News | World News | Brexit vote: May's deal is killed off after MPs vote NO 391 to 24

Brexit vote: May's deal is killed off after MPs vote NO 391 to 24

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May's ministers will reveal at 7am which imports will be taxed if Britain crashes out of Europe without agreement as PM promises free vote on ruling out no deal after she receives 149-vote Brexit hammering

  • Plans to be revealed at 7am on Wednesday will set out how Government will manage Irish border in no-deal 
  • They will also outline which imports would be taxed after March 29, when Britain could crash out of the EU
  • The Commons will vote on a no-deal exit tonight and could vote again tomorrow on an Article 50 extension 
  • Theresa May's withdrawal agreement was defeated by 391 to 242 despite claims of 'legally binding changes' 
  • Jeremy Corbyn led all but three Labour MPs into the No lobby as Opposition MPs ranked up against May  
  • Fatal blow came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said his legal advice was unchanged over backstop   

By Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor and David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent and Martin Robinson Chief Reporter For Mailonline and John Stevens, Deputy Political Editor and Claire Ellicott, Political Correspondent For The Daily Mail

Published: 15:22 EDT, 12 March 2019 | Updated: 20:03 EDT, 12 March 2019

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Ministers will today reveal the tariffs and Irish border plans which would come into force in a no-deal Brexit, as MPs prepare to vote on the prospect tonight after once again rejecting Theresa May's withdrawal deal. 

The plans, due to be revealed at 7am, will set out how the Government would manage the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic - the issue which has left Mrs May's plans in ruins. 

They will also reveal which imports would be taxed after March 29, the date when Britain will crash out of the EU unless a deal is agreed or Parliament votes to extend Article 50. 

The PM has promised Tory MPs a free vote on a no-deal Brexit, after her deal went down in a 149-vote thrashing last night. 

Mrs May had hoped that her last-ditch trip to Strasbourg - where she claimed to have won 'legally binding changes' to the contentious Irish backstop - would persuade reluctant Brexiteers to back her deal. 

But with just 16 days until Brexit, the Commons rejected the revised deal by 391 to 242, as 75 Tory rebels, all 10 DUP MPs and most of the Labour benches united in opposition to the PM's plans, with only three of Jeremy Corbyn's MPs voting for. 

Any hopes of persuading the Tory hardliners had slipped away earlier on Wednesday when Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the UK could still be trapped in the backstop despite the changes in Strasbourg.  

Theresa May (pictured leaving the Commons tonight) washed her hands of Brexit tonight after she was humiliated again as MPs crushed her Brexit deal for a second time 391 to 242 - a majority of 149
Theresa May (pictured leaving the Commons tonight) washed her hands of Brexit tonight after she was humiliated again as MPs crushed her Brexit deal for a second time 391 to 242 - a majority of 149

Theresa May (pictured leaving the Commons tonight) washed her hands of Brexit tonight after she was humiliated again as MPs crushed her Brexit deal for a second time 391 to 242 - a majority of 149

The Prime Minister's hopes of saving her deal after a last minute dash to Strasbourg last night turned to ashes in the Commons today as the new concessions were hammered by MPs
The Prime Minister's hopes of saving her deal after a last minute dash to Strasbourg last night turned to ashes in the Commons today as the new concessions were hammered by MPs

The Prime Minister's hopes of saving her deal after a last minute dash to Strasbourg last night turned to ashes in the Commons today as the new concessions were hammered by MPs 

Labour's opposition - and the deal's rejection by 75 Brexiteer Tory rebels alongside the DUP - sunk Mrs May's motion last night
Labour's opposition - and the deal's rejection by 75 Brexiteer Tory rebels alongside the DUP - sunk Mrs May's motion last night

Labour's opposition - and the deal's rejection by 75 Brexiteer Tory rebels alongside the DUP - sunk Mrs May's motion last night

Moments after the vote Mrs May handed control of Brexit to Parliament, saying Tory MPs would have a free vote on no-deal tonight, and promising a vote on a Brexit delay tomorrow if Wednesday's motion is defeated.  

Mrs May has insisted the Government honours the Good Friday Agreement and will never erect a hard border but there is no clarity on how this would be done from outside the EU. 

She said: 'To ensure the House is fully informed in making this historic decision, the Government will tomorrow publish information on essential policies which would need to be put in place if we were to leave without a deal.

'These will cover our approach to tariffs and the Northern Ireland border, among other matters.

'If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision. 

Mrs May also raised the spectre of cancelling Brexit altogether, saying MPs would have to decide whether they wanted to cancel Article 50, call a second referendum or leave with a different deal.  

A spokesman for the PM - who could barely speak after losing her voice - denied she had discussed resigning in the aftermath of the defeat. 

She is likely to oppose a no-deal exit herself but is suspending Cabinet collective responsibility amid claims that she has lost all her authority. 

MPs will vote on whether they agree with a motion that says they do not want to leave the EU without a deal. However backbenchers led by Tory former minister Dame Caroline Spelman and Labour's Jack Dromey last night put down an amendment that would reject No Deal outright.

Another group, led by former Brexit minister Steve Baker tabled an amendment that would seek an extension of Article 50 until May 22. It was signed by Damian Green, Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Simon Hart and the DUP's Nigel Dodds.

Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly last night warned it would be a mistake for MPs to take No Deal off the table. He said: 'I believe it weakens our hand.' 

A diagram showing how the Commons divided on the Brexit vote last night and what could happen next
A diagram showing how the Commons divided on the Brexit vote last night and what could happen next

A diagram showing how the Commons divided on the Brexit vote last night and what could happen next 

There were 75 Tory rebels - down from 118 last time - as well as all 10 DUP MPs. Just three Labour MPs backed the deal. The Prime Minister got back about 40 MPs from the January 15 vote
There were 75 Tory rebels - down from 118 last time - as well as all 10 DUP MPs. Just three Labour MPs backed the deal. The Prime Minister got back about 40 MPs from the January 15 vote

There were 75 Tory rebels - down from 118 last time - as well as all 10 DUP MPs. Just three Labour MPs backed the deal. The Prime Minister got back about 40 MPs from the January 15 vote

Labour said Mrs May had 'given up any pretence of leading the country' after Jeremy Corbyn led his troops against the negotiated deal. 

In the aftermath of the devastating defeat the Prime Minister - who can barely speak after losing her voice - said that the choices facing the UK were 'unenviable', but because of the rejection of her deal, 'they are choices that must be faced'.

She warned 'voting against leaving without a deal does not solve the problems we face' as she insisted the referendum must be delivered.

Mrs May announced the no deal motion would say crashing out was the 'default' option in UK law but few in Westminster think there is any chance it will not be defeated tomorrow night.

She admitted to having 'personally struggled' with the conflict between delivering Brexit and avoiding the 'potential damage to the Union' that no deal could do to Northern Ireland. 

'If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision,' she said. 

'If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March, the Government will, following that vote, bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to article 50.'  

Before tonight's vote Mrs May warned defeat for the deal would trigger a 'moment of crisis' and today insisted if MPs refused to back it 'Brexit could be lost'.

But after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox ruled three new documents agreed in Brussels did nothing to stop the legal risk the Irish border backstop could become permanent most Tory rebels rejected the deal a second time.

What happens next? Now May has lost again MPs will vote on no deal amid warnings Brexit could be CANCELLED

What happened tonight? 

Theresa May held the second approval vote on her Brexit deal. MPs 391 to 242 - a majority of 149 - against the deal.  

What will happen next?  

The Prime Minister has promised MPs will get a vote on whether or not to accept no deal tomorrow and then a further vote on delaying Brexit on Thursday.

Tory MPs are getting a free vote on whether to support no deal tomorrow night and it is widely expected Parliament will block it. 

At 7am tomorrow, the Government will release more details of no deal preparations including details about what tarriffs the UK will impose on incoming goods like food.  

Could Brexit be stopped? 

May has warned this is a possibility. While she will not revoke Article 50 herself, she has warned political chaos could see the Government replaced by Jeremy Corbyn or another pro-Remain administration.

Could Brexit be delayed? 

Almost certainly with just 17 days until it is due to happen. The EU has said it will grant a two month extension to get the current deal through but that this should not extend beyond EU Parliament elections at the end of May.

It might also extend a much longer extension to allow for a general election or second referendum - but this would be for many months or even years.  

Will the Prime Minister face a motion of no confidence? 

It is possible. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he will only call another vote of no confidence if he has a chance of winning - but in January Mrs May precipitated one herself. 

Will May just resign after a second defeat?

Unlikely but not impossible. Defeat would be another monumental blow to the PM's political authority. 

Will there be a general election? 

There are mounting calls for one. Tory MP Charles Walker said today if the House cannot pass the deal, the current Parliament probably needs to be replaced so a new Government can be formed to tackle Brexit.

One of the advantages of an election is it would be much quicker to organise and resolve than a second referendum.

Could there be a second referendum on Brexit? 

There are mounting demands for a new public vote - but probably not currently a majority in the Commons for it.

A new referendum would take at least six months to organise and run. This could be optimistic as there is no consensus over what the question might be. 

Mrs May has promised MPs will get to vote on no deal tomorrow and on delaying Brexit on Thursday as she wrestles to keep control of Brexit.

Remain supporters will hope to use disarray in the aftermath of tonight's vote to force a second referendum while Mrs May will face inevitable demands to resign. Expectation is also rising there could be a snap general election. 

The PM knew her fate before Speaker John Bercow called the vote at 7pm after Brexiteer ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the majority of his European Research Group would vote against the deal.

Mr Rees-Mogg said earlier the advice meant he could only back the deal if Brexit was at risk - a threat he branded a 'phantom' this afternoon despite Mrs May's warning. 

And Boris Johnson warned Mrs May her plans have 'reached the end of the road' and said no deal was the only way for Britain to leave the EU with 'self-respect'. 

He insisted the ailing package should be 'put to bed' - despite Westminster being rife with rumours of a third vote.  

The DUP - whose 10 MPs prop up Mrs May in Downing Street - led the charge against the PM after declaring her concessions 'not enough'.  

A handful of Conservatives who voted No on January 15 switched to back the deal tonight. But the 20 switchers identified by MailOnline were far short of the 116 extra votes Mrs May needed to reverse the 230 vote loss of January 15. 

As she made her final plea Mrs May - who has lost her voice - said: 'A lot of focus has been on the legal changes - but if this vote does not pass Brexit could be lost'. 

She told MPs: 'This is the moment and this is the time - time for us to come together, back this motion and get the deal done. We cannot serve our country by overturning a democratic decision of the British people. We cannot serve by prolonging a debate the British people now wish to see settled'. 

As MPs poked fun at her croaky voice and critics offered her throat sweets she hit back: 'You may say that but you should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice after our talks'.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has flirted with MPs campaigning for a second referendum and a softer Brexit, confronted Mrs May and urged MPs to throw out her deal calling her negotiations a 'failure' and said he 'looked forward to Parliament taking control'.

Labour MPs almost all voted No despite Mrs May's attempts to win them over with new protections for workers' rights and money for struggling towns. 

Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, warned that defeat in the second 'meaningful vote' on the Withdrawal Agreement tonight would lead to a general election.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One: 'If it doesn't go through tonight, as sure as night follows day, there will be a general election within a matter of days or weeks. It is not sustainable, the current situation in Parliament.'

The likely fatal blow to Mrs May's Brexit deal came after her Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC admitted today that the 11th hour deal struck in Strasbourg last night failed to reverse his legal advice that Britain could be locked into EU rules forever through the Irish backstop.  

In his bombshell letter presented to the cabinet this morning Mr Cox said: 'The legal risk remains unchanged. The UK would have no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol's arrangements, save by agreement'.    

Boris Johnson slammed the Brexit deal tonight and warned Theresa May her plans have 'reached the end of the road' as hardliners prepare to kill off the package
Boris Johnson slammed the Brexit deal tonight and warned Theresa May her plans have 'reached the end of the road' as hardliners prepare to kill off the package

Boris Johnson slammed the Brexit deal tonight and warned Theresa May her plans have 'reached the end of the road' as hardliners prepare to kill off the package

Theresa May made a desperate last attempt to convince MPs to vote for her deal warning that Brexit 'could be lost' but the Tory benches were not packed for the start of her speech

Geoffrey Cox's letter legal risk
Geoffrey Cox's letter legal risk
Geoffrey Cox's letter legal risk
Geoffrey Cox's letter legal risk

This is the Attorney General's letter to the Prime Minister that admitted her tweaked deal had failed to change his advice that Britain could be trapped in a backstop arrangement with the EU in Ireland

But the possibility fatal blow to Mrs May's was contained at the end of the letter, in paragraph 19, where he said 'the legal risk [of the backstop] remains unchanged'
But the possibility fatal blow to Mrs May's was contained at the end of the letter, in paragraph 19, where he said 'the legal risk [of the backstop] remains unchanged'

But the possibility fatal blow to Mrs May's was contained at the end of the letter, in paragraph 19, where he said 'the legal risk [of the backstop] remains unchanged'

And on another extraordinary day in Westminster where Theresa May lost the most important day of her Premiership: 

  • Theresa May lost the second meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by a huge 149 votes; 
  • She announced MPs would vote on whether to go for a no deal Brexit tomorrow night. Conservative MPs will get a free vote and Mrs May admitted to 'personally struggling over the choice;  
  • The Prime Minister claimed victory over 'legally binding' changes to her EU deal only for her own Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to undermine her by admitting he couldn't change his advice on the backstop;
  • DUP and Tory Brexiteers refused to back her deal after Mr Cox's bombshell legal letter;
  • Mrs May used her Commons speech to warn MPs: 'If this vote is not passed then Brexit could be lost'
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says her deal must be defeated so Parliament can 'take control' of the Brexit process; 
  • Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the Tory 1922 committee, insists Mrs May will have to call a general election 'within weeks' if her deal is defeated;

Theresa May's hopes of securing House of Commons approval for her Brexit deal suffered a shattering blow as Tory eurosceptics said they would not back it and her DUP allies said they would vote against.

A so-called Star Chamber convened by the Leave-backing European Research Group found that agreements reached by the Prime Minister in 11th-hour talks in Strasbourg do not deliver the legally-binding changes the Commons has demanded.

And the Democratic Unionist Party - which props up Mrs May's minority administration in the Commons - said its 10 MPs would vote against the latest deal as 'sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time'.

Responding to Mrs May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said 'not a single word' of the Withdrawal Agreement had changed.

He said: 'After three months of running down the clock the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the Withdrawal Agreement - not one single word has changed.

'In terms of the substance, literally nothing has changed ... There is no unilateral exit mechanism, there is not time limit, there are no alternative arrangements'.

Theresa May tries to put on a brave face as her deal faces defeat
Theresa May tries to put on a brave face as her deal faces defeat
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox pictured in the Commons as he delivered his legal advice on Mrs May's Brexit deal
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox pictured in the Commons as he delivered his legal advice on Mrs May's Brexit deal

Theresa May tries to put on a brave face as her deal faces defeat and faced jokes about her croaky voice. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox had earlier delivered his legal advice on Mrs May's Brexit deal and said he couldn't change his advice on the backstop

Mr Corbyn accused the Government of trying to 'fool' its own backbenchers and the British people over its Brexit deal.

He said: 'The unilateral statement is a weak Government trying to fool its own backbenchers because the EU has not even signed up to it.'

He continued: 'The Government is in real problems because they are trying to fool the people into somehow believing that somehow or other the deal she has offered is the only one that is available.

'It is not and they very well know that.'

The Prime Minister intervened on Mr Corbyn to tell him his alternative deal had been rejected by MPs and he should listen to that.

She said: 'When the deal the Government had negotiated was rejected overwhelmingly by this House, he said we should listen. We have listened.

'The other week his proposals were rejected overwhelmingly by this House - why is he not listening?'

Mr Corbyn replied he spent 'a great deal of time listening to people' on the shop floor and in small businesses, and 'they want some degree of certainty', adding 'her deal does not offer that degree of certainty at all'. 

As she defended her deal Mrs May reeled off a list of 'core elements' she said were delivered by the deal.

She said: 'It sends a message to the whole world about the sort of country the UK will be in the years and decades ahead ... To our friends and allies who have long looked up to us as a beacon of pragmatism and decency and a message to those who do not share our values and whose interests diverge from ours. It says this: the UK is a country that honours the democratic decisions taken by our people in referendums and in elections.'

Theresa May insisted that her ailing deal delivers the Brexit that people voted for in 2016 and MPs had a duty to vote it through
Theresa May insisted that her ailing deal delivers the Brexit that people voted for in 2016 and MPs had a duty to vote it through

Theresa May insisted that her ailing deal delivers the Brexit that people voted for in 2016 and MPs had a duty to vote it through

She added: 'I believe that we should be delivering on the vote of the British people in 2016, but I also believe it is important that we give businesses ... the certainty for their future, and there is only one certainty if we do not pass this vote tonight, and that is that uncertainty will continue for our citizens and for our businesses.'

She added: 'We are a country where passionately-held views do not stop us from making compromises to achieve progress. We're a country that values both our national sovereignty and the unbreakable bonds of a shared history.'

She went on: 'A bad deal would be even worse than no deal, but best of all is a good deal, and this is a good deal.'

Former Brexit secretary David Davis lent support to the deal, despite its imperfections.

He said: 'Can she tell the House whether she has detected any change in mood on the part of the EU and the Republic (of Ireland) with respect to a constructive outcome in dealing with the Northern Ireland border?'

Mrs May replied: 'Yes, I think what has been obvious is a change in willingness from the EU to be actively working on those alternative arrangements.

'It was not possible to complete that work in time for the timetable we currently have re March 29.

'But the firm commitments have been given in the documents ... show that willingness on their side to be actively working with us to find those alternative arrangements and find them in a way that means the backstop can indeed be replaced.'

His overall conclusion immediately sparked a negative reaction from the DUP - seen as the key group the PM needed to win over - with MP Nigel Dodds, who is also barrister, saying Mrs May's deal meant: 'Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom could be trapped' and an official statement added: 'We recognise that the Prime Minister has made limited progress in her discussions with the European Union. However in our view sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.' 

Mrs May insists that the EU will make no more concessions on the backstop and MPs should be blamed if her deal fails, not Brussels
Mrs May insists that the EU will make no more concessions on the backstop and MPs should be blamed if her deal fails, not Brussels

Mrs May insists that the EU will make no more concessions on the backstop and MPs should be blamed if her deal fails, not Brussels

Minutes later the ERG pulled the plug after a 'star chamber' meeting where their own lawyers and MPs pored over the new deal.

Veteran Brexiteer Bill Cash said: 'In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government's motion today' while fellow Tory MP John Whittingdale said Mr Cox had inflicted 'terminal' damage on the PM's deal. 

The Prime Minister joked that you 'should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice' after she revealed she had lost her voice as she stepped up to the despatch box.

Theresa May's vocal struggles returned after her speech to the Conservative Party conference in 2017 was infamously overshadowed by her inability to speak.

She could only get out the first two words of her speech, saying 'Mr Speaker' before coughing and clearing her throat.

As Labour MPs joked she could not make her speech, the PM then quipped: 'Okay, you may say that, but you should hear Jean-Claude Juncker's voice as a result of our conversation.'

Hours after releasing his bombshell letter Mr Cox attempted to defend Mrs May's deal and told the Commons it is 'highly unlikely' that the UK and EU would not reach an agreement on their future relationship - and insisted MPs had to make a 'political decision' tonight not a legal one.

After hearing the bad news Theresa May left Downing Street this morning to beg her own MPs to vote for her deal in a lunchtime meeting, warning them that Britain may never leave the EU if they refuse to back her tonight. One MP in the meeting said she 'needed to bring back a rabbit but she had only managed a hamster'.

Minutes earlier she told her cabinet that she did have 'legally-binding changes' to the backstop and ended the meeting by saying: 'Today is the day. Let's get this done'.

If Mrs May's deal fails tonight it will kick-start a move by MPs to block no deal and delay Brexit in votes tomorrow and on Thursday. In a clear threat to Tory Brexiteers, leading Tory remainer Nick Boles, who is working with Labour MPs to deliver the softest possible Brexit, tweeted: 'Do yourselves a favour. Take the win. Vote for the deal. But if you won't, please don't say I didn't warn you about what comes next'. 

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, warned against providing just five hours for the Commons to consider a matter that could 'determine the nation's future for a generation or more'.

Mr Rees-Mogg, who unsuccessfully lobbied for an extra day of debate on the Brexit deal motion, said: 'It also does not help the Government achieve what it wishes to achieve - and that is a majority in the vote at the end of today's proceedings.

'Because if people feel that they have been bounced, that they have been hurried and they have been harried, the natural instinct is not necessarily to cave in, but it is in fact to stiffen their resolve and see how the cards fall.'

Theresa May refused to comment on Geoffrey Cox's legal advice as she entered a meeting with Tory MPs where she begged for their support. 

Heading into a meeting with the Prime Minister, Brexit Minister Robin Walker insisted there had been positive changes that Tory MPs would support.

'The legal risk remains unchanged': What Cox's new advice says and what it means for May  

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published new legal advice on the Brexit deal this morning - apparently torpedoing Theresa May's hopes of winning tonight.

These are the key paragraphs and what they mean: 

Paragraph 19: The final paragraph and ultimately the only one likely to matter today. Cox admits the 'legal risk remains unchanged' that if UK-EU trade talks fail despite real efforts on both sides, Britain cannot escape the backstop unilaterally.

Paragraph 7: The Government hangs great hope on Cox's conclusion a new 'joint instrument' does impose 'new legal obligations and commitments' on finding an alternative to the backstop before it ever kicks in. 

Paragraph 14: Cox says Britain's 'unilateral declaration' the backstop will not be allowed to become permanent does provide a 'substantive and binding reinforcement' of Britain's legal rights to escape the backstop if the EU acts in bad faith. 

Paragraph 17: Cox says the new documents do 'reduce the risk' the UK could be trapped 'indefinitely and involuntarily' trapped in the backstop by the EU acting badly.  

He said: 'I'm positive. We've seen real progress, more progress than many believed would be possible.

'I'm not making crystal ball predictions but what we have seen from the Attorney General is this reduces the risk of the UK being caught in the backstop.'

Sir Desmond Swayne said 'this is an intractable disagreement'.

Former international development minister Grant Shapps said the vote would be close and 'needed the DUP'.

He said: 'One colleague said he was looking for her to bring back a rabbit but she had only managed a hamster - but he said that was good enough for him. I think that was Charlie Elphicke.

'Some colleagues are coming across.'

ERG member Mark Francois said he was 'wholly unconvinced' by Mrs May's improved deal.

He said: 'Question after question after question was directed at her on the legal advice and particularly on paragraph 19 of the Attorney General's statement where he makes the critical observation 'however the legal risk remains unchanged'.

'Colleague after colleague asked about that.

'It's for individual colleagues to judge and obviously they will listen to what the Attorney General says in his statement at 12.30.

'Speaking purely and entirely for myself I regret to say I found the Prime Minister's answers ultimately unconvincing.'

Andrew Bridgen said 'nothing has changed' as he left the meeting after about five minutes.

Mr Corbyn accused the Government of trying to "fool" its own backbenchers and the British people over its Brexit deal.
Mr Corbyn accused the Government of trying to "fool" its own backbenchers and the British people over its Brexit deal.

Mr Corbyn accused the Government of trying to 'fool' its own backbenchers and the British people over its Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister last night announced 'legally binding changes' to the controversial Irish border backstop after a dramatic dash to Strasbourg yesterday and last-minute talks with Jean-Claude Juncker.

What is the new deal announced by May?  

What are the changes to the deal?  

There are three new documents that are now part of the divorce package - on top of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the Future Relationship. 

None of the new documents change either of the two main ones agreed in November and which were defeated by 230 votes on January 15.

The new documents are: 

  • A joint legally binding 'instrument' that is based on promises from Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk the backstop cannot be permanent and should be replaced by 'alternative arrangements' by 2020. 
  • A joint statement adding to the political statement about the future UK-EU relationship, committing both sides to 'enhance and expedite' the trade talks on the final status.
  • A unilateral statement by Britain that if the backstop ever kicked in, the UK would introduce measures to ensure it is 'disapplied'. This means measures to ensure an open border - but does not specify what they are.  

What do the changes mean? 

May's deputy David Lidington said they 'strengthen and improve' the deal and amount to 'legally binding changes'.

The Attorney General produced new legal advice today.

He admitted that if UK-EU trade talks simply fail to reach agreement despite best efforts on both sides, the UK could still end up stuck in the backstop.

The advice is a torpedo to May's hopes of victory tonight.  

Do the changes actually change the divorce deal? 

They do not change either document agreed by Theresa May in November and voted on by MPs in January. Both the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration stand unamended.

May says the new documents have the same 'legal weight' as the original deal and effectively improve it from the outside.  

Will they persuade Tory rebels?

It is too soon to tell. Tory hardliners will pass the documents to a group of their own lawyers and they will make a decision today. 

The so-called 'Cash Council' includes eight lawyers, seven of whom are current MPs and leading Eurosceptic. The group includes DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds.

The DUP itself issued a measured response tonight, vowing to study the new documents closely. 

What is the vote today? 

May is holding a new vote on whether or not to approve her deal today. Passing it is an essential part of making the deal law.

Technically the vote has to happen at some point because of the law in Section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Action 2018. 

It is a repeat of the vote she held and lost by a record-breaking 230 votes on January 13.  

What will MPs vote on? 

The Government has tabled a motion that broadly says MPs 'approve' the deal. 

The motion refer to five documents that now make up the deal - including the three new documents about the backstop.

Both the motion and the documents had to be tabled in Parliament yesterday, before the Commons finished for the night. 

Can it be amended? 

Yes. MPs can re-write the motion to say they 'approve' the deal subject to conditions, or to say they 'decline to approve' it for whatever reason.

Can May amend it?

Yes, potentially. May could table an amendment to her own motion or endorse an amendment tabled by a friendly backbench MP if the new agreements look set to fail.

Why would she do that? 

An amendment could be used to send a political signal to Brussels on what is needed to pass the motion unamended.

It would probably mean a third vote was needed - but this is legally ambiguous and appears to have been ruled out as an option by Juncker anyway. 

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis tweeted: 'This all now depends on the Attorney General's legal advice. It is critical that he confirms we can escape this backstop.' 

Theresa May made a direct pitch to MPs at 11.30am and hopes the changes to her deal will be enough to win backing for her plan from rebel Tory Brexiteers and the DUP in the meaningful vote tonight and secure Britain's exit from the EU on March 29. 

In a clear threat to them leading Tory remainer Nick Boles, who is working with Labour MPs to deliver the softest possible Brexit, tweeted: 'Do yourselves a favour. Take the win. Vote for the deal. But if you won't, please don't say I didn't warn you about what comes next'. 

Mrs May needs to convince the entire DUP group of 10 MPs, most of the 108 Eurosceptic ERG rebels, and at least 10 Labour Brexiteers to back her deal and turn her 230-vote defeat earlier this year into an extraordinary and unlikely victory. 

If Mrs May loses again Remainer MPs are poised to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal and delay Brexit in vote over the next two days. Juncker has last night warned that today was MPs 'last chance' to pass a deal, and said there will be no further changes.

ERG Chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg had given Mrs May hope by saying the new agreement was 'unquestionably a step in the right direction'. David Davis said that if Mr Cox changes his guidance today the deal 'is just about acceptable to me'.  

Tory Brexiteer rebels and Northern Ireland 's DUP have worked through the night to study Mrs May's 'legally binding changes'.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs, said that 'many Conservatives will be heavily influenced by the DUP's view'.

Mr Rees-Mogg also said the process had been 'desperately rushed' and called for the vote to be delayed until tomorrow to give more time to examine the documents.

DUP leader Arlene Foster would not be drawn on what her party in Westminster would do and said last night: 'We will be taking appropriate advice, scrutinising the text line by line and forming our own judgement'.

The ERG and DUP have their own lawyers looking at Mrs May's legal tweaks.

But former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who wants a second referendum, said today: 'It doesn't allow the UK the right to terminate the backstop at a time of its own choosing. Ultimately I don't think this document that's been produced makes any significant difference'.

Independent Group MP Anna Soubry tweeted: 'Just in case you weren't sure who's running our country @Jacob-Rees-Mogg confirms the most important decision our country has taken since WW2 hangs on the views of a self appointed committee of ERG hard Brexit 'lawyers' and the DUP. So much for Taking Back Control'.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has described as 'b*****s' a claim that he had been 'told to find a way' to ensure legal validation of Theresa May's newly-negotiated arrangement with the EU.

The one-word response was given to Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who had tweeted: 'A Lawyer contact tells me that the legal world is aware that the Attorney General said NO last night to the validity of Mrs May's 'new EU deal'... he been told to go away and find a way to say YES: A cohort of lawyers has been summoned.' 

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said it was 'make your mind up time' for MPs on the 'new, improved deal'.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We have an improvement on the Withdrawal Agreement that was presented to the House of Commons in January. That improvement ensures that we have additional legal weight behind our position.

'It also ensures that, as in any agreement or any contract, if it is the case that one side - in this case the EU - seeks to act in a way that is not in accordance with their commitments then we can go to court and we can win.

'We have also made a declaration as a nation that, should the EU behave in that way, that is exactly what we will do.'

That declaration of intent has 'political and legal standing', he added.

Rejecting the deal could result in Brexit being 'delayed or diluted', he said in a message aimed at Tory Eurosceptics.  

Jacob Rees-Mogg said today that it was 'a day of reckoning'
Jacob Rees-Mogg said today that it was 'a day of reckoning'
Tory remainer Nick Boles said Brexiteers should 'take the deal' or wave goodbye to the kind of Brexit they want
Tory remainer Nick Boles said Brexiteers should 'take the deal' or wave goodbye to the kind of Brexit they want

Jacob Rees-Mogg said today that it was 'a day of reckoning' while Tory remainer Nick Boles said Brexiteers should 'take the deal' or wave goodbye to the kind of Brexit they want

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the outcome of last night's Strasbourg meeting as 'positive' but insisted the EU's legal assurances do 'not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement or undermine the backstop'

He said he now 'hopes and trusts' MPs will support Theresa May's Brexit deal.

He said the backstop remains in place until other arrangements are made.

He added: 'Brexit has been a dark cloud for many months, a positive vote can remove that cloud and restore confidence in Britain, Ireland and the EU.'

After a day of confusion and rumour in Westminster, the Prime Minister dashed by plane to Strasbourg for emergency talks with EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

Following a two-hour meeting to thrash out the final details, the pair unveiled a three-point plan for a revised deal in a press conference.

However, it was unclear last night whether the extra changes secured will be enough for Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to alter his legal advice on the Irish backstop.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Jeremy Hunt arrive in Downing Street today ahead of the crucial vote tonight
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Jeremy Hunt arrive in Downing Street today ahead of the crucial vote tonight

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Jeremy Hunt arrive in Downing Street today ahead of the crucial vote tonight

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting

Shief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss was followed into No 10 by Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting

Remainer Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd smiles as she exits her ministerial car in Downing Street
Remainer Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd smiles as she exits her ministerial car in Downing Street

Remainer Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd smiles as she exits her ministerial car in Downing Street 

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today) has told his MPs to reject Mrs May's deal but a number are ready to defy him and side with the Prime Minister
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today) has told his MPs to reject Mrs May's deal but a number are ready to defy him and side with the Prime Minister

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today) has told his MPs to reject Mrs May's deal but a number are ready to defy him and side with the Prime Minister

What are MPs voting on today?  

What is the vote today? 

Theresa May has promised to hold a vote on whether or not to approve her deal today. Passing it is an essential part of making the deal law.

Technically the vote has to happen at some point because of the law in Section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Action 2018. 

What will MPs vote on? 

The Government has tabled a motion that broadly says MPs 'approve' the deal. 

The motion refer to documents that make up the deal - including the two new documents about the backstop.

Both the motion and the documents have to be tabled in Parliament today, before the Commons finishes for the night. 

Can it be amended? 

Yes. MPs can re-write the motion to say they 'approve' the deal subject to conditions, or to say they 'decline to approve' it for whatever reason.

Can May amend it?

Yes, potentially. May could table an amendment to her own motion or endorse an amendment tabled by a friendly backbench MP if the new agreements look set to fail.

Why would she do that? 

An amendment could be used to send a political signal to Brussels on what is needed to pass the motion unamended.

It would probably mean a third vote was needed - but this is legally ambiguous.  

The vote tonight on the withdrawal agreement could decide the fate of Brexit and Mrs May's premiership.

The Prime Minister said: 'MPs were clear that legal changes were needed to the backstop. Today we have secured legal changes. Now is the time to come together, to back this improved deal and to deliver on the instruction of the British people.'

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay tweeted soon after, saying: 'Parliament asked us to secure legal changes to provide reassurance around the backstop.

'Prime Minister has delivered on that. Time to back the deal and deliver an orderly Brexit.'

Mr Juncker warned that if Britain delayed Brexit beyond May 22, it would have to take part in EU elections that begin the day after. He also said the package was the EU's final offer and there will be 'no third chances'.

He added: 'If there is no support for the withdrawal agreement tomorrow, perhaps there is no support for Brexit at all. Let's be crystal clear about the choice: it is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all.

'I trust that today's meaningful legal assurances will be meaningful enough for the meaningful vote tomorrow. Let's now bring this withdrawal to a good end. We owe it to history.' 

The first new document unveiled in the three-point plan was a 'joint interpretative instrument', which guarantees that the EU 'cannot act with the intent of applying the backstop indefinitely'.

If triggered, this would allow the UK to challenge it via a beefed-up arbitration process and suspend it. 

The second was a joint statement in addition to the political declaration on the future relationship, forming a legal commitment to find alternative arrangements to the backstop – including technological ones – before it has to be triggered.

It could be key for trying to win over Eurosceptic MPs who believe technological solutions could prevent the need for a hard border without requiring the UK to be left in a customs union in all but name.

Thirdly, the UK published a 'unilateral declaration' setting out Britain's belief that, if the future trade negotiations break down, it can trigger a process which would see the backstop ended. 

How did your MP vote? May was defied by 75 Tory MPs and won over just THREE from the Labour Party

TORY REMAIN NO VOTES (7

Guto Bebb (Conservative - Aberconwy)

Justine Greening (Conservative - Putney)

Dominic Grieve (Conservative - Beaconsfield)

Sam Gyimah (Conservative - East Surrey)

Jo Johnson (Conservastive - Orpington) 

Grant Shapps (Conservative - Welwyn Hatfield) 

Phillip Lee (Conservative - Bracknell) 

TORY BREXIT NO VOTES (68)

Adam Afriyie (Conservative - Windsor)

Lucy Allan (Conservative - Telford)

Richard Bacon (Conservative - South Norfolk)

Steve Baker (Conservative - Wycombe)

John Baron (Conservative - Basildon and Billericay)

Crispin Blunt (Conservative - Reigate)

Peter Bone (Conservative - Wellingborough)

Suella Braverman (Conservative - Fareham)

Andrew Bridgen (Conservative - North West Leicestershire)

Conor Burns (Conservative - Bournemouth West)

William Cash (Conservative - Stone)

Rehman Chishti (Conservative - Gillingham and Rainham)

Christopher Chope (Conservative - Christchurch)

Simon Clarke (Conservative - Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)

Damian Collins (Conservative - Folkestone and Hythe)

Robert Courts (Conservative - Witney)

Richard Drax (Conservative - South Dorset)

James Duddridge (Conservative - Rochford and Southend East)

Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative - Chingford and Woodford Green)

Charlie Elphicke (Conservative - Dover)

Michael Fabricant (Conservative - Lichfield)

Michael Fallon (Conservative - Sevenoaks)

Mark Francois (Conservative - Rayleigh and Wickford)

Marcus Fysh (Conservative - Yeovil)

James Gray (Conservative - North Wiltshire)

Chris Green (Conservative - Bolton West)

Mark Harper (Conservative - Forest of Dean)

Gordon Henderson (Conservative - Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

Philip Hollobone (Conservative - Kettering)

Adam Holloway (Conservative - Gravesham)

Eddie Hughes (Conservative - Walsall North)

Ranil Jayawardena (Conservative - North East Hampshire)

Bernard Jenkin (Conservative - Harwich and North Essex)

Andrea Jenkyns (Conservative - Morley and Outwood)

Boris Johnson (Conservative - Uxbridge and South Ruislip)

Gareth Johnson (Conservative - Dartford)

David Jones (Conservative - Clwyd West)

Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative - Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Pauline Latham (Conservative - Mid Derbyshire) 

Andrew Lewer (Conservative - Northampton South)

Julian Lewis (Conservative - New Forest East)

Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative - Bridgwater and West Somerset)

Julia Lopez (Conservative - Hornchurch and Upminster)

Jonathan Lord (Conservative - Woking)

Craig Mackinlay (Conservative - South Thanet)

Anne Main (Conservative - St Albans)

Esther McVey (Conservative - Tatton)

Anne Marie Morris (Conservative - Newton Abbot)

Sheryll Murray (Conservative - South East Cornwall)

Priti Patel (Conservative - Witham)

Owen Paterson (Conservative - North Shropshire)

Tom Pursglove (Conservative - Corby)

Dominic Raab (Conservative - Esher and Walton)

John Redwood (Conservative - Wokingham)

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative - North East Somerset)

Laurence Robertson (Conservative - Tewkesbury)

Andrew Rosindell (Conservative - Romford)

Lee Rowley (Conservative - North East Derbyshire)

Henry Smith (Conservative - Crawley)

Royston Smith (Conservative - Southampton, Itchen)

Bob Stewart (Conservative - Beckenham)

Ross Thomson (Conservative - Aberdeen South)

Michael Tomlinson (Conservative - Mid Dorset and North Poole)

Craig Tracey (Conservative - North Warwickshire)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Conservative - Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Shailesh Vara (Conservative - North West Cambridgeshire)

Theresa Villiers (Conservative - Chipping Barnet)

John Whittingdale (Conservative - Maldon)

DUP NO VOTES (10) 

Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry) 

Nigel Dodds (Democratic Unionist Party - Belfast North)

Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Democratic Unionist Party - Lagan Valley)

Paul Girvan (Democratic Unionist Party - South Antrim) 

Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party - North Antrim) 

Emma Little Pengelly (Democratic Unionist Party - Belfast South) 

 Gavin Robinson (Democratic Unionist Party - Belfast East)

 Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)

David Simpson (Democratic Unionist Party - Upper Bann) 

Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party - East Antrim)

INDEPENDENT GROUP NO VOTES (11)  

Heidi Allen (Independent - South Cambridgeshire) 

Luciana Berger (Independent - Liverpool, Wavertree)

Ann Coffey (Independent - Stockport) 

Mike Gapes (Independent - Ilford South) 

Chris Leslie (Independent - Nottingham East) 

Joan Ryan (Independent - Enfield North)

Angela Smith (Independent - Penistone and Stocksbridge) 

 Anna Soubry (Independent - Broxtowe)

Gavin Shuker (Independent - Luton South) 

Chuka Umunna (Independent - Streatham)

Sarah Wollaston (Independent - Totnes) 

SNP NO VOTES (35)

Hannah Bardell (Scottish National Party - Livingston) 

Mhairi Black (Scottish National Party - Paisley and Renfrewshire South)

Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party - Ross, Skye and Lochaber)

Kirsty Blackman (Scottish National Party - Aberdeen North)

Deidre Brock (Scottish National Party - Edinburgh North and Leith)

Alan Brown (Scottish National Party - Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

Lisa Cameron (Scottish National Party - East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) 

Douglas Chapman (Scottish National Party - Dunfermline and West Fife) 

Ronnie Cowan (Scottish National Party - Inverclyde) 

Angela Crawley (Scottish National Party - Lanark and Hamilton East) 

Martyn Day (Scottish National Party - Linlithgow and East Falkirk) 

Martin Docherty-Hughes (Scottish National Party - West Dunbartonshire) 

Marion Fellows (Scottish National Party - Motherwell and Wishaw)

Stephen Gethins (Scottish National Party - North East Fife)

Patricia Gibson (Scottish National Party - North Ayrshire and Arran)

Patrick Grady (Scottish National Party - Glasgow North)

Peter Grant (Scottish National Party - Glenrothes)

 Neil Gray (Scottish National Party - Airdrie and Shotts)

Drew Hendry (Scottish National Party - Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) 

Stewart Hosie (Scottish National Party - Dundee East) 

Chris Law (Scottish National Party - Dundee West) 

David Linden (Scottish National Party - Glasgow East)

Ste

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By Shawn Arnette 12/03/2019 20:03:00




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