see what happens first before creating worry completely unnecessarily?”
Give Blood said: “We have taken the decision to cancel blood donation sessions in Dover and Folkestone for a 2 week period before and a 6 week period after Britain’s exit from the EU.
“This is because in the event of issues in Calais and other freight ports.
“This could lead to significant traffic in Kent and may prevent donation teams from reaching or leaving venues in the area. We will hold replacement sessions at other locations and we will still be in a position to provide the necessary blood to hospitals.”
We have taken the decision to cancel blood donation sessions in Dover and Folkestone for a 2 week period before and a 6 week period after Britain’s exit from the EU. This is because in the event of issues in Calais and other freight ports, this could lead to significant (1/2)
— GiveBlood 🅰️🅱️🆎🅾️ (@GiveBloodNHS) January 29, 2019
Theresa May to return to Commons tonight
Theresa May is expected to return to the Commons tonight to give a closing statement after MPs vote.
Meanwhile Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, her deputy David Lidington and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will be helping her seek changes to the backstop from Brussels.
Andrea Leadsom hits out at Remain ministers threatening to resign over no deal.
Steven Swinford has the latest update from today’s Cabinet meeting:
“Andrea Leadsom took a swipe at Remainer ministers threatening to quit,” he writes. ”Some said they thought it was bit rich coming from her.
“Michael Gove led those making supportive comments about Malthouse Compromise.
“David Gauke said some Eurosceptics will ‘never be persuaded'”.
“Penny Mordaunt gave a presentation on foreign aid in which she said 0.7 per cent in the current form is ‘unsustainable’. She argued that Dfid needed to move from being a spending department to a fundraising one and be less reliant on public purse.”
EU rejects ‘Malthouse Compromise’
The European Union has rejected claims that the Malthouse Compromise could be used to break the Brexit deadlock, James Crisp writes.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, repeated an earlier threat that MEPs would vote down any deal that did not have the backstop as currently negotiated.
“The European Parliament will not give its consent to a watered down Withdrawal Agreement,” he said. “The deal we have is fair and cannot be re-negotiated.
“The backstop is needed because of UK red – lines and was crafted by the UK and the EU to secure the Good Friday Agreement.
The Malthouse Compromise requires the backstop to be redrafted and asks for a longer transition period.
Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission’s chief spokesman, said that the transition period was inextricably linked to the withdrawal agreement and one could not be had without the other.
“I have the feeling we are repeating ourselves and saying things which have already been said,” he said wearily.
“There is nothing we can meaningfully say, he added,”This is not a Brussels day, this is a London day, we have a vote tonight and we take it from there. “
One European Parliament source told the Telegraph, that the compromise, “looked more like a brew that will scotch talks rather than a fine malt.”
Ken Clarke: A unique political crisis
Ken Clarke, the Father of the House, said: “This is an almost unique political crisis.
“The public at the moment are looking upon our political system with something near to contempt.”
Mr Clarke went on to say: “In the last month or two I have listened to what I – as a fairly experienced member here now – consider extraordinary nonsense about sweeping away centuries of tradition and destroying our procedures.”
He goes on to say it is in the country’s best interest to “stay in the EU for as long as it takes to get a deal”.
It comes as Frank Field, the independent MP, criticised his colleagues for shouting during the Brexit debate.
Labour backs indicative votes as DUP backs Brady
The Labour party has thrown its weight behind Dominic Grieves amendment, which calls for indicative votes on Brexit.
The amendment sets aside six days in the House of Commons in the weeks running up to March 29 to debate and vote on different Brexit options.
It has broad cross-party support from Labour backbenchers and Tory Remainers as well as the Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs.
Meanwhile, the DUP has backed Sir Graham Brady’s amendment.
Peter Bone: impressed with Prime Minister’s promise
Brexiteer Peter Bone said he has been “very impressed” with what Theresa May has said today.
His support provides hope for Mrs May that the Tories will rally behind Sir Graham Brady’s amendment and give her a mandate to return to Brussels to “fight for a backstop that honours our commitment to Northern Ireland”.
She concludes her speech with a rallying call: “If you want Brexit, you have to vote for Brexit.”
Theresa May confirms she will reopen her Brexit deal
The Prime Minister has told the Commons she will reopen the EU Withdrawal Agreement to try and secure changes to the Irish backstop.
Theresa May tells MPs securing concessions on the backstop from the EU “will not be easy. It will involve reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.”
“What I’m talking about is not a further exchange of letters, but a significant and legally binding change to the Withdrawal Agreement. It will involve reopening the Withdrawal Agreement”.
Mrs may stressed today’s debate is “not a second Meaningful vote” and that she will seek to bring a revised Brexit deal to the House “as soon as possible”.
She then says the Malthouse Compromise is a “serious proposal” which the government is engaging on.
Theresa May : Cooper amendment ‘deeply misguided’
Making her statement despite repeated interruptions from MPs, Theresa May warns against supporting the Cooper amendment, which she has the “most profound concerns” about, calling it “deeply misguided”.
Mrs May said it would “usurp the proper role of the executive” and have “far-reaching consequences for the way the UK is governed”.
Theresa May: This is not the last chance to avoid no deal
The Prime Minister tells MPs this is not their last chance to avoid a no deal Brexit, in a bid to drain support from Yvette Cooper’s amendment to delay Article 50 if no deal is reached in the next few weeks.
She wants MPs to focus on sending a “clear message” to Brussels about what parliament wants.
Theresa May: Time to decide what Parliament wants
Theresa May takes to the despatch box and tells MPs: “The world knows what this house does not want. Today we need to send an emphatic message on what we do want.”
She calls on MPs to “reject the amendments that state what we do not want” and support the ones that say what MPs do want.
Turning to Sit Graham Brady’s amendment, Mrs May said: “I too want to avoid no deal.
“I want to go back to Brussels with the clearest possible mandate to secure a deal. That means sending the clearest possible message not about what this House doesn’t want but what we do want.”
PM up – Lidington and Hammond looking extremely glum faced alongside her – she says ‘the world knows what this house does not want – today we need to send an emphatic message about what it does want’
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) January 29, 2019
Bercow picks seven amendments
Here are the amendments John Bercow has selected:
Sir Graham Brady
MPs will vote on the amendments after 7pm tonight.
The ones to watch are Brady (backed by Govt) – reopen Withdrawal Agreement and replace backstop; Cooper – delay Brexit; and Grieve – indicative votes on way forward
— Gordon Rayner (@gordonrayner) January 29, 2019
MPs gather in the Commons
The House of Commons is packed as Theresa May prepares to take to the despatch box and open the Brexit debate.
Meanwhile Heidi Allen, the Tory MP, said she cannot support the Malthouse Compromise because it is “completely and utterly a managed hard Brexit.”
George Freeman backs May
The Tory MP George Freeman has pledged support to Theresa May’s deal now she has promised the reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and seek changes to the Irish backstop.
Mr Freeman had previously indicated he would back Yvette Cooper’s amendment.
Today I’ll be voting consistent with my long-standing position: (1) Committed to honour EUref Result (2)With an orderly #Withdrawal deal (3) I’ll support the PM in trying to find one (4) If she can’t, I’ll support cross-party PlanB based on @EFTA4UK. We all need to compromise. https://t.co/384GzbeHFr
— George Freeman MP (@GeorgeFreemanMP) January 29, 2019
Fiona Onasanya sentenced for three months
Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP, has been given a three month prison sentence after lying to police to avoid speeding ticket.
This means she is not going to be able vote in tonight’s amendments, which means one fewer expected vote for Yvette Cooper.
Labour backs Cooper amendment to ‘reduce threat’ of no deal
The Labour party has decided it will back Yvette Cooper’s amendment, in a significant boost to opponents of a no deal Brexit.
The amendment paves the way for extending Article 50. Labour said it back the plan, but opposes a nine-month extension. It is expected to back postponing Brexit for three months instead.
A Labour source said: “We’re backing the Cooper amendment to reduce the threat of the chaos of a no deal exit. We will aim to amend the Cooper Bill to shorten the possible Article 50 extension.”
Shadow Cabinet has just finished. Understand decision has been taken to back the Cooper amendment and Labour will then table an amendment to the Cooper/Boles bill calling for proposed nine month extension to be revised down to 3 months.
— Harry Yorke (@HarryYorke1) January 29, 2019
Cabinet shows ‘cautious interest’ in Malthouse Compromise
The extra-long Cabinet meeting, which started at 8.30am, has concluded. Much of the discussion was focused around the new “Malthouse Compromise”, which offers Theresa May a “Plan C”.
Amber Rudd, the Work and Pensions Secretary, tells Camilla Tominey the cross-party proposal was met with “cautious interest”.
It is understood ministers are still trying to get their head around the plan.
Other sources suggested there was a lot of “warmth and support” for the principle of Tories getting together around a plan. There was a sense of “this is something we could work with”, including from the Prime Minister.
Cabinet ministers expect the Brady amendment to go through, but Mrs may did not reveal disclose what she plans to say at the despatch box. Bear in mind Brexiteer have made their support for the amendment conditional on her promising to reopen the Withdrawal Bill.
Commons starts with Treasury questions
John Bercow has introduced today’s Commons proceedings, which starts with Treasury questions before kicking off the Brexit debate.
By now the Speaker will have chosen which of the 15 amendments to schedule.
So John Bercow is in the Chamber and I gather clerks are none the wiser as to which amendment he has selected.
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) January 29, 2019
Meanwhile Labour’s shadow Cabinet is meeting to decide whether it will back Yvette Cooper’s amendment. Senior figures in the party have been split over this, with Jon Trickett saying the amendment risks being seen as failing to respect the decision of the EU referendum.
We expect to know the party’s decision in about an hour.
DUP endorses Malthouse plan
The DUP has officially endorsed the cross-party “Malthouse Compromise”.
Arlene Foster said: “The DUP has given its ensorsement to the plan. We believe it can unify a number of strands in the Brexit debate including the views of remainers and leavers.”
Boris Johnson tells Theresa May: reopen EU Withdrawal Bill
The former foreign secretary has said he will back the Brady amendment, but only if Theresa May pledges to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement.
“If the Prime Minister indicates in the debate that she will be pressing Brussels to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement to make changes to the backstop, I will gladly support the Brady amendment,” Mr Johnson said. ”But what we need is to achieve something legally binding – and that means part of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“We can’t have some codicil or letter or joint declaration. We need to go back into the text of the treaty and solve the problem. That is the way to unite Remainers and leavers in the Conservative party and across the country.”
If the Prime Minister indicates in the debate that she will be pressing Brussels to reopen the WA to make changes to the backstop, I will gladly support the Brady amendment. But what we need is to achieve something legally binding – and that means part of the WA 1/2
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 29, 2019
We can’t have some codicil or letter or joint declaration. We need to go back into the text of the treaty and solve the problem. That is the way to unite remainers and leavers in the Conservative party and across the country 2/2
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 29, 2019
Theresa May to open Brexit debate
Theresa May will now open the Brexit debate. Previously Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, was meant to start the day’s proceedings, with Mrs may closing them. The move has been seen as an attempt by Downing Street to set the tone for the debate.
There are no Urgent Questions planned and only one ministerial statement, so proceedings are expected to start after 1pm.
Interesting – PM willl now OPEN the debate this afternoon, rather than closing it – which means she has the chance to set the tone, or to spell out what she is prepared to do right at the start
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) January 29, 2019
Speaker to select amendments by midday
John Bercow is meeting clerks this morning to discuss the business of the day, where they will discuss the 15 amendments MPs have tabled. The Speaker has to decide which amendments to select, soemthing he is only expected to do by the end of the meeting, at around midday.
Yesterday Mr Bercow was warned by senior Government figures that “history will judge him” if he snubs a backbench amendment on Tuesday that could save Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
So far it appears the clerks have given the Brady amendment, which is backed by the government, the go-ahead. Will Mr Bercow select it?
John Bercow is starting Speaker’s conference to discuss the day’s business at 10.30.
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) January 29, 2019
Rees-Mogg: Will back Brady amendment if Theresa May pledges to reopen Withdrawal bill
The Telegraph’s Steven Swinford has spoken to Jacob Rees-Mogg who suggests the ERG could back Sir Graham Brady’s amendment if Theresa May confirms Withdrawal bill will be reopened.
“Let’s see what the Prime Minister says at the despatch box today and what the Brady amendment really means.,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.
“If the Brady amendment is a Government amendment effectively that means the Withdrawal Agreement will be reopened, that’s very different from a worth backbench moment that doesn’t do anything.”
Rees-Mogg suggests ERG could back Brady amendment if PM confirms withdrawal bill will be reopened
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) January 29, 2019
Two more amendments tabled overnight
The order paper for today is out – and includes three more amendments, including two tabled by the SNP last night.
One, tabled by Ian Blackford, calls for “the people of Scotland should not be taken out of the EU against their will.”
Jack Maidment has written a breakdown here.
DUP spokesman: Theresa May must promise to reopen Withdrawal Agreement
Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s spokesman, said Theresa May must give “assurances” that the “Brady amendment goes a certain distance” for the party to support it today.
This includes some detail on the “alternative arrangements” Mrs May would seek to achieve on the backstop – and mist include reopening the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
“We don’t want additions to the Withdrawal Agreement or assurances on the Withdrawal Agreement, we need to have this removed,” Mr Wilson told the BBC’s Today programme.
He welcomed Liam Fox’s staatement the Withdrawal Agreement text would need to be “altered”, but that the promise must come from Mrs May herself to secure the DUP’s backing.
“We would like to hear that from [May] today,” Mr Wilson said. “We will make our judgement then on the assurances.”
MPs to vote on key set of amendments
Today MPs will vote on a series of amendments, which could determine the future course of Brexit.
John Bercow, the Speaker, wills elect which of the tabled 12 amendments are put to a vote. The ones to watch are the Brady amendment, which the government has backed, and the Cooper amendment, which paves the way delaying Article 50 if Theresa May cannot secure a deal by late February.
The day will start with an extra-long Cabinet, with ministers meeting from 8.30am onwards. Expect them to discuss the amendments and the second meaningful vote, which is planned for February.
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