Closed Brexit: Theresa May offers MPs chance to shape deal – as it happened

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A live blog from FT.com


Welcome to our coverage

Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of what is meant to be the next stage in the UK’s tortuous attempt to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum. With 67 days to go before the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to return to the House of Commons to outline an alternative proposal to her original Brexit deal that was defeated by a margin of 230 last Tuesday, in the biggest defeat for a UK government in modern history. Despite offering to hold talks with opposition parties to break the impasse, Downing Street has remained resistant to demands to make any significant changes to the original plan. The Labour leadership has refused to engage with the prime minister unless she takes a no-deal Brexit off the table.


May’s Plan B is really Plan A

As many of you have pointed out in the comments section below while waiting for coverage to start, it is looking increasingly likely that the prime minister will in fact try yet again to convince MPs to back something that looks very much like the deal she reached with the EU that was so overwhelmingly rejected last week.

James Blitz, the FT’s Whitehall editor, sums it up well in this morning’s Brexit Briefing, which carries the headline: May’s Plan B is really Plan A.

He writes:

For Theresa May, nothing has changed. Last week, her Brexit deal was savaged in the Commons by a margin of 230 votes. Yet today, the prime minister will return to the chamber, declare her deal is still on the table — and suggest that one more heave might yet get it across the line.

And James suggests the prime minister will seek to blame the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for her inflexibility:

Many MPs — even many on her side of the aisle — will listen to this afternoon’s statement with incredulity. True, the PM has some cover. Jeremy Corbyn has refused to accept her offer of cross-party talks following last week’s vote, insisting that “no deal” must first be taken off the table. This will allow Mrs May to argue that Mr Corbyn is the stubborn one and that he leaves her with no choice but to soldier on.


Brexit views

Here is some of our best recent commentary on Brexit …

Europe is an alliance, not a union of shared values, according to Gideon Rachman. The EU27’s display of unity tells us that the internal divisions within the group are less important than the external pressures that are pushing them together, he says.

Meanwhile Wolfgang Munchau suggests that the likelihood of no-deal Brexit is much higher than most people think – particularly if MPs vote down Mrs May’s deal again next week.

Michael Mackenzie runs through the ways in which Brexit is hitting the UK’s financial landscape, saying that UK assets are lagging behind and there is good reason for investors’ caution.

And Labour MP Stella Creasy argues that the UK should learn from other nations to resolve the Brexit logjam.


Theresa May has arrived at Westminster

The FT’s political correspondent, Henry Mance, reports that Theresa May has left Downing Street and is currently talking to ministers in Westminster about her plan B, or lack of one.


IMF warning

Brexit has caused a headache for the IMF, which is struggling to forecast the outlook for the UK’s economy, reports our economics editor Chris Giles.

In its latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF has left its forecast for UK economic growth this year at 1.5 per cent but said there was “substantial uncertainty” around this prediction.

Brexit is a “cliffhanger” with the potential for nasty spillover effects both in the UK and Europe, the IMF said.


‘Real action’ is in the amendments

In terms of what to expect in parliament this afternoon, the FT’s Henry Mance explains that the real action today is likely to be in the amendments that MPs propose to the bland, or in more polite terms, neutral, motion that Theresa May tables. This is the way that parliament will try to take control of the process – and attempt to take the possibility of a no-deal Brexit off the table.

The amendments have been subject to furious negotiation – we haven’t seen the final versions yet, and more can be tabled right up until January 29 when the government has said it will hold the vote on this latest iteration of a plan.

There are at least three big proposals planned by backbench MPs:

The first from Nick Boles, a former Conservative minister, would give the government a fixed period to come up with an agreed Brexit deal, after which Article 50, the piece of legislation that triggered Brexit, would be delayed. Constitutionally, this could be quite significant because it will effectively empower backbenchers to force through primary legislation.

The second from Dominic Grieve (pictured below) would ensure that opposition politicians can set what is debated and voted on in the Commons. Again, this is significant because it takes a power that has been seen as the government’s. It is another route to stopping no deal, because opposition MPs, including the Labour party and the SNP, the second and third largest parties in parliament, respectively, are committed to preventing such an outcome.

The third from independent MP (and Brexiter) Frank Field is an attempt to measure the strength for different Brexit views by non-binding votes on seven possible paths (changes to the backstop, a no-deal Brexit, an extension of Article 50, a second referendum, membership of single market, membership of customs union, a Canada-style trade agreement). The problem is that these options are not mutually exclusive and no single option is likely to enjoy support at the beginning, and so much would depend on the precise voting system (would MPs be able to rank preferences?).

There may be other amendments, including from hardline Brexiters (insisting on changes to the backstop) and Remainers (promoting a second referendum).


Sterling little moved

The pound is continuing to trade just under $1.29, reports Michael Hunter from our markets team, down 0.1 per cent at $1.2863 as investors watch Brexit politics.


The PM’s options

Pollster ICM has asked the general public what they think Mrs May should do next. The most popular option, perhaps surprisingly, is “no deal”.

It’s not clear, however, that those polled fully understand what a no-deal Brexit would involve. Here’s some polling from YouGov earlier this month which shows more than two-thirds of people saying they are not entirely sure …


Grieve explains his amendment

Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, has told the BBC that he is not seeking constitutional upheaval by proposing his amendment. He says he is more than aware of “how our constitution works and is very respectful of it” and insists all he is doing is looking to “tweak” the standing orders, which are the written rules regulating the proceedings in parliament. He points out that standing orders are “determined” by the House of Commons and are “frequently” adapted and changed. He accused the government of trying to shut down any debate that dissents from its view on Brexit.

“The change I am trying to bring about is not some sort of constitutional upheaval or revolution at all, it is a tweak of the standing orders.”

https://twitter.com/BBCPolitics/status/1087330909936803841


Irish tensions

A row is brewing over the possible connection between the UK’s Brexit plans and this weekend’s car bombing (pictured below) in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Police have arrested four men in connection with the car bomb, the first for years in a region that has largely been peaceful since the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

Now a row has broken out over remarks made by an Irish academic and adviser to the country’s president. In the wake of the bombing Deirdre Heenan, who sits on the Council of State for Ireland, tweeted to Theresa May:

Two years of no government, decay, stagnation and we are poised to bear the brunt of #Brexit. Complete disinterest from your government and acceptance of the political stasis. Frankly, this is a dereliction of duty and we deserve better.

UK Labour MP Kate Hoey and others stepped in to defend the prime minister, saying that the blame lied with the bombers, not Westminster. In response, Ms Heenan clarified:

In the words of former SOS [secretary of state] the late Dr Mo Mowlam, ‘We cannot afford to allow a political vacuum to develop which those wedded to violence would be happy to fill’.

Meanwhile the Irish Times has warned that the bombing was a “wake-up call” over security issues related to Brexit. Its security and crime editor Conor Lally wrote that senior police officers and politicians on both sides of the Irish border had been warning for a long time that Brexit could be a “rallying call” for dissident republicans.


Signs of splits among the EU27 over N Ireland backstop

The FT’s Brussels bureau chief, Alex Barker, reports that there are the first signs of dissent among the remaining 27 EU members states over how to deal with the opposition in the UK to the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement.

Hardline Conservative Brexiter MPs and the Northern Irish DUP, which props up Theresa May’s minority government, are opposed to an open-ended fallback plan intended to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland — that could keep Northern Ireland closer to the EU than the rest of the UK would be in the event of no trade deal being reached during the transition period that is meant to kick after March 29 and run until December 2020.

Even as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator parried Mrs May’s attempt to renegotiate the backstop plan for the Northern Ireland border, which is what she is expected to aim for this afternoon, Poland has proposed putting a five-year time limit on the measures in order to secure support in Westminster.

Michel Barnier on Monday described the withdrawal treaty as the “best possible” deal, and called for the focus to be on negotiating a “more ambitious” future relationship rather than making changes to the backstop.

But Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland’s foreign minister, backed UK calls for an end-date to the backstop, which he suggested could be “five years”.

“Of course, this would be less beneficial for Ireland than an indefinite backstop, but much more favourable than a no-deal Brexit, which inevitably approaches [otherwise],” he told Rzeczpospolita.


Running out of ministers?

The Institute for Government think-tank has done some number-crunching on the shape of the Parliamentary Conservative party, and concludes that Mrs May could be running out of choice for her frontbench team, if she faces more resignations.

There are only 46 MPs whose conduct and voting record suggest they would be suitable for ministerial office, according to the IfG’s Alasdair de Costa on Twitter. There are just 13 MPs who are suitable for the job of PPS – the lowest rung of the government ladder.

This makes it easier for ministers to rebel, in the knowledge that it will be difficult to replace them, the IfG suggests.


Euro area ministers prepare for no deal Brexit

With time running out to secure a Brexit agreement, euro area finance ministers will discuss no-deal preparations at a meeting this afternoon in Brussels, writes the FT’s Jim Brunsden.

Mario Centeno, the president of the Eurogroup, said that ministers will be briefed by the European Commission on contingency measures. “It is necessary to be prepared for all sorts of scenarios, but it’s also very important to have in mind the risks [that those scenarios bring].”

Meanwhile, Jim also reports that the European Commission has made clear this afternoon that it won’t be bringing new ideas to the table to help Britain out of its Brexit morass, with a spokesman saying “don’t look for answers to Brussels…This is the moment for London to speak, not for us.”


Motion to unlock Brexit impasse ‘not meaningful’

With Theresa May due to tell MPs around 3:30pm on how she intends to proceed with solving the impasse in parliament, Downing Street has pointed out that the vote next week on whatever from Mrs May’s “neutral motion” eventually takes is “not a substitute for the meaningful vote”, which is required by law to secure parliamentary assent for a final exit deal. Such a vote is now expected in February apparently.


Statement about to start

Mrs May has joined the front bench in the House of Commons, and is preparing to make her statement.


Opening remarks

Mrs May starts by condemning Saturday’s car bomb attack in Derry and thanking the police.

On Brexit, she says it was clear the government’s approach needed to change, and it has. She has listened to colleagues across the House.


Six key issues

There are six key issues, Mrs May says.

First, there is widespread concern about no deal. We need to be honest with the British people about what that means. The right way to rule out no deal is for the House to approve a deal. The only other way is to revoke Article 50, which would mean staying in the EU.

Other people say we should extend Article 50; this is merely deferring the point of decision and the EU is unlikely to agree, Mrs May says.

The consequences of ruling out no deal means that people are effectively endorsing the cancelling of Article 50, which would be contrary to the referendum result.

Second, support for a second referendum. Our duty is to implement the decision of the first one, says Mrs May. A second referendum would set a difficult precedent, not least in the context of Scottish nationalism, she infers. It risks undermining social cohesion and faith in our democracy, she adds. I do not believe there is a majority for a second referendum in this House.


The deal

The remaining issues raised in the discussions relate to the substance of the deal, and on this we can make progress, Mrs May says.

We all agree we must fully respect the Belfast agreement and I want to be absolutely clear – this government will not reopen that agreement, I have never even considered doing so, she says.

There are two key issues: the fear of being trapped in the backstop permanently and the fear that Northern Ireland could be separated from the rest of the UK. She will talk to people this week about how those concerns can best be addressed.

There are also concerns about the political declaration, the basis for the future negotiating mandate, says Mrs May. She offers reassurance to the house that she will seek input from experts outside government, including parliament.


Consulting with MPs

The government will consult with the house and harness select committees to ensure it has the full range of expertise needed for the next phase of negotiations, says Mrs May.

Parliament has not felt that it has enough visibility of the government’s position, says Mrs May. As the negotiations progress, we will deliver confidential committee sessions to keep parliament up to date on our position.

While it will always be for the government to negotiate for the UK, we will give the devolved administrations an enhanced role in the next phase of negotiations, she says, including regional representatives in England. She also promises to reach out to civil society, business and trade unions.

She will offer parliament a guarantee that the government will not degrade social and environmental standards and particularly workers’ rights, she says. She will look at legislation where necessary.


EU citizens

We have already committed to letting EU citizens in the UK stay and continue to access benefits and services, even in a no-deal scenario, says Mrs May.

She can confirm that the government will waive the application fee for the full EU citizenship registration scheme so there is no financial barrier for EU citizens wishing to stay. Those who apply during the pilot scheme will have their fee reimbursed.

Some EU states have guaranteed the rights of British citizens, and we will step up our efforts to ensure they all do, she adds.


Tabling a motion

The government is today tabling an amendable motion which will be voted on on January 29. This is not a re-run of the vote on her deal, says Mrs May.

In the next few days, Mrs May and ministers will continue to meet with MPs and trade unions, business and civil society representatives.

I do not believe there is a majority in this house for a second referendum, says Mrs May, and I cannot support withdrawing Article 50.

She pledges to be more flexible and inclusive in future in how she goes about negotiating, to secure social and environmental rights, and to finding a way around the problem of a hard border in Northern Ireland. These three things will find a way to deliver Brexit, she says.

Her statement is finished and she sits down.


Corbyn: May has not come to terms with defeat

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acccuses Mrs May and the government of being in “denial” about last week’s historic defeat of the Brexit deal. He urges the PM to redraw her red lines. He insists “nothing has changed” despite Mrs May’s assertions the government has been listening to opposition MPs.


Corbyn: feels like Groundhog Day

The Labour leader says Mrs May appears to be intent on pushing through her deal and must recognise that there is a “clear majority” in the Commons that opposed a no deal and urges the PM to stop wasting money on preparing for this eventuality.

He asks the prime minister to confirm that if MPs pass a motion that blocks a no-deal Brexit that she would act on it. He says Labour will back amendments that rule out a no deal and will not rule out a second referendum.


“It would be nice to talk”

Mrs May says that it would be nice to have some talks with Mr Corbyn. He does not know what has happened in the talks so far because he did not turn up to those talks. She wants to sit down and talk to him about what will secure the support of the house to enable the UK to leave the EU with a deal.

In response to his call to rule out a no-deal Brexit, Mrs May says there are only two ways to do this: reverse Article 50 – a betrayal of the referendum – or agree a deal with the EU. That is precisely what she is seeking to do.


Brexit no-deal preparation costs

Mr Corbyn has criticised the government’s spending on preparations for no deal. But if we stopped spending that money, we would not be prepared for a deal either, Mrs May says.

To those who are concerned about no deal, Mrs May says that their position implies we should leave with a deal. Therefore they should focus their attention on getting a deal.

We need to be able to look our constituents in the eye and say we did the right thing for them, Mrs May says.


Consider a customs union

Kenneth Clarke, the longest serving MP in the Commons and former Tory chancellor, asks the PM if she would consider reaching out to Remainers in the Commons to consider agreeing a customs union and regulatory alignment with the EU. He urges her to be “flexible” and reminds her that there was a large majority against her deal and there were more Remainers than Brexiters in those that voted against.

Theresa May says government attempts to push through regulatory alignment were resisted by some MPs. She dodges the question about a customs union by claiming she sought “frictionless trade” with the EU as part of her Brexit deal but the EU27 rejected it. She adds that she had lunch with the prime minister of New Zealand and responds to groans from some MPs by saying that before they remind her of the small size of New Zealand’s economy, they also discussed membership of the CPTPP, the recently agreed Pacific trade pact that came into force in December.


Call for Scottish independence

Ian Blackford of the SNP says media reports that Downing Street was considering renegotiating the Good Friday Agreement were disturbing and asks for further reassurances that was not the case.

The SNP has participated in talks with Mrs May on the basis that taking Article 50 off the table has to be an option. But her insistence that the UK must leave the EU on March 29 is not consistent with her undertaking not to make preconditions in these talks. There is no sign she is interested in meaningful talks, he says. He reiterates his request that she should take no deal off the table. Politicians across the spectrum have no appetite for no deal, he says. A second referendum would require us to extend Article 50, he says.

The leadership is shambolic and the government is a farce, he says. He reiterates his call for a second referendum. He welcomes Mrs May’s announcement that she will waive application fees for EU citizens.

Scotland did not vote for Brexit and we will not be dragged out of Europe, he says. An independent Scotland is an escape route from Brexit. Scotland could be a country at the heart of Europe.


“Agree a deal”

In response to the SNP, Mrs May reiterates her statement that no deal cannot be wished away; either the UK stays in the EU or it needs a deal. If you don’t want no deal you have to be willing to agree a deal, she says.

In response to his call for Scottish independence, Mrs May says that it flies in the face of economic reality.


Litmus test of her flexibility

If MPs voted for membership of a customs union would she implement the decision, asks Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader. Mrs May dodges the question and talks about being “faithful to the result of the referendum” and to look at the reasons behind that vote “and to deliver on those.” Mr Miliband looks on incredulously.


Boris calls for binding change to withdrawal text

Boris Johnson lauds Mrs May’s willingness to go back to Brussels. He asks her to confirm she is seeking legally binding change to the text of the withdrawal agreement.

Mrs May says she is exploring the various options which have been raised by MPs to see what could secure the support of the House.

Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, appears to assert that Mrs May has already agreed to go back to Brussels to seek legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement around the Northern Ireland backstop, although he isn’t that specific in his language, merely referring to the “necessary changes that must be made”.

Mrs May replies she can give him those assurances.


May pushed on customs union again

Lucy Powell, a Labour backbencher, once again tries to get the PM to confirm she would act on a vote by MPs to back a customs union. Mrs May insists that Ms Powell is “making assumptions about the views of members across this House that have not been reflected by the discussions that we have had with members across this House” while adding that it is up to MPs to amend the motion she had tabled.

The Labour party is committed to a customs union with the EU.


“Wasting time”

Heidi Allen, the Tory MP with a track record of rebellion, accuses the PM of wasting time. Next week Mrs May must commit to one or other option, she says.

Mrs May says she is having necessary discussions across the House.


“Not good enough”

Anna Soubry, the leading pro-EU Tory MP, says Brexit is turning the UK into a laughing stock. Mrs May had promised to sort out the backstop, then nothing changed. Last week was a historic defeat; this House overwhelmingly rejected the PM’s deal. This is another week of can-kicking and meanwhile nothing has changed, Mrs Soubry says.

Mrs May responds that the UK did receive additional assurances from the EU after the vote was delayed in December, but they were insufficient for the House. Now we are seeking a deal that will enable the UK to leave the EU, she says.


The worst of both worlds?

Bernard Jenkin, a longstanding eurosceptic Conservative, congratulates Mrs May on winning last week’s vote of confidence. He cites JP Morgan, which he says called the extension of Article 50 the worst of both worlds.

Mrs May says she had not seen the remarks from JP Morgan but she believes that delivering on the referendum result means leaving on 29 March.


Polish offer to limit Irish backstop

Theresa May is asked about today’s comments by Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland’s foreign minister, who backed UK calls for an end date to the backstop, which he suggested could be “five years”. She replies that she looked forward to “exploring in more detail the proposals,” adding that the UK has always worked very well with the Polish government.


Plan B “remarkably similar” to Plan A

Capital Economics says, in a research note, that Mrs May’s Plan B is “remarkably similar” to Plan A, which Parliament rejected last week.

Andrew Wishart, Capital Economics’ UK economist, writes:

The Government’s Plan B is to ask the EU for reassurance that the UK will not be permanently trapped in the Irish backstop, to promise to consult Parliament in the next stage of negotiations on the future relationship and to guarantee that environmental standards and workers’ rights will be maintained. We highly doubt these token gestures will sway MPs. And it is very unlikely that the EU will agree to change the backstop enough, if at all, to persuade the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party and the DUP to vote for this Plan B.

We think the consensus in Parliament may ultimately be for a softer Brexit (Norway-plus or a permanent customs union), which would require an extension of the Article 50 negotiation period. This is our “fudge & delay” scenario, to which we assign a probability of 70%.


“Another bleak day for business”

The CBI is unimpressed with Mrs May’s statement. Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said:

“This is another bleak day for business. While the government’s move to consult more widely is welcome, as is the commitment to scrap the settled status charge for EU citizens, the fundamentals have not changed. Parliament remains in deadlock while the slope to a cliff edge steepens.

“The government should accept that no deal in March 2019 must be off the table. Politicians on both sides of the Commons need to step back from their increasingly entrenched positions.

“It is vital they focus on three key principles: a deal that commands consensus in Parliament, can be negotiated with the EU and protects livelihoods in communities across the UK. There must be a new cross-party approach, where leaders compromise and find a path that safeguards the economy.”


A question of money

Conservative eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg asks Mrs May to take to the EU a copy of a Lords report which says that in the event of no deal, the UK should not pay the EU any money.

Mrs May says that when that report came out the attorney general was very clear that the Lords had only looked at one part of the law and they had recognised there may be obligations under other parts of the law and indeed that is the case. We should be a country that respects its legal obligations, she says.


PM criticised for raising spectre of riots

Quite a few MPs have expressed concern that Theresa May chose to reinforce much-criticised warnings made by other senior Tories, including foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, that any move to delay or stop Brexit could lead to civil unrest. Earlier she warned: “I believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.”

Peter Kyle, a Labour MP and supporter for a second referendum, suggest to Mrs May that it is a very small minority of extreme far right supporters who are trying to fan the flames. He ask her: “when did the Tory party start running away from fascists rather than standing up to them?”

Mrs May responds angrily: “I have to say that comment was beneath the honourable gentleman.”


“Smoke and mirrors”

The Federation of Small Businesses’ national chairman Mike Cherry has warned that the government’s retreat on charging fees for EU citizens’ residency applications could be seen as “smoke and mirrors” in the context of the wider situation, “hiding the lack of a clear plan to steer us away from a chaotic no deal Brexit”.

Mr Cherry said:

“Time is nearly up – we need action now to secure a pro-business deal that delivers the security of a transition period and avoids the chaos of a No Deal Brexit nine weeks from now. All we are being given is more political uncertainty.

“We are calling on politicians of all stripes to come together to urgently find a way forward from this alarming Brexit stalemate.”


“Get serious”

The Institute of Directors has called on politicians to “get serious” about finding a way through the current impasse.

Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy at the IoD, said:

“While the government is downplaying the idea of extending article 50, the longer this deadlock continues, the less time there is for firms to be ready. If the government’s withdrawal deal fails in Parliament again they may have no choice but to look at some form of technical extension, at least for a limited period. Only 14% [of our members] report feeling very prepared for no deal and vast amounts of detail about the processes for business to use on day one are still missing, so there is little more information available to firms to let them do what limited planning they can to protect against its worst impacts. Businesses really are between the devil and the deep blue sea.


Lords puts trade Bill on hold

While the Commons chamber continues to respond to Mrs May’s statement, the House of Lords has been engaging in some political activism of its own. In an unusual move, peers have voted by a substantial majority to block the latest stage of the government’s trade Bill until they get more information about post-Brexit trade.

The Press Association reports:

Peers voted by 243 to 208, majority 35, to block the trade Bill’s report stage until they get fuller details of the plans. The move – branded a “tactic of obstruction” by the government – has no impact on the four days of committee stage debate on the Bill starting today. But it will mean the measure’s subsequent report stage will not start until the government has complied with Labour’s demand to give Parliament more details on how international trade agreements will be struck and scrutinised after Brexit.

This rather niche scrap over Parliamentary procedure highlights the significant job the government has ahead of it in passing the legislation needed to deliver Brexit in the very narrow timescale now available. Former shadow leader of the House Chris Bryant has just pointed out in the Commons that “the clock is ticking away”.

“Even if her deal had been agreed last week she would stand no chance of getting legislative certainty by 29 March,” Mr Bryant said, before asking Mrs May to postpone Article 50.

She responded that the legal certainty he referred to is in the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with the EU.


Reaction

The FT’s Sebastian Payne says – in response to a Conservative MP – that it seems Mrs May has no other plan.

https://twitter.com/SebastianEPayne/status/1087378380662718466

For those without access to Twitter, it says:

Sarah Wollaston MP: “It’s like last week’s vote never happened. Plan B is Plan A”

Sebastian Payne: “May’s Plan Z is also Plan A”


Circular debate, real world concerns

As MP after MP fails to get the PM to say anything beyond her desire to avoid a no-deal Brexit by getting a deal, some kind of deal, she isn’t being specific . . . business is growing increasingly alarmed at the prospect of a no deal. On such warning has come from the world’s airline trade body, which has hit out at the EU for planning to cap the number of flights after Brexit, which could result in some people who have booked holidays elsewhere in Europe this summer could discovering their flight no longer exists.

Alexandre de Juniac, director-general of the International Air Transport Association, wrote to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, responding to Brussels’ plan to cap flight numbers between the UK and EU at 2018 levels.

“Both EU and UK airlines have been allocated airport slots and have sold tickets for this summer. This decision, if approved, will create significant disruption with travellers being unable to fly and airlines unable to honour booked tickets and potentially losing their slots.”

You can read the full story here


And that’s it until next Tuesday . . .

. . . . we think. The speaker, John Bercow, has wrapped up the debate after two and a half hours, thanking the 107 back benchers who questioned the prime minister. We are now waiting for the details of the motion tabled by the government and the amendments from MPs. Those amendments are expected to be voted on next Tuesday, 29 January, in the next step in the parliamentary attempt to break the impasse over Brexit.


That’s it from us until next time

We have been waiting to see if we could get our hands on the government’s amendable motion that is meant to give parliament the chance to shape Brexit. As it stands we don’t have the wording of that motion but we can tell you that Lisa Nandy and Stella Creasy, Labour backbenchers, are planning to table an amendment to the as yet unpublished motion that would delay Britain’s exit from the EU. This would allow members of the public could debate the way forward. The idea of a citizens’ assembly is based on experience in other countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands. Ms Creasy wrote about the proposal in the FT. The move is backed by Labour’s Liz Kendall and Alison McGovern and the Green MP Caroline Lucas. It could fit with a bid by Tory MP Nick Boles and Labour MP Yvette Cooper to extend Article 50 if the government can’t win approval for a Brexit deal by the end of next month.

We are going to wrap up our coverage for the day. Please visit FT.com for further updates on the UK’s Brexit impasse.

Meanwhile, you can find the statement Theresa May’s made to MPs here

Thanks for joining us