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MPS HAVE HELD a crucial vote on whether to back a no-deal Brexit.

They voted against it in the end, but it was a confusing path to get there.

It’s important to remember that even though they’ve voted against a no-deal Brexit, that that isn’t a legally binding decision.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons yesterday that without a deal, the default position is still leaving on the 29 March without a deal.

Here are the highlights from today:

  • The UK government published its no-deal Brexit plans, saying that there would be no tariffs on goods going from Ireland to Northern Ireland
  • Two amendments were selected for a vote tonight to May’s deal; there was an attempt to withdraw one of those: the Spelman amendment 
  • The Spelman amendment was moved and passed – it ruled out a no-deal Brexit at any time. Another amendment by Brexiteers was resoundingly defeated
  • The motion, changed by the Spelman amendment, was then approved by 321 votes to 278 votes – a vote against a no-deal Brexit in any circumstances.
  • A number of Ministers abstained after being instructed to vote against the Spelman amended motion. It’s uncertain whether they’ll have to resign now.

Stay with us as we bring you the final result, reaction to it and what it means.

It’s Seán Murray here with you this afternoon and feel free to get in touch by commenting below, emailing sean@thejournal.ie, or tweeting me at @seanmjourno.

First, let’s catch you up with what’s been happening already today…

After the latest crushing defeat for Theresa May last night, the UK government published its plans for trade in the event of a no-deal Brexit early this morning.

It says there will be no new checks or controls on goods moving from Ireland to Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

No import tariffs will apply to such goods in the immediate aftermath of a 29 March exit.

However, tariffs will apply to goods on the way into mainland UK. 

And it is these tariffs on the likes of beef, lamb and poultry that have caused dismay in Ireland. 

Irish Farmers’ Association Joe Healy said the beef industry, in particular, “will not survive the kind of tariffs being talked about”.

“We export over 50% of our beef to the UK.  If this is subject to tariffs, it will be a ‘direct hit’ of almost €800m on the sector,” he said. 

From midday, Brexit was the topic of debate in both the House of Commons and in the Dáil when leaders questions got under way.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin asked about the tariff proposals from the UK government, saying it would be devastating for the Irish economy.

With the Taoiseach in Washington, Tánaiste Simon Coveney acknowledged that tariffs would be ”damaging to businesses, farmers and consumers, whether in Ireland or the UK”.

He added the government will study any proposals carefully.

Coveney was also pressed by Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane, and was asked to give concrete answers to businesses and farmers in Ireland now a no-deal Brexit looks ever more likely.

Simon Coveney said Ireland has shown a willingness to be flexible and to take into account the political challenges in Westminster. “It hasn’t been enough,” he said, adding that it is now up to the British political system to try to find a way of resolving its own issues.

Speaking of the British resolving their own issues, Theresa May arrived at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon having not yet resolved the issue of her sore throat.

Anyone who watched parliament yesterday would have noted that May very clearly had a sore throat and it sounded even worse today.

But that didn’t stop her being combative as she traded the usual barbs with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Prime Minister's Questions Source: House of Commons/PA Images

Actually, even Corbyn expressed sympathy for May as she attempted to reply through her strained voice. 

But the sympathy didn’t last long. 

Brexit Source: House of Commons

They had a go at each other for quite a while, but it varied very little.

May did confirm that she would vote against leaving the EU with no deal on 29 March and accused Corbyn of having nothing to offer to the country.

The Labour leader meanwhile, told the prime minister her “deal is dead” and that she must seek to compromise now it was clear her withdrawal agreement would never get through parliament. 

This was a strange one this morning.

A key blow to any chance of May’s deal getting through yesterday was getting a seal of approval from the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.

Crucially, he said her new concessions from the EU didn’t materially change the withdrawal agreement.

The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said this morning that Cox didn’t get to see May’s revised deal until 1am on Tuesday morning.

However, the always sharp Virgin Media News political correspondent Gav Reilly then pointed out that the actual deal had been published several hours before at 10pm Monday on night.

So how will things progress this evening?

MPs are due to start debating whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal at 3.30pm today.

Theresa May – voice permitting – will begin that debate which will last until 7pm when MPs are due to vote.

Despite the House of Commons so far being unable to really agree on anything, it is widely expected that MPs will vote comprehensively against a no deal.

no deal motion

There’s a lot of talk going around about the Malthouse plan today which has the support of a number of May’s ministers, Brexiteers and former remainers… but what is it?

It’s an amendment to the motion that’s being voted on today that is effectively a “managed no deal”. 

Under such proposals, the UK would remain aligned to the EU’s trade laws and rules for a period of two years. 

After that, it would refer to World Trade Organization terms. 

The support for Malthouse among Brexiteers is totally at odds with the EU, which has repeatedly refused the idea of letting the UK leave without a deal but also retaining the benefits of membership for a period.

Looking across the water now, and it’s a fine looking morning Stateside with our political correspondent Christina Finn on site in Washington for Leo Varadkar’s customary St Patrick’s Day visit.

It wouldn’t have been unexpected but nevertheless still disappointing when the Taoiseach got WiFi on his phone back and found out that May’s deal had been crushed again in the House of Commons.

He’s due to speak at a US Chamber of Commerce event at 4pm today our time, and we’ll update you on what he has to say then.

May has stopped speaking in the House of Commons for now, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been providing updates on the UK economy for the coming year.

Philip Hammond has said that lifting Brexit uncertainty is parliament’s “most urgent task” as he slashed the growth predictions for the UK economy for 2019 from 1.6% to 1.2%. 

philip hammond

So, back to the tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Just as a reminder, the UK government has said there will be no new checks or controls on goods moving from Ireland to Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane told the Dáil it was ironic that the UK was making a special case for Northern Ireland in tariff terms, given the derision so many in parliament had for the Irish backstop.

It’s official Labour policy to back a second referendum now, but former prime minister Tony Blair has been among those calling for one for some time.

In this video this afternoon, he says there will be “no closure” for people without another referendum given how disastrously Brexit has been handled in the House of Commons.

The Guardian’s Lisa O’Carroll, meanwhile, dug deep into the info provided by the UK government on tariffs and found that imports of underwear will go up 12% under the new regime.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has sent in a statement following the tariffs news this morning, and it is clear they’re worried how it could affect jobs here in Ireland.

Its general secretary Patricia King has said the government should adopt measures to protect and families from the impact of the tariff system the UK has announced in the event of a no-deal as a matter of urgency.

King said: ‘The Government also needs to adopt specific measures to minimise the impact of tariffs on low-paid workers and low-income households.

The Low Pay Commission warns that the negative impacts of Brexit are likely to be fall disproportionately on low-skilled workers and low-income households. Special provision needs to be made for these citizens.

Although it appears likely Brexit will now be delayed, those countdown clocks on every news bulletin do serve as a reminder that the UK is actually due to leave the EU in just a couple of weeks’ time on 29 March. 

It is this that makes advice like this from the Department of Health in the last few minutes all the more pertinent. 

From the EU’s side, there is the feeling that there is nothing more that Brussels can do to help the beleaguered May after her vote was defeated last night.

Earlier today, a spokesman for Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said he regretted the result, but warned that from Brussels’ viewpoint “it is difficult to see what more we can do”.

“With only 17 days left to 29 March, today’s vote has significantly increased the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” the spokesman said.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier echoed the view, saying there was nothing more Brussels could do.

“The EU has done everything it can to help get the Withdrawal Agreement over the line. The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our ‘no-deal’ preparations are now more important than ever before,” Barnier tweeted.

This piece from Guardian columnist Marina Hyde is getting shared a lot on Twitter at the moment. 

It contains this quote from Conservative backbencher Steve Double which is one I do admit I missed last night. 

“This is a turd of a deal,” he intoned to the House of Commons, “which has now been taken away and polished, and is now a polished turd. But it might be the best turd that we’ve got.”

There is some degree of surprise to the tone taken by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his speech to the Commons following May.

Ostensibly, he’s a close supporter of May and enjoys the most senior position in his Cabinet.

But he used his speech today to call for a softer Brexit than the one the prime minister has been advocating. 

It is this kind of softer Brexit that the Labour party has been advocating for.

But shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett has been speaking to the BBC this afternoon and bemoaning the Conservatives’ refusal to “tango”. 

“It takes two to tango and the fact is the government won’t tango,” Trickett says. 

The UK government may not have taken Labour to tango, but we do know Theresa May likes a boogie herself.

Conservative Party annual conference 2018 Source: Victoria Jones/PA Images

Another take on the whole mess courtesy of European Parliament’s lead Brexit spokesperson Guy Verhofstadt.

He’s comment on a letter shared by Donald Tusk – European Council president – on Instagram.

“Sometimes it takes a child to put everything in perspective,” he says. “What a terrible waste #Brexit is.”

Snap poll: Do you think MPs will vote to back leaving the EU without a deal this evening?


Poll Results:

No (722)
Yes (330)


As businesses here fear the impact of Brexit – particularly a no-deal Brexit – employers in the UK are similarly exasperated with the goings-on at Westminster.

In a statement this afternoon, Carolyn Fairbairn from employers’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry, slammed the politicians’ handling of Brexit.

“It’s time for parliament to stop this circus,” Fairbairn says.

“A new approach is needed by all parties. Jobs and livelihoods depend on it. Extending Article 50 to close the door on a March no-deal is now urgent.”

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which represents thousands of firms, also insisted that a “no deal” exit had to be avoided.

The rumours continue to swirl around Westminster about what exactly each Brexit faction is planning.

The Sun’s political editor is saying that Brexiteers are planning to table an amendment to rule out a 2nd referendum ahead of the vote to extend Brexit tomorrow.

Sinn Féin has been having its say this afternoon on the Westminster goings-on.

And they’ve unsurprisingly attacking the DUP for its policies on Brexit. 

Its deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said: “I’ve just been speaking to business and farming leaders and it is clear that there is a growing sense of alarm at where this process is heading.

That is where the DUP have taken us. They have consistently shown a callous disregard for the people who live here. Later today, they have said they will vote to increase the likelihood of a No-deal crash. In so doing they are threatening the economic future of us all.

BBC reporting that Downing Street has said that MPs will get a free vote on the aforementioned Malthouse Compromise – which Brexiteers favour but the EU has said isn’t a runner whatsoever.

To re-cap, it’ll mean the UK leaves with a no-deal on 29 March, keeps EU rules for two years and then reverts to WTO arrangements.

For this to happen though, it’ll need for the EU to also agree to it. Which it hasn’t. And has said it won’t. 

This should be fun. 

That’s it from me for now, but I leave you in the more-than-capable hands of my colleague Gráinne Ní Aodha for the rest of the afternoon as the no-deal debate gets under way shortly in the House of Commons.

Hello everyone, Gráinne Ní Aodha here. Welcome to the chaos that is the UK parliament trying to decide how they should leave the EU.

Michael Gove Source: House of Commons

Michael Gove, as promised, is answering questions in the House of Commons now on Theresa May’s behalf. You’d assume that she’s resting her voice after a day and a half of struggling to debate with a sore throat.

He’s chiding MPs for not voting for May’s deal last night.

All of the choices left, are “less attractive than the Prime Minister’s deal”, he says, adding that leaving without a deal would subject the UK to a number of constitutional and legal challenges.

Here are the amendments that will be voted on tonight, which have just been selected by the House Speaker John Bercow.

(a)

Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship.”

(f)

…notes the steps taken by the Government, the EU and its Member States to minimise any disruption that may occur should the UK leave the EU without an agreed Withdrawal Agreement and proposes that the Government should build on this work as follows:

“1. That the Government should publish the UK’s Day One Tariff Schedules immediately;

“2. To allow businesses to prepare for the operation of those tariffs, that the Government should seek an extension of the Article 50 process to 10.59pm on 22 May 2019, at which point the UK would leave the EU;

“3. Thereafter, in a spirit of co-operation and in order to begin discussions on the Future Relationship, the Government should offer a further set of mutual standstill agreements with the EU and Member States for an agreed period ending no later than 30 December 2021, during which period the UK would pay an agreed sum equivalent to its net EU contributions and satisfy its other public international law obligations; and

“4. The Government should unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK.”

Dominic Grieve, a barrister and a Tory MP, says he has no reason not to vote for the motion tonight, which rules out a no-deal Brexit. 

He said that this would mean they would need to request an extension, and that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to be altered to change the leave date within May’s Brexit deal.

Gove wholeheartedly agrees with that analysis.

Michael Gove is outlining how a no-deal Brexit could hit businesses and trading relationships if they were to leave on 29 March.

Michael Gove 2

He talks about “dynamic alignment“, which is a period by which the UK would adopt EU rules for 9 months starting from a 29 March, in order to allow the UK government and businesses time to adapt to new rules. Gove dismisses this as they would be rule-takers without any say in what those rules are.

He warns that a very low number of businesses are prepared to trade in a no-deal Brexit environment. 

Gove has just said that direct rule could return to Northern Ireland if MPs vote for a no-deal tonight.

Michael Gove 3 Source: House of Commons

Lady Hermon, an Independent MP for North Down speaks about the vulnerability of Northern Ireland in a no-deal Brexit.

Gove adds that there would be “particular pressures” on Northern Ireland.

David Sterling’s warning is referenced, and Gove calls him “esteemed” but adds that a restored Stormont Executive is possible. 

If the UK voted for a no-deal, “we’d have to start formal engagement with the Irish government, for arrangements for providing strengthened decision making in the event of that outcome.

“And that would include the very real possibility of imposing a form of direct rule. Now that is a grave step, and experience shows is that it would be very hard to return from that step, especially difficult in no-deal.”

“This House has been very good at saying no – but it’s now ‘Make your mind up time’.”

- Gove getting a bit annoyed with his parliamentary colleagues there.

On this point here, John Bercow was asked if a third vote would be “out of order”.

He responded by saying that there is historical precedence for allowing for another vote.

“There is no ruling required now, but a ruling might at some point in the future be required,” he said.

Gove responded that after last night’s result, there is a series of unpalatable choices, and that the House needs to decide what it wants.

Labour’s Keir Starmer has said that the position in Ireland has been treated “casually”, as “if it’s all about a technical question about a line in the road”.

“The technicalities of the politics of Ireland goes way beyond the customs union and the single market, he adds.

He also says that he’s also concerned that because of what was said in the referendum, “there’s now a license to pretend that real risks and real outcomes won’t happen”. 

“The people of Ireland know that the open border is the manifestation of peace”

- Keir Starmer on Brexit and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Steve Baker of the ERG group, tweeted this out:

In the document, it says:

“The Irish border issue will be solved by administrative measures without need for a backstop – as all parties have promised in the event of no deal.

“The UK, Ireland and EU have all given assurances that if the UK leaves without a Withdrawal Agreement they will not introduce infrastructure or checks on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

The document doesn’t state how they will avoid a hard border if different rules exist in the two jurisdictions. 

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury Hon Elizabeth Truss told the BBC that the no-deal trade plans announced today are arrangements to deal with the “immediate no-deal issue”, and that they would work towards and agreement with the EU.

She also said, illuminatingly, when asked where checks would take place:

There are checks going into the UK from Northern Ireland, is my understanding under these proposals.

Just a reminder that if you want to draw my attention to something we’ve missed, you can email me at grainne@thejournal.ie, or send me a tweet @GAodha.

Feel free to leave your Brexit analogies and metaphors in the comment section below.

Those no-deal 0% tariffs from goods traavelling from Ireland to Northern Ireland aren’t as grand a gesture as they may seem, says Aodhán Connolly of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

He says that such an arrangement would be “a goldmine for criminals”, and could turn Northern Ireland into “the Wild West of the UK”.

The UK can’t just “piss about for a few more months without aim or direction,” says Seb Dance, a Labour MEP, and also says that’s the general #mood in Strasbourg.

Here we go: the Taoiseach’s take on the latest Brexit madness. Quite pointed.

“We are ready to deal with no deal,” Varadkar says.

 

On tariffs, the Taoiseach says:

“First of all, there is a supreme irony that the proposals today propose to treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to customs.”

He says that many who voted against the backstop and the Withdrawal Agreement did so because they feared Northern Ireland being treated differently to Great Britain.

The

Echoing comments made by EU negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday, Leo Varadkar reiterated that there would be no transition period in a no-deal Brexit.

He also says Ireland is prepared for Brexit, as much as it can be.

The Taoiseach was asked about the letter sent by a British child to Donald Tusk, which had a unicorn at the end of it. A leading question, but nonetheless his answer was:

A lot of people who have advocated for Brexit have been chasing unicorns for a very long time. As we head in to the next few weeks it should be patently obvious that unicorns only exist in fairytales. 

He asks those who advocated for Brexit to think: “Is this what they wanted? Protectionism, tariffs, borders, restrictions on trade…”

He said that the UK’s no-deal proposals are only workable in the short term, and “inevitably, it would mean that Northern Ireland would become a back door” to the EU single market.

He said that after a few months, it would lead for the need for checks at Northern Ireland’s ports.

“Those who opposed the Agreement may find that something very akin to the backstop is applied by the UK government in only a few weeks’ time.”

While the Taoiseach has been making his position on these proposals known in the US, this drama is unfolding.

One of the amendments has been tabled by Spelman (a), but she has tried to withdraw it. John Bercow refused her request to withdraw it, and said others can “move the motion”, meaning activating it so that it can be voted on.

Despite Theresa May’s statement last night saying that there would be a free vote, Tory MPs will be whipped (or instructed how to vote) on the Spelman amendment. 

Cabinet members want to support it, but would break the whip in place if they did, so Spelman wants it withdrawn.

Here’s what that amendment means:

Prime Ministers motion: That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.

Spelman amendment: Line 1, leave out from “House” to end and add “rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship.”

The latest on that pesky Spelman motion.

Caroline Spelman herself has spoken to Sky News there and given the following as her reasons for not moving her amendment:

“If people vote for the Prime Minister motion in large numbers, it would reveal “the true extent of the Parliament majority against a no-deal Brexit”.

Spelman’s amendment says something very similar to the Prime Minister’s motion, calling to rule out a no-deal Brexit on 29 March, but says it in much more certain terms.

Other signatories to the amendment can move on the amendment. 

Mary Lou

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald is in the US at the moment, and has echoed the Taoiseach’s statement from earlier:

“There is huge contradiction running through [the UK's] analysis at this point – on one hand they say there can’t be an exceptionality about the North… they reject that analysis, and on the next breath they produce a scheme that is unworkable and is a fantasy but which itself makes a distinction around the north of Ireland.”

“I don’t think that has the status even of a plan… it’s not a runner. It’s unworkable. And I suspect those that put this scheme together realise that.

It’s a source of some alarm that even at this eleventh hour the British are still playing a game of chicken… I think they need to stop that. I think they need to act now with some sense of honour, and they need to acquaint themselves with reality – and that reality is they cannot expect that Ireland will become collateral damage in their Brexit scheme.

When asked if she was surprised that the DUP seem comfortable with the tariff plan, she said:

“Nothing that the DUP does or says any more surprises me. My absolute wonderment at their level of recklessness remains.

I cannot and I will never understand for the life of me how it is the DUP can tell the farmers of Ulster, businesses in the north of Ireland, students, communities, workers, that this Brexit escapade is in their interests.

House of Commons spelman

The vote on Spelman’s controversial amendment (a) is taking place.

Spelman didn’t want to move on it, so Yvette Cooper did instead; John Bercow explained how this was perfectly allowed, after there was some anger from the benches.

May’s government was hoping that MPs would vote in large numbers for her motion if Spelman’s amendment was taken off the table, which rules out a no-deal Brexit at anytime, not just on 29 March as the PM’s motion states.

Leo Varadkar’s message of hope ahead of the vote. 

Kind words, but nothing concrete (which I suppose can’t be promised at this stage).

Some result.

Some result Source: Sky News

Those who voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit at any point, not just on 29 March: 312.

Those who disagree with ruling it out: 308.

A very slim majority of 4 to rule out a no-deal Brexit in any circumstance.

Malthouse

MPs are now voting on the “Malthouse B” amendment (tabled by Brexiteers) which says this:

; notes the steps taken by the Government, the EU and its Member States to minimise any disruption that may occur should the UK leave the EU without an agreed Withdrawal Agreement and proposes that the Government should build on this work as follows:

1. That the Government should publish the UK’s Day One Tariff Schedules immediately;

2. To allow businesses to prepare for the operation of those tariffs, that the Government should seek an extension of the Article 50 process to 10.59pm on 22 May 2019, at which point the UK would leave the EU;

3. Thereafter, in a spirit of co-operation and in order to begin discussions on the Future Relationship, the Government should offer a further set of mutual standstill agreements with the EU and Member States for an agreed period ending no later than 30 December 2021, during which period the UK would pay an agreed sum equivalent to its net EU contributions and satisfy its other public international law obligations; and

4. The Government should unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK.”.

Here’s a good representation of what this amendment means, from the Guardian:

Tabled by a group of Conservative MPs drawn from both leave and remain wings of the party, this amendment calls for a delay to Brexit day from 29 March to 22 May to give time for preparations to leave without a deal. It says the government should then offer a “standstill” agreement with the EU and its member states, lasting up to the end of 2021 at the latest, during which the UK would pay into EU budgets and observe legal obligations while a permanent relationship is negotiated.

And here’s some analysis of the amendment, which has been described as “contradicting” the freshly-passed Spelman amendment.

jacob rees Mogg

Jacob Rees Mogg is on Sky News – he says he doesn’t think the Malthouse amendment (f), of which he is a co-signatory, will pass.

He also explains that the government’s motion

That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.

… has been altered by the Spelman amendment to this:

That this House rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship.

So the above is the final motion the House will vote on, which is up next.

Jacob Rees Mogg has just said that the Prime Minister is not his Prime Minister, but the Queen’s First Minister.

When Sky News’ Beth Rigby says “but she is your Prime Minister really…” he denies it with a laugh.

Malthouse 2

So amendment (f), aka the Malthouse B amendment which was tabled by Brexiteers, has had a thumping defeat:

374 MPs voted against it, and 164 voted for it.

There were laughs in the chamber at that final vote majority of 210.

When the longevity of Theresa May is discussed, the inevitable follow up question is that who will, eh, follow in her footsteps. Here’s a good shortlist.

Important clarifier to all of this ahead of the final vote: This is a legally non-binding vote.

Political correspondents are reporting about abstentions, which could lead to resignations for defying the government whip. Madness.

There it is, quite a result to rule out a no-deal Brexit at any point under any circumstances.

Theresa May wed

321 voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit, and 278 voted against that sentiment.

A nice comfortable majority of 43.

Theresa May has confirmed the vote tomorrow on whether the UK should request for an extension.

Crucially, May says that only if the House can find “a way in the coming days to secure a deal… we can request a short technical extension”.

If it is not willing to secure a deal in the coming days, then it’s suggesting a longer extension… [and we will need] to hold EU parliament elections in May.

The House isn’t happy with that.

Speaker John Bercow has just told the House of Commons that Theresa May’s motion for tomorrow’s vote on an extension proposes an extension until 30 June.

There are EU elections in May; the new EU parliament begins on the 1 July, meaning that an extension til then would mean the UK wouldn’t need to take part in the European Parliament elections.

Here’s the list of Conservative MPs who abstained in that final, fascinating vote.

As jacob Rees Mogg was saying earlier, if the UK is to pursue an extension, it will need to change the Withdrawal Agreement and its domestic law, as the 29 March date is in those legal documents.

Varadkar doesn’t like the suggestion of an extension for the sake of it: what happens next ultimately depends on whether the EU wants to give the UK an extension, and if it does, how much of an extension…

If you think the number of MPs in favour of a no-deal Brexit is extraordinarily high, they’re not the only ones:

This is an absolute GEM. Brexit means…

… contradictions. Loads and loads of contradictions.

Here’s a new May-strategy theory I haven’t heard before: May is failing her way to getting her deal passed.

Work and Pensions Minister Sarah Newton has resigned after she voted to reject a no-deal Brexit in any circumstance.

 

Meanwhile, this Buzzfeed reporter says that a senior No 10 aide appears to have authorised MPs to break the whip…

There’s absolute fury at the Prime Minister’s decision not to take action against the Ministers who abstained on tonight’s vote (although they wouldn’t have been able to change the outcome if they had voted).

But Ministers who abstained are saying that they were permitted to abstain…

This is a good laugh: ”I was in the army, I wasn’t trained to lose.”

Who exactly is trained to lose..?

The Irish Times has published an editorial, calling for a soft Brexit or a public vote.

“All the evidence suggests that this impasse cannot be unlocked in a few weeks. London should instead seek a postponement until late summer at the earliest, and the EU should accede to that request. May should then use that time to change course.

“Until now, she has fixated on holding the Tories together at all costs by pandering to the fruitier fringes of the party. Now she must put the UK’s national interest first, and that means working to find a cross-party majority for a softer Brexit.

“Whether that means permanent membership of a customs union with the EU or the ‘Norway-plus’ option of remaining in the single market could be established by way of a series of indicative votes.”

Norway isn’t in the customs union and is a part of the Single Market – it’s the opposite arrangement that the UK needs. A customs union of sorts to avoid a hard border, and to leave the Single Market in order to escape the EU’s “free movement of people” rule.

That’s all for this evening, lads.

There’s still rumblings of Ministerial resignations, but they just seem to be remaining as rumblings for the moment. You can keep up with all the other updates here

This analysis from the BBC journalist John Simpson is a nice reflective tone to end the evening on.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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