Closed Brexit: Brussels rejects attempt to renegotiate UK withdrawal — as it happened

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After suffering a heavy defeat earlier this month for the deal she had agreed with the EU27, the British prime minister returns to parliament in the hope of breaking the impasse over what form of Brexit MPs would support. Join us for our live coverage from 11am GMT.


MPs to vote on shape of the Brexit deal

Good morning, and welcome to the FT’s live blog in the run up to a crucial vote in the British parliament that is hoped to break the Brexit deadlock. Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement was rejected by MPs last month, leading to a series of competing plans put forward by politicians across parties to be voted on today that will show the level of support for different forms of Brexit.

Ultimately the day of voting could show Mrs May which deal could finally gain the backing of lawmakers – even if every option is voted down on the day as most expect.


Northern Ireland backstop in focus

Of the 19 amendments tabled, much of the interest will be on a proposal from Tory MPs Graham Brady, which would in effect replace the ‘backstop’ mechanism of keeping Ireland without borders with “alternative arrangements”. The Brady plan has the tacit backing of Downing Street, which hopes to use the parliamentary support for a different version to persuade Brussels to renegotiate the Brexit deal.


The political timetable

Here is the timetable for the day:
11.30: business for the day will start
(c)12.30: speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow will announce which amendments have been selected for debate and vote.
(c)12.45: Therea May opens debate
13.00 -19.00: MPs debate amendments
19.00: Votes (each lasting roughly 20 minutes)


Amendments lead the agenda

Today will see groups of MPs put forward a series of amendments to Mrs May’s EU withdrawal plan – which was emphatically voted down by parliament – that could change the course of Brexit.

The FT’s Whitehall editor James Blitz has this summary of the key proposals.

They include:
One by Mrs May comes from Graham Brady, chairman of Tory backbenchers’ body the 1922 committee, and proposes alternatives to the so-called Northern Irish backstop that would keep the border open between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. Brexiters fear a backstop would keep the UK in the EU customs regime in perpetuity.

One put forward by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that requires more time to vote on Mrs May’s deal, including the option of a second referendum.

One from former Labour minister Yvette Cooper and former Conservative minister Nick Boles that sets Mrs May a deadline of February 26 to secure parliamentary approval for a Brexit plan. After this, MPs could request an extension of Article 50, the legislation that sets down March 29 as the date Britain leaves the bloc, and make a no-deal Brexit less likely.

A plan by Dominic Grieve, a former Conservative minister who favours a second referendum, that would pave the way for alternatives to Mrs May’s deal such as a Norway-plus concept that keeps the UK in the EU’s single market. Many Conservative MPs are reluctant to back it because it runs against Mrs May’s plans.


Brexit in today’s newspapers

The Financial Times leads on Mrs May’s surprise decision to back the proposed amendment to her deal that could change how Brexit affects the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. The prime minister has agreed with prominent backbencher Graham Brady that the Northern Irish “backstop” that would keep Ireland’s border open post-Brexit should be overhauled.

But The Times says on its front page that some Tory Brexiters will vote down Mr Brady’s compromise amendment, even though Mrs May has backed it to assuage hardline Eurosceptics. According to The Times, the prime ministers allies now believe the Brexiters’ real goal is one “of a no-deal Brexit”.

The Guardian also carries a page 1 story about Mrs May’s backing of the backstop compromise plan that she could take to Brussels, and a split between Tory Brexiters over whether to support this.

Left-leaning tabloid The Daily Mirror reports retail bosses’ warnings of food shortages and “crippling price rises” if Britain leaves the EU on March 29 without a deal. The same story is on the front pages of The Independent and London freesheet Metro.


What is a no-deal Brexit?

Many MPs fear the prospect of Britain leaving the EU on March 29 with no transition period. Mrs May has already negotiated a transition deal with Brussels, but this was defeated by a huge parliamentary vote earlier this month.

If parliament fails to agree an alternative to Mrs May’s plan in time, the UK will stop being an EU member. This sudden change in Britain’s status will mean it does not have to obey EU rules, but also that it loses trade agreements it has as an EU member. These would all have to be renegotiated with individual states, as well as with the European bloc itself. In the meantime, Britain will trade with other nations under WTO rules, which retailers and manufacturers have claimed will cause long delays at UK borders, supply chain disruptions and even food shortage.

Home secretary Sajid Javid announced on Monday that, under a no-deal Brexit, the government will end free movement of European citizens into the UK “as soon as possible”. EU citizens who wish to stay in Britain for longer than
three months will require a visa.


May to open debate
The prime minister will open the debate on the Brexit amendments, rather than close it as she had been expected, which will give her a chance to frame the discussions and make any last minute concessions to the Eurosceptics who want to see her return to Brussels to renegotiate the Northern Irish backstop. She can be expected to stand after 12.30pm.


The view from Europe: ‘nonsense’

As UK lawmakers argue among themselves over how to leave the Europe, a reminder that Sabine Weyand, one of Europe’s top Brexit negotiators, has already said that the government-supported amendment for “alternatives” to the Irish backstop is too vague. Ms Weyand said on Monday:

We are open to alternative arrangements. The problem with the Brady amendment is that it does not spell out what they are. It’s not a criticism of them because they don’t exist,” Ms Weyand said.

The Guardian reports s from an unnamed EU official that a proposal to use technology to avoid a hard border in Ireland is “nonsense”.


Another alternative plan

On top of all these amendments, Eurosceptic and pro-Europe Conservative MPs are also thrashing out a set of Brexit compromise proposals aimed at breaking a parliamentary deadlock. The FT’s Laura Hughes reported earlier today:

MPs involved in the talks include Jacob Rees-Mogg, the head of the Tory European Research Group of Eurosceptic MPs, and Steve Baker, another hardline Brexiter, and the pro-EU former education secretary Nicky Morgan.

According to a leak of the proposals, they call for the two-year transition period to be extended by an extra 12 months, to the end of 2021, to allow for more time to secure a trade deal between the UK and EU. In this period EU citizens’ rights would be guaranteed, budget contributions would continue and there would be no customs checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

They also call on Mrs May to renegotiate the so-called backstop to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and replace it with a “safety net” that allowed for the continuation of tariff-free access for both parties.


Sterling heads for turbulence

Sterling held steady on Tuesday morning in London, writes Adam Samson, but activity in the options market suggests some traders are expecting a turbulent ride during parliamentary proceedings this evening.

The UK’s currency was little changed against the US dollar at $1.3159, and down 0.16 per cent against the common currency, buying 1.1496 euros.

But implied overnight volatility in the pound against the US dollar jumped from 8.05 points on Monday to 20.85 points on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv data that tracks activity in the options market. It was the highest level since the run-up to the Commons vote on Theresa May’s initial Brexit plan, which took place in mid-January.


The pound has risen from $1.2484 recorded in mid-December, with investors increasingly convinced that a damaging no-deal Brexit is unlikely.

Traders will be focused on the slew of amendments that are expected to be debated and voted on in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening, according to Chris Turner, head of foreign exchange strategy at ING.

One in particular, the Yvette Cooper amendment, is expected to garner significant attention, adds Lee Hardman, MUFG currencies strategist. This amendment would force the government to extend Article 50 to the end of this year if the government is unable to pass a Brexit agreement in parliament by February 26.

Mr Hardman said that if the Cooper amendment is passed:

the pound could strengthen further lifting cable towards the $1.3300-level. In contrast, there would be disappointment if the amendment fails which could result in cable falling back towards the 200-day moving average at $1.3050.

In the government bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year UK Gilt, which rises and falls inversely to demand for the security, was little changed at 1.276 per cent.


DUP back ‘Plan C’ compromise

Northern Ireland’s DUP, the unionist party that props up Mrs May’s government in Westminster, will endorse the so-called ‘Malthouse’ alternative Brexit plan – raised by government ministers Kit Malthouse and Stephen Hammond.

This plan, which has the backing of Brexit supporters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg as well as Pro-EU MPs including Nicky Morgan, would extend the transition period by a year to help the UK strike a free trade deal, and also renegotiate the Northern Irish backstop.

Arlene Foster, the DUP party leader pictured above next to Brexiter and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, said:

The DUP parliamentary group met this morning and discussed the ‘Malthouse’ alternative proposals for the draft withdrawal agreement. The DUP has given its endorsement to the plan. We believe it can unify a number of strands in the Brexit debate including the views of remainers and leavers.

It also gives a feasible alternative to the backstop proposed by the European Union which would split the United Kingdom or keep the entire United Kingdom in the Customs Union and Single Market. Importantly, this proposal would also offer a route towards negotiating a future trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

If the Prime Minister is seeking to find a united front, both between elements in her own party and the DUP, in the negotiations which she will enter with the European Union, then this is a proposition which she should not turn her back on.

There is no better time to advance this alternative given the confusion and disarray which is now manifesting itself in Brussels. This has been displayed both by the contradictory EU statements and the panic stricken behaviour of the Irish government.


Boris Johnson speaks out on the Irish border

The former foreign secretary and a key figurehead of the 2016 Leave campaign has said on Twitter that he will support an amendment proposed by Tory backbencher Graham Brady to re-open the Irish border question in future negotiations with Brussels. As prime minister Theresa May also backs this plan, Mr Johnson’s statement signals a rapprochement between the embattled Conservative leader and the Eurosceptic wing of her party.

But speaking on Twitter, Mr Johnson says any change to the Northern Irish backstop – a part of the withdrawal agreement loathed by Brexiters as it would prevent a hard Irish border but keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union – would need to be “legally binding” to win his support.

https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/1090204766544818177


Brexit debate delayed?

Commons business has started with Treasury questions, and this will now be followed by a ministerial statement on HMRC Estate transformation. Labour whips, using Twitter, said that this appeared to be a move to push back the start of the debate and reduce the time that MPs have ahead of the 7pm vote.

https://twitter.com/labourwhips/status/1090203432244441088


Malthouse Compromise gaining traction

Steve Baker, deputy chair of the Brexit-supporting ERG and one of the authors of the Malthouse proposal, said he believes “everyone is rallying to this plan”.

In an interview with Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said “we’ve come up with a plan that the party can unite around to get us out of the European Union on time, but with a functioning Conservative Party and therefore a functioning government”.

Baker said he had been working on the plan for a week, meeting with the Prime Minister several times, in a group including MPs Kit Malthouse, who convened the group, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nicky Morgan, Stephen Hammond and Robert Buckland. He added that a WhatsApp group of MPs had been created that showed “an overwhelming convergence on this proposal”.


Cabinet shifting towards Plan C compromise?

One official close to the Cabinet discussions said that Theresa May had expressed interest in the Malthouse plan at this morning’s scheduled meeting, according to the FT’s Laura Hughes. One of the ministers “left Cabinet convinced that No 10 will back” the proposals, they said.

To recap, the compromise plan spearheaded by Conservative MP Kit Malthouse(pictured) involves exiting the EU with a new Irish backstop – the controversial arrangement that currently prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland but keeps Northern Ireland in the EU customs union.

It also stipulates extending the Brexit transition for an extra year until December 2021, allowing more time to agree a new trading relationship.

In this period EU citizens’ rights would be guaranteed, budget contributions from Britain to the EU would continue and there would be no customs checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.


Labour backs Cooper clause to rule out no-deal Brexit

Labour has confirmed the party will whip – ie tell their MPs to vote in favour of – an amendment put forward by its own MP Yvette Cooper (pictured) that would aim to make sure the UK cannot leave the EU without a deal.

The Cooper amendment, which is one of many plans to tweak Mrs May’s hugely unpopular EU withdrawal plan, would set the prime minister a deadline of February 26 to secure parliamentary approval for a new deal. After this, MPs could request an extension to Article 50, the EU process under which the UK is due to leave the bloc on March 29 for up to nine months.

If parliament approved Ms Cooper’s amendment — and an accompanying bill — MPs could vote to request the Article 50 extension at the start of March.

A Labour source told the FT’s Laura Hughes:

We’re backing Cooper amendment to reduce threat of chaos of a no deal exit. The Cooper bill could give MPs temporary window to agree deal that can bring country together.

We aim to amend the Cooper bill to shorten [article 50] extension. The Cooper amendment says that if Mrs May has not got her deal passed by February 26, the Commons can vote for an extension of Article 50 for anything up to nine months.”

But some Labour MPs have also been telling our chief political correspondent Jim Pickard that the Cooper amendment has drawbacks.

Jim writes in from Westminster:

Some Labour MPs are sceptical about Labour’s backing for the Cooper amendment on the basis that it could be altered to shorten the possible Article 50 extension. “Three months is not long enough to achieve anything different, it plays into the hands of the ERG,” says one MP. “In that timeframe you can’t have another referendum, or an election, or pivot to Norway, you’re still stuck in the current trajectory to nowhere.”


Emoticon UK seeking to re-open EU withdrawal agreement

Theresa May has told her cabinet she plans to go to Brussels to reopen Britain’s withdrawal deal, in a dramatic move which will delight Tory Eurosceptics but which puts her on collision course with the rest of the EU.

This comes after parliament delivered a huge defeat to Mrs May in a vote on her original withdrawal agreement, and ahead of a Commons session this evening where various amendments to that original deal are due to be heard.

The FT’s political editor George Parker reports that Mrs May told ministers that the proposed treaty, negotiated with the EU over almost two years, would not pass through the House of Commons because of concerns over the contentious Irish backstop plan.

“Legal changes to the backstop will be required,” Mrs May’s spokesman said. “That means reopening the withdrawal agreement.”

Her announcement makes it likely that Eurosceptics will back Mrs May’s renegotiation strategy in key Commons votes on Tuesday, but it sets up a monumental battle with the EU, which has repeatedly made it clear the deal cannot be renegotiated.


Emoticon New deal deadline proposed

The prime minister confirmed at cabinet on Tuesday that she would try to renegotiate a new deal with the EU before February 13, although the FT’s George Parker writes that this timetable looks optimistic given her determination to reopen the withdrawal text.

In the event that no deal was ready by February 13, the prime minister said she would make a statement and put forward an amendable motion; that would give pro-European MPs a chance later in the process to try to halt a possible no-deal Brexit.

The vote on the motion would take place on the next sitting day in the House of Commons, Downing St said. Chancellor Philip Hammond, who opposes a no-deal exit, has spoken of the approach of a “high noon” moment.


May’s shifting stance

FT political correspondent Henry Mance points out that, just last month, Mrs May said reopening the EU withdrawal agreement she had struck with Brussels would be a bad idea. This, however, was before parliament voted by a huge majority against that deal.

In a December 4 parliamentary debate, Mrs May said:

I just ask those colleagues who wish to reopen the withdrawal agreement to recognise that were it to be reopened, it would not simply be a question of what the United Kingdom then wanted to change; it would also be a question of enabling others to change elements of that withdrawal agreement.

Given the rigorous fight that we had in the negotiations to ​ensure that there were certain elements that were in the interests of the United Kingdom, notably around fisheries and other issues, I caution hon. Members that not only has the EU made it clear that the withdrawal agreement cannot be reopened—we have agreed the deal and the deal is there—but it is not the one-way street that hon. Members would perhaps wish it to be.

Here is a picture of Mrs May speaking in a Commons debate on December 4, when she said emphatically she would not re-open the withdrawal discussions.


Brussels clash awaits

Brussels has said that a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement was not on the table – setting up a clash if Mrs May tries to reopen the terms of the UK’s exit deal.

“We’re not going to reopen the agreement,” Sabine Weyand, deputy chief EU Brexit negotiator, said on Monday.

Mrs May was expected to speak to EU counterparts by phone on Tuesday to explain her new approach.

A spokesman for Theresa May was unable to say why the prime minister thought that Brussels would now bow to demands by Tory Eurosceptics for a renegotiated Irish backstop – the insurance mechanism to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

But he said: “There has been a very clear message from the EU’s leaders that they want us to leave with a deal and this is in the best interest of the EU as well as the UK.”

Downing St admitted that Mrs May was still concerned that any attempt to reopen the deal could see the EU make its own demands on Britain, including on the issue of fish and Gibraltar.


Sterling ticks higher

Britain’s currency hovered near its highest level of the day following news that prime minister Theresa May will try to hammer out a new Brexit deal with the EU before February 13, Adam Samson writes.

Around lunchtime in London, sterling was up 0.1 per cent on the euro, buying 1.1519 units of the common currency. It had traded as weak as 1.1481 euros per pound during morning dealings. The pound was little changed on the US dollar, recently at $1.3158.


Labour seeks three month Article 50 delay

Labour’s John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, has just given an impromptu press conference with lobby journalists after Treasury questions – a few minutes after Labour announced it would back the Cooper amendment which aims to block no-deal Brexit.

Labour wants to limit any extension of Article 50 negotiating period to just three months – rather than the original nine months proposed by Yvette Cooper – writes the FT’s Jim Pickard.

McDonnell said that he didn’t want Labour to give the impression – especially to Leave voters – that they wanted to “kick the can down the road”. Instead the priority was giving the government more space to achieve an exit with a deal.

Critics of a delay include Jon Trickett, shadow Cabinet Office minister, who is worried about the signal that this would send out. McDonnell said: “What Jon was saying is that people shouldn’t interpret this as Labour kicking the can down the road, it’s about being clear we are opposed to no deal but flexible about allowing an alternative.”


May’s swerve ‘a total farce’

Labour MP Liz Kendall has taken to Twitter to ridicule the prime minister for pledging to reopen Brexit negotiations with Brussels after saying last month that she would definitely not do this. Ms Kendall points out Mrs May has also told her MPs to back an amendment to her deal by Tory backbencher Graham Brady that seeks to rewrite the controversial Irish backstop provision in the withdrawal agreement that would keep the border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland open.

https://twitter.com/leicesterliz/status/1090233295462387713


Choice of amendments coming up

Shortly, Commons speaker John Bercow will announce which of the various amendments proposed by MPs to alter prime minister Theresa May’s hugely unpopular Brexit deal will be chosen for parliament to vote on.

The amendents put forward include a Tory plan spearheaded by backbencher Graham Brady to replace the Irish backstop with an unspecified alternative, a proposal by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to extend the deadline for leaving the EU to stop a no-deal exit and a Labour frontbench plan for alternatives including staying in the EU customs union.

Mrs May is backing the Brady amendment that would replace the backstop provision agreed with Brussels to keep the Irish border open with something else.

The FT’s political editor George Parker observes that now Mrs May has also pledged to reopen her withdrawal talks with Brussels, Tory Eurosceptics and the Northern Irish DUP – the small party that props up Mrs May’s government in Westminster – could back the Brady amendment too.

Lost track of the amendments and what they could mean? Read our Whitehall editor James Blitz’s round-up here. Meanwhile, we have been chuckling at think tank boss William Wright’s take on the various proposals:

https://twitter.com/Williamw1/status/1090178267045380096


Brussels talks heading for deadlock

Theresa May called Jean-Claude Juncker to brief the European Commission president on her hardline new stance on Brexit negotiations on Tuesday lunchtime, reports the FT’s George Parker.

British officials said the 10 minute call was “fairly cordial” but it ended in deadlock, as they said was to be expected.

“We want to reopen the agreement and they don’t,” said the British official.


Brady and Cooper amendments selected

Commons speaker John Bercow has picked two of the most eagerly watched amendments: the Brady amendment that will replace the Irish backstop and the Cooper amendment that will seek to delay the date of Brexit to secure a different deal.


Theresa May addresses MPs

The prime minister is now talking to the Commons about her latest plans to win over MPs to a Brexit deal.

Mrs May said that it was clear that MPs had not backed her existing deal, but that MPs needed to send an “emphatic message about what we do want”.

She said that MPs needed to reach an agreement that worked for the “country and our people”, and listening to the message being sent by the manufacturing firms that they need an implementation period and trading agreement.


More amendments chosen

The Commons speaker has also given his blessing to a number of amendments that, like that put forward by the Labour Party and its MP Yvette Cooper, seek to stop or wind back the clock on Brexit to stop the UK crashing out of Europe without a deal on March 29.

They are:

A proposal by longstanding Tory MP Caroline Spelman that the UK will not leave the EU without a deal.

Another by the Scottish National Party’s Ian Blackford that calls on Mrs May to note the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Commons all voted “overwhelmingly” to reject her deal.

And one put forward by cross-party group of Remainer MPs, led by Labour’s Rachel Reeves, which seeks a two-year extension of article 50 if there is not a deal in place by 26 February.


May calls for unity

The only way to avoid no deal is to agree a deal, she tells MPs, referring to the amendments being proposed.


May: a new deal and a new vote

Mrs May is now saying she needs to go back to Brussels to send “the clearest possible message”, not about “what this House doesn’t want,” but about what it actually wants.

“We will bring a revised deal back to this House for a second meaningful vote” as soon as possible, the prime minister adds.

If we have not brought a revised deal back to this House by February 13, there will be a new debate, she adds.


And if Brussels says no?

Pete Wishart, of the SNP, asks Mrs May “what happens if the EU says no to her again.”

He has a point. Senior Brussels officials have been saying all week that a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement is not on the table.

Other MPs question why Mrs May is pledging a new deal and a new vote when the various amendments put forward to tweak her original deal with buy Parliament more time and negotiating space – if Brussels allows.

Labour’s Wes Streeting argues that Mrs May needs time and the opportunity for the House to agree on the negotiating mandate, which several amendments proposed by MPs to her original withdrawal treaty have already suggested.

Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve also argues that “this House has never had the opportunity to debate options” and is being asked to “adopt a measure the government has signed up to at the last moment.”Mr Grieve has proposed an amendment to the withdrawal treaty that would give the House space to decide what kind of Brexit parliament wants.


Sterling gains

Our head of FastFT Adam Samson reports:

Sterling added to its gains after Commons speaker John Bercow chose two key amendments for debate and vote.

The UK currency was recently up 0.2 per cent on the US dollar at $1.3186, trading near the high of the day. It was up by a similar margin against the common currency, at 1.1544 euro to the pound.

Mr Bercow selected the Brady amendment that will replace the Irish backstop and the Cooper amendment that will seek to delay the date of Brexit to secure a different deal.

Both legal maneuvers have garnered attention among investors and analysts, with markets increasingly confident a chaotic no-deal Brexit is unlikely.


May dismisses amendments

The prime minister says she has profound doubts about the Cooper and Grieve amendments.

Both of these, put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative Dominic Grieve respectively, push for parliament to have more time to organise Brexit.

Mrs May says that there is “an opportunity give a clear message” to the EU, adding that there is a willingness among EU leaders to agree a deal with the UK – but they want to know what it is the UK wants. The British people also now want to see it done, she adds.

Extending article 50, she says, does not rule out no deal.


Can May’s new deal be struck in time?

Labour’s Yvette Cooper, who is pushing for parliament to ask Brussels for a later leaving date from Europe than the current deadline of March 29, is arguing that Mrs May will run out of time to reopen talks with the EU.

The prime minister is saying that “there will be an opportunity for parliament to have some future votes”, Ms Cooper points out. She then asks whether this means an extension of the Article 50 legislation triggered on March 29 2017, which gave Britain two years to leave.

“Delay without a plan is not a solution, its a road to nowhere,” Mrs May responds.

But she also promises to be more flexible in the short days she has left.

“After this house gave its verdict on the withdrawal agreement I stood at the dispatch box and pledged” to work out the next steps, Mrs May says.

“We must be more flexible open and inclusive in how we engage this House.”

She adds that the government will not allow departure from the EU without keeping the bloc’s environmental and employment standards.

She adds that there has been an “unequivocal” message from the House that the Irish backstop agreed with Brussels – which prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland after Britain leaves the EU – needs to be changed and will be negotiated with Europe.


Emoticon May to reopen Brexit deal

The prime minister says she will seek significant and legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement to address concerns over the Irish backstop.

She says that the fundamental concern is that what should be a temporary arrangement will become permanent, and so backs the amendment put forward by backbencher Graham Brady to replace the Irish backstop with an unspecified alternative.

She said that reopening the withdrawal agreement would have limited appetite among European partners but with mandate from this house “I can secure such a change”.


Brexit and jobs

Mrs May is now pledging that her new deal will protect jobs and workers’ rights, adding that she has been in discussions with the traditionally Labour Party-supporting trade unions.

Labour’s Melanie Onn reminds Mrs May that she has been pushing for workers’ rights guarantees since 2017.


May: we can change the backstop

Opposition MPs are questioning how exactly a hard border with Ireland could be avoided post-Brexit if the customs border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland isn’t kept open.

Mrs May says that there are viable technological solutions to this, without specifying what they are.

This is a claim long made by Brexiters, which has prompted scorn among Remainers and Brussels officials.


Labour backs 4 amendments

Our chief political corespondent Jim Pickard reports:

Labour are backing four of the amendments: Cooper, Spelman, Reeves and – perhaps surprisingly – Grieve. The Grieve amendment would allow the Commons to take part in indicative votes on potential options to break the deadlock.

My colleague Seb Payne points out that John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, told the FT back in December that indicative votes would be a mistake. Back then McDonnell said: “The idea of indicative votes is just to run the clock down even further towards March 29. People aren’t that gullible. They’ve seen through that.”


May: “If you want Brexit you have to vote for Brexit”

The prime minister concludes with a rallying cry for MPs, saying that she has witnessed “division and discord”, “passion and anger”.. but also a “growing recognition of the task entrusted to us”..

She says she is in reach of a deal that the house can stand behind but when she seeks the changes that MPs demands she needs them behind her.

“This house needs to speak as one,” she says. “I will never stop battling for Britain.” But the “odds are much longer” if the house ties her hands behind her back.

It is time for “words to be matched by deeds.. if you want Brexit you have to vote for Brexit”.


Corbyn: We cannot wish away Leavers’ votes

Jeremy Corbyn is now responding to Mrs May. He says it is right that MPs should decide the way forward in delivering the referendum result. But MPs must seek to unite people, not to stoke xenophobia and stoke racial divisions.

Many communities have been neglected for too long, he says. These are not issues that face Britain alone; they would be recognisable across the world. So the first duty we have is to block a disastrous no-deal and I hope the amendments to that effect will be carried this evening, he says.


Corbyn: Give Parliament time

Labour’s amendment calls for Parliament to be given sufficient time to find the best Brexit, Mr Corbyn says. It is clear that this country is not ready to leave on 29 March. Even if the prime minister’s deal attained a majority next month, there is no time for primary and secondary legislation including over 600 statutory instruments to clear the House before 29 March.

Protecting jobs and industries requires a customs union, Mr Corbyn says.


Corbyn: The fault lies with the prime minister

The fault for not achieving a satisfactory deal lies with Mrs May, says Mr Corbyn. She missed her own deadline to have a deal agreed by October. She suffered the worst defeat by any government in British history.

There is then some wrangling over Parliamentary procedure and a number of interventions and points of order, which take some time.


Fractious exchanges

Is the prime minister seriously telling the House that we have to wait until 13 February, Mr Corbyn says. He then accuses Tory MPs who keep trying to intervene of not wanting to let the debate take place. Speaker Bercow tells off the government chief whip for his behaviour. Tory MP Nadine Dorries accuses Mr Corbyn of sexism for not taking interventions from female MPs. It is all getting very fractious.


Corbyn: crashing out would be ‘devastating’

Mr Corbyn asks whether the prime minister seriously thinks that she can achieve in the next couple of weeks what she hasn’t achieved in the last couple of years. He also accuses the prime minister of handing peerages out in exchange for votes.

She is asking this House to vote again, while opposing a second referendum, he says.

The government is reckless in risking the UK crashing out without a deal, Mr Corbyn says, quoting the CBI as saying the effect would be “devastating”. The Federation of Small Businesses, the trade unions and all opposition parties are opposed to no deal.

He quotes the chancellor as saying that no-deal would be irresponsible. The home secretary has called for a free vote on Yvette Cooper’s amendment and Labour will back that amendment.

In backing Ms Cooper’s amendment, we are backing a short window to allow time for renegotiation, Mr Corbyn says.


Cooper intervenes

Yvette Cooper intervenes to say that her amendment aims not to fix a particular time limit, but to give the House the ability to do so at the end of February.

Mr Corbyn says that clearly this amendment has the effect of ruling out no-deal on 29 March, which would be good. It would be no comfort after 29 March to say ‘I told you so’ when lorries are backing up on the motorway and cancer patients cannot get the drugs they need. Tonight we have the opportunity to take no deal off the table, Mr Corbyn says.

If the House votes to remove that threat, he will then be happy to meet the prime minister to discuss a sensible solution that works for the whole country, Mr Corbyn says.


MPs opposed to no-deal

Here is an updated graphic by FT interactive journalist Martin Stabe that shows which MPs are opposed to the UK leaving the EU on March 29 without a transition deal.

As you can see, it includes a large number of MPs from the main opposition Labour Party.

At least 283 MPs have publicly declared their opposition to a no-deal Brexit — with 53 more signalling they could also defy Theresa May over the issue. The figures indicate the strength of parliamentary support for measures to avoid crashing out of the EU without an agreement. Read more here


Corbyn: PM must accept A50 extension would be responsible

An extension to Article 50 would be a responsible measure to find a deal that can command the support of the House, Mr Corbyn says.

Labour’s amendment tonight aims to find a workable deal – that means a customs union and no race to the bottom on workers’ rights, environmental protection or consumer standards. Michel Barnier has been clear that the European Council will be ready to give a favourable response if the UK wants to go beyond a simple trade deal. Accepting the case for a permanent customs union would help to solve the problem of the backstop. The backstop is there because of the red lines put down by the UK at the start of this process, Mr Corbyn says.

We still have no clarity on what changes to the backstop the government wants, or which of its red lines it will change to get them.

We are witnessing the long slow decline of this government, Mr Corbyn says. They are running down the clock. The prime minister is still to answer the question of which of her red lines she is prepared to change. The obstacle to a solution is the prime minister, he says.

In the absence of any leadership from the prime minister, solutions are being put from across the House. Not only do we need full access to the single market but a customs union too, and that has long been Labour’s policy, Mr Corbyn says. it is a pragmatic solution that helps deliver the Brexit people voted for and is a solution to the Irish backstop and delivers a majority across the House for a deal.


Labour’s stance has also shifted

Theresa May insisted last month that reopening the withdrawal deal she agreed with Brussels was not advisable, before saying today that this is now what she plans to do.

But as our political commentator Sebastian Payne points out on Twitter, the Labour stance on certain Brexit issues is also changing.

He says that Labour is now behind a plan by Tory rebel Dominic Grieve for indicative votes on Brexit. This voting system, which is a non-binding test of the will of the Commons on certain issues, is something that shadow chancellor John McDonnell said last month would be a waste of time and a method of “running down the clock” towards March 29.

https://twitter.com/SebastianEPayne/status/1090254169636827136


Corbyn: PM’s deal fails to deliver frictionless trade

The political declaration fails to deliver frictionless trade, it does not even guarantee tariff free trade, Mr Corbyn says. We lose the trade agreements we have through the EU.

Further interventions and plenty of shouting erupt as Mr Corbyn accuses Michael Gove of displaying his leadership ambitions. The Speaker John Bercow ticks the rambunctious MPs off, accusing them of an orchestrated attempt to shout him down.

Ex-Labour MP Frank Field warns that the general public do not understand the obstreperous behaviour of MPs, and it is damaging to Parliament in the eyes of the public.

After another Tory backbench intervention, Mr Corbyn resumes, saying that Liam Fox has failed to replicate the trade agreements that the UK enjoys as part of the EU, despite the bold claims he made at the start of the Brexit process.

The government is split from top to bottom, in denial about the majority view in the House in favour of ruling out no deal and getting a deal that includes the customs union, Mr Corbyn says. Labour will tonight back amendments which give the House to recognise that reality. The government’s shambolic handling of Brexit is fast becoming a crisis. It is worrying to business and to people who work. There is no leadership from the government which has demonstrated it has no ability to deliver a deal and no willingness to listen to Parliament and no acceptance that they must change course. Still they are arguing among themselves and failing to come up with a workable solution.

I hope this House tonight leads where the government has failed, he says.


Clarke: we face a crisis

Former chancellor Ken Clarke calls this an almost unique political crisis. First we’re trying to break a political deadlock on what changes we should make across the great majority of our relationships with the rest of the world. We also face a constitutional crisis about the credibility of government and Parliament.

He agrees with Frank Field – he enjoys the rowdiness of the Commons but we ought to be aware that the public is looking upon our political system with something akin to contempt. It is clear to them that nobody seems able to resolve the question first raised by the referendum. Referenda are designed to bypass parliamentary decision making.

The prime minister seems to accept that the government should give the House the opportunity to debate key aspects of policy and the government should have regard to the views of the House, Mr Clarke says:

In the last month or two I have listened to what I regard as the most extraordinary nonsense about people objecting to the Speaker selecting amendments for the vote. There is a fundamental underlying problem here. It started with the Blair government; Tony Blair could never see why he had to submit to Parliament.

Mr Clarke is running through the various Parliamentary wranglings which MPs have had to engage in, in order to participate in the Brexit process. He is reminding MPs that the government has resisted the oversight of MPs at every step.

It now seems that whatever course we decide on today, matters will come back to this House – no deal will be ratified until we have had a vote in this House. If this House expresses a clear wish about the nature of the deal that it wants to see negotiated, then the government will consider – indeed I believe under our constitution it is bound to follow – the wishes of the House of Commons.

The government has to give a far bigger role to the House, which puts responsibility on the House to create the cross party majority which I believe is the only majority that is available here as a sensible majority for going forward.

In the British constitution referendums are advisory, Mr Clarke says, but this House bound itself to obeying the result. A massive majority was cast for invoking Article 50 and so I accept that this House has decided we are leaving the EU. But we did not agree to leave unconditionally, whatever the circumstances. We wasted at least the first 18 months because nobody here had thought in a detailed way about what we were going to seek as an alternative.


Clarke: ‘state of chaos’

Theresa May’s agreement with the EU negotiators was perfectly harmless and obvious, Mr Clarke says. The backstop is an important defence in the interests of the open border in Ireland and it seems absurd to re-open that. The prime minister is not going to break our treaty commitments and set back our relationship with the Republic of Ireland for another generation. But what is this vague alternative to a perfectly acceptable backstop which we are now going to explore? Our partners in the EU can’t understand what we want either.

Here is what I will vote for, Mr Clarke says: anything that avoids leaving with no deal on 29 March. It is perfectly obvious that we are in a state of such chaos that we are not going to answer these questions in the next 60 days. We need more time. There are problems with the European Parliament elections, but we could revoke A50 to give us the time to resolve these issues. The alternative is to stay in the union for as long as it takes to get near to a deal we are likely to be able to agree on and the majority of us think is in the national interest.

I will also support anything that involves open borders and free trade, Mr Clarke says, with the economic wellbeing of future generations at heart. The only way to do that is to stay in the customs union. I don’t mind if my colleagues prefer to call the single market and the customs union by other names, he says. It is the obvious and only way to protect the open border in Ireland. If the whole UK has an open border with the EU you wouldn’t need this ridiculous backstop, he says; it was only invented to appease the people who decided we should leave with no deal before we had concluded negotiations.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, an independent unionist for Northern Ireland, intervenes to say that protecting the Belfast Agreement and the peace in Northern Ireland is vital. The backstop is vital for that.

Mr Clarke says he does not wish to see the breakup of the UK.

In his final remarks, he adds that the government should not resist indicative votes. We have been trying to get a debate and a vote on some issues for months and the government continues to make it difficult. He complains about the government imposing three line whips on indicative votes. The indicative votes mean that in the time available we get an expression of will, an instruction to the government about the nature of the longterm arrangement we want.

To restore confidence on our political institutions, we have got to ensure an outcome emerges. If we do not, I hate to think where populism and extremism will take British democracy next, Mr Clarke concludes.


Top US intelligence say no deal Brexit will weaken UK and Europe

Reuters reports that Dan Coats, US Director of National Intelligence, has warned US lawmakers in Washington today of economic disruptions if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

Speaking to the US Senate Intelligence Committee on the subject of “worldwide threats,” he said:

This would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the UK and Europe


Blackford: respect the people of Scotland

Ian Blackford of the SNP is now addressing MPs. He says that during the Scottish independence referendum, those who voted no were told it would involve Scotland remaining in the EU. Where is the respect for the people of Scotland? He asks. They have made their feelings clear that they want to remain in the EU.

Banks based in Scotland are setting up bases in other parts of the EU, he says.

Scotland must no longer be left at the mercy of events. Scotland must have the right to determine its own future, to choose to be an independent nation within the EU. Scotland needs the power to take its own decisions. That is the only way we can stop the Tories driving us off the cliff edge and into disaster, he says.

The material change of circumstances since the Scottish independence referendum demands a fresh referendum and there is a majority in favour of that in the Scottish Parliament, he says. This House must respect the will of the Scottish people.

Labour has lost its moral compass and is stuck on the sidelines, Mr Blackford says. Scottish Tories act against our national interest. The UK government has been ignoring the views of the Scottish Parliament, our parliament. Today SNP MPs will continue to vote down the blindfold Brexit that will drive our economy off the edge.

The prime minister’s deal has been dead in the water for months and yet the PM is still trying to run down the clock; this is reckless.


Dublin warns of “substantial slowdown” in event of no deal Brexit

Paschal Donohoe, Ireland’s finance minister, unveiled forecasts that suggest growth would slow sharply and unemployment rise if the UK left the EU in March without a deal. Growth could be slashed from 3.6 per cent next year to below 1 per cent in such circumstances, Dublin said.

The finance ministry warned of a “further worsening” in the public finances and job prospects.

By 2023, total employment would increase by around 178,000, but this would be some 55,000 below the budget 2019 forecast. Employment in 2020 would still be higher than this year – but by a smaller amount.”

Mr Donohoe also insisted Dublin would not support any change to the Irish border backstop in an interview with the FT before Theresa May stood up in the Commons and announced she planned to go back to Brussels and seek to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement to renegotiate the contentious guarantee.


Blackford: don’t play with fire

None of us should be playing with fire by seeking to unwind the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Blackford says; that is grossly irresponsible and playing with fire.

The prime minister should remove the threat of food shortages today. It is the height of irresponsibility for the government to refuse to rule that out.

Mrs May is in office but not in power, he says. She is past her sell-by date. We cannot allow the UK government to run down the clock and bully MPs into backing this deal. Pretending there is no choice other than no deal or her deal is reckless. MPs must have the courage to stand up to that.

MPs’ job is to protect the economic interests of our citizens, and Brexit is going to lead to job losses across the UK. It is the height of irresponsibility for politicians based on ideology to threaten the wellbeing of UK citizens.

We have still not seen any economic assessment of the government’s deal, he says. Why won’t the government publish it? We are being asked again to vote blindfold without facts and analysis about what the government’s deal means for our economy; it is an insult to this House.


Amendments analysis

As the debate continues, the FT’s Sebastian Payne has analysed the chances of success for each of the seven amendments that MPs will vote on this evening regarding Mrs May’s Brexit plans – all of which have the potential to reshape Brexit. Here in seven separate posts is a breakdown of what they mean and their chances of success:

1. Labour party
This amendment calls for changes to the Brexit deal to “secure a permanent customs union” and protecting workers’ rights, regulations and standards in line with the EU. It also allows for the option, possibly, of putting that deal back to the British people in another referendum.

Chances of passing: nil. No Conservative MPs will vote for this amendment, Labour does not have a majority in the House so it will not go anywhere. 67 MPs have signed up to it.


2. Scottish National Party

The SNP is rejecting the prime minister’s Brexit deal, calling for an unspecified extension to the Article 50 process while ruling out a no-deal outcome. It also says that the will of Scottish voters should be respected in this process.

Chances of passing: nil. With just 37 signatures, all from the SNP, it is hard to see any other parties voting for this.


3. Dominic Grieve

The former attorney general’s amendment would allow the House of Commons to fully take control of Brexit. Every Tuesday between now and the end of March, this amendment would allow MPs to control the agenda of the Commons – allowing time for a series of votes on different forms of Brexit. This is often referred to as the “indicative votes”.

Chances of passing: rising. 115 MPs have signed the amendment. Mr Grieve has cross-party support. Plus Labour has just announced it is supporting this amendment, meaning its chances of success have increased. This would, in effect, kill off any chances of a hard Brexit – given the lack of support among MPs.


4. Yvette Cooper and Nick Boles

All eyes are on this joint amendment by Labour’s Ms Cooper and the Tories’ Mr Boles. This would give the May government until February 26 to come up with a Brexit plan. If it still does not have a passable deal by then, a bill will be tabled that will extend Article 50 – possibly by up to nine months. In effect, this would force the government to avoid a cliff-edge exit at the end of March.

Chances of passing: probable but it is very tight. 140 MPs have signed up to the amendment. Labour is backing it, plus there are plenty of Tories planning to vote for it. But there are also some Labour MPs representing northern constituencies who are reluctant to vote for it, worried that their support will be used to as proof that they are somehow thwarting Brexit.


5. Rachel Reeves

Another cross-party amendment by this Labour backbencher to request a two-year extension to Article 50. Speaker Bercow, however, has said that if Ms Cooper’s amendment fails then this one will too.

Chances of passing: limited. 120 MPs are on board, but few Tories. MPs are willing to extend Article 50 but continuing the talks until 2021 creates logistical challenges both in Westminster and Brussels.


6. Caroline Spelman

Another Conservative backbench amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit. It does not, however, specify any alternative arrangements. This could serve as a useful method of demonstrating how opposed the House of Commons is to leaving the EU without a deal.

Chances of passing: very much depends on the success (or failure) of the last two. 158 MPs have signed up to this amendment, but Ms Cooper’s amendment will be voted on first. Were it to succeed, the Spelman amendment will become meaningless.


7. Sir Graham Brady

This amendment has garnered much excitement in Westminster. Sir Graham, head of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs (which represents the interest of backbenchers), has placed an amendment calling for the Irish border backstop to be junked and replaced with “alternative arrangements”. This amendment is critical for the prime minister to demonstrate to Brussels that her deal could pass if the backstop was changed. But after two years of negotiations, there is little proof that the EU would be willing to scrap the backstop.

Chances of passing: close. Conservative MPs of all persuasions have been piling up to say they will back Sir Graham, including 71 who have signed the amendment. Theresa May is endorsing it, as is her governing partners the Democratic Unionist party. But opposition MPs are unlikely to side with a Tory motion, so its success depends on the government benches – particularly the hardline Brexiters.


Backbench speeches

The House of Commons has now moved on to speeches by backbenchers, and a number of MPs have already spoken.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said that a delay to Brexit is not necessary. The European Commission has said it does not want a delay because it would mean that Brexit runs over the European Parliament elections in May, he says. It is not clear what MPs want a deal for.

Mr Duncan Smith says that, having voted against the withdrawal agreement, he will support Sir Graham Brady’s amendment tonight. Not because he is giving a blank cheque but because he believes it is necessary to send the PM back to Brussels with a sense that the House wants her to renegotiate and deliver Brexit on time.

Yvette Cooper speaks about her amendment, which will be voted on tonight. She wants a good Brexit deal that commands support across the country, but she sees no sign of that so far. And she is worried about business warnings about the consequences of a cliff edge. Her amendment will give a safety net to prevent the cliff edge on 29 March. She had always believed that the PM would avoid the cliff edge but now she is becoming concerned. She addresses the no-deal advocates, saying that people will suffer if this House permits no deal. The money that is going into no-deal provisions should be going into social care, she says. Tariffs on food will hit the poorest families hardest.

It has become hard to have a commonsense debate without words being twisted, Ms Cooper says. We cannot be cowardly about this – the PM is running out of time, everyone knows it and we should be honest about it. so people should support this amendment.


Grieve: ‘we are mired in complete paralysis’

Dominic Grieve, who has also tabled an amendment to be voted on tonight, tells MPs that ‘we are mired in complete analysis’. The PM’s deal is probably the best available, but neither hardline Brexiters nor I can support it. We could do with more days of debate until we reach agreement. Although I support a second referendum, I’m aware many other MPs don’t. Letting the country exit on terms that almost nobody supports and which look pretty bad for our future would be an abdication of our responsibility. It is quite clear that this House utterly rejects no deal and so I will vote for those amendments too, he says.

On Sir Graham Brady’s amendment, Mr Grieve says it is very tempting to be able to vote together as a party because the Tories are deeply divided on Brexit. But, he says, the truth is that the backstop is just the outward sign of a much more profound truth, that ever since the UK signed up to the Good Friday Agreement we have bound ourselves to keep an open border. That is incompatible with the aim of some of my colleagues who want to diverge on tariffs and regulation and therefore inevitably a hard border has to be introduced. Therefore, he calls Sir Graham’s amendment “displacement activity” – something which we often see young children doing when asked to do something they do not like. There is a lack of trust about Britain’s future intentions and the nature of our state and how we relate to those around us.


Benn: we face a crisis

Hillary Benn, the Labour chairman of the Brexit select committee, says that people are anxious about what is going to happen to our country. We now know Mrs May is not for turning on the political declaration but she seeks to change the backstop. I doubt the EU is for turning on this issue, he says. The PM will have to return to the House to say she could not deliver a change to the backstop. It is very hard to see what the PM can come back with and it is odd we are spending so much time on the backstop when we really ought to be debating the future relationship.

If we are going to make any progress, people are going to have to compromise, Mr Benn says. His select committee came to the conclusion that managed no-deal is not viable. The damage inflicted, the sheer practical difficulty, means it cannot possibly be contemplated. Businesses do not want tariffs, bureaucracy, delays and checks.

Whatever happens, it is quite clear now we are going to need more time and one day the PM will have to stand at the despatch box and say she is asking for an extension of A50. We should ask the EU to negotiate the details of the future relationship now.


Spelman: stop no-deal

Dame Caroline Spelman is speaking about her amendment. The lives of my constituents have been transformed by the manufacturing revival, and the EU is the biggest export destination, she says. We are already losing jobs. We are against no-deal Brexit.

The government says no-deal is not its policy, so let’s rule it out, she says. We could offer to take no-deal off the table in exchange for concessions from the EU that would get the deal over the line in Parliament. The deal may not be perfect but local businesses tell me it’s good enough and works for them.

If we agree no-deal is not an option then it is incumbent on all party leaders to ensure that is the case. We should keep delay to a minimum. My amendment does not call for a delay. We know there is a majority for no to no-deal. This is a simple vote on whether colleagues support no-deal or not.

The public are weary of the Brexit debate; they want us to come together in the national interest and we can do that by voting no to no-deal. We need to be respectful, I am a peace-maker and I urge all parties to come together on all sides of the House in a burst of pragmatism, she concludes.


Cable: risk of fuelling ugly nationalism

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable says that the people watching the debate want MPs to be calm and constructive. Agreeing that no deal is not acceptable is the key thing, and a number of amendments address that, he says. We should support them.

The issue we have to address is why this whole concept of no deal is out there – it is a choice. It isn’t something being imposed on the UK. The UK has the legal authority to stop it. If it isn’t stopped, that is a choice. It is out there because there is a complex game of chicken going on, to frighten the EU and wavering MPs. It has certainly had an effect in frightening business.

We have no explanation from the government about what these alternative arrangements might be. The government is going to go back to the EU and the EU will have to say no. Then the government will come back here and there will be another round of anger. Some people will blame the EU for pushing us out, fuelling the ugly nationalism lurking behind the surface.

We talk about no deal as though it is a hypothetical possibility, but actually it is very real. Businesses all say that no deal is already happening now. Contracts are being cancelled, inventory is piling up, travel is being cancelled. Companies are absorbing that cost but in a few months the economic impact is going to be very real. There is a real danger now of panic taking hold in the same way as it did in the financial crisis. The longer we leave no-deal on the table, the greater the chance of that.

The PM says that a second referendum would stoke social tensions but would it do so more than the social tensions caused by a no deal Brexit? He concludes.


Brady: Article 50 delay would erode UK’s negotiating position

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tories’ backbench 1922 committee, is speaking about his amendment. It is the first time he has tabled an amendment and then won the support of a prime minister for it, he says. He will oppose amendments that seek to delay A50, he says. Those who seek delay risk removing the moment of decision which brings greater focus to the negotiations. It has been palpable in the last couple of weeks that we have seen a greater willingness to be flexible from the EU side, he says.

He tabled his amendment partly because of the fact that the Tories don’t have an overall majority, it was going to be necessary to compromise. The withdrawal agreement contains one compromise too far – the possibility that the backstop could become permanent. That was the reason why many MPs could not support the PM’s agreement.

A fashionable view has taken hold that there is no majority for anything, but I do not believe that is true, Sir Graham says. I hope to demonstrate there is an agreement which can win majority support in the House and so we can send the PM back to Brussels having strengthened her hand.


Reeves: a delay would help government get a better deal

Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP, is speaking about her amendment. She wants to rule out leaving without a deal and so by extending A50, we can achieve that.

What unites business is a determination not to crash out with no deal, she says. Her amendment gives the government the space it needs to get a better deal. Extending A50 if we get to 26 February without a deal would give us the time we desperately need to get this right – it is the exact opposite of the dangerous strategy of running down the clock.

Her amendment still means the PM can come back to the House and get her deal through Parliament. It ensures the PM has time to secure agreement but provides for further time if it is needed. She has not specified how much time – it would be up to the government to seek that and agree it with the EU.

We must put aside the other competing demands on us and act in the national interest, she says.


Raab: Cooper amendment could be Trojan horse for stop-Brexit

Dominic Raab, the shortlived Brexit secretary, is now speaking. He says there are two key amendments. Yvette Cooper’s amendment is a Pandora’s box because it would mandate an A50 extension of nine months, that the EU has already ruled out.

Ms Cooper intervenes to say she did not set out any particular length of time and that can be made clearer if necessary.

Mr Raab says the amendment does not set out the approach that the UK should pursue in the event of an extension; it is therefore a blindfold approach. Her amendment would kick the can down the road, he says. She has said it is amendable – that would lead to fears that it is a ruse to frustrate Brexit.

Nick Boles, the Tory MP who is tabling the amendment alongside Ms Cooper, rises to rebut Mr Raab’s critique. It is scurrilous to suggest there is a hidden plot to revoke Brexit, he says.

Mr Raab says that it could encourage the EU at the 11th hour to delay in the hope that the UK will settle for worse terms, and it undermines the PM at the point we need to reinforce her hand.

He then turns to the Brady amendment. The government should have tabled an amendment of its own, he says. The PM has assured that the changes she will seek will be legally binding and the revised deal will come back to the House for another vote. He will therefore support the Brady amendment, he says, because he wants to send the PM back to Brussels with a strong sense of what the House will accept.


Dodds: back Brady amendment

Nigel Dodds of Northern Ireland’s DUP rises to speak. He says that the DUP will support the Brady amendment. The fact that the PM is seeking legally binding changes is a powerful reason to back the amendment. There is a way through the current deadlock, he says, but some of the options in other amendments simply don’t command a majority and we have to be realistic.

He insists the DUP wants a deal rather than a no deal outcome. But the idea of taking no deal off the table is more likely to result in a no deal outcome than anything else because it would ensure the EU holds out and gives nothing in the negotiations, he argues.

He repeats his party’s position that the backstop is damaging to the union. The DUP supports Theresa May’s minority government with a majority in Westminster.


ERG to meet at 6pm to discuss position on Brady amendment

After Theresa May announced plans to reopen negotiations on her Brexit treaty with the EU — a dramatic move that will delight Tory Eurosceptics but which puts her on a collision course with the rest of the bloc – it looks like the Brady amendment, which she supports, is gaining support. The amendment calls for the Irish border backstop to be junked and replaced with an unspecified “alternative arrangements”. Sky’s Beth Rigby says on Twitter that the European Research Group of hardline Tory Brexiters are meeting at 6pm to decide their position on Brady. She tweets that “one (quite hardline) Brexiteer tells me they minded to back her on this. 1] Gives her two more weeks 2] If gets knocked back, its Brussels fault we’re moving to No Deal, not the Brexiteers…….”

https://twitter.com/BethRigby/status/1090296371217920000


Will Brady amendment pave way for Malthouse compromise?

Now that there appears to be growing support among MPs for the Brady amendment it is becoming more likely that the compromise plan spearheaded by Conservative MP Kit Malthouse could start to gain traction after tonight’s votes. It is not being debated by MPs today but already has the backing of the DUP and involves exiting the EU with a new Irish backstop.

It also stipulates extending the Brexit transition for an extra year until December 2021, allowing more time to agree a new trading relationship.

In this period EU citizens’ rights would be guaranteed, budget contributions from Britain to the EU would continue and there would be no customs checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Of course this all depends on the EU27 agreeing to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement, which they have refused to do so far.


Blood donations stopped in parts of Kent

NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) has said this afternoon that it has cancelled blood donations in Dover and Folkestone for two weeks before and six weeks after Britain’s exit from the EU.

It said that potential issues in Calais and other freight ports could lead to significant traffic in Kent, and may prevent donation teams from reaching or leaving venues in the area.

Only six blood donation sessions are affected, it said, and there will be no effect on blood stocks or on ability to supply hospitals.

Full statement here


Would no deal threaten the Grand National?

Liz Saville-Roberts, an MP for Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalists, raises the prospect that a no-deal Brexit could hit the Grand National, which is held on on 6 April, just a week after the Brexit date of 29 March. She points out that “most of the horses” that run in the one of the UK’s most high profile race meetings come through the port of Holyhead, where officials “have no idea what is happening in the weeks after [29 March]” in event of a no deal. Beyond that she tells MPs “we might be alright” in the event of a no deal but the “real people will suffer” as she “begs” the PM to rule out no deal.


ERG rallying behind Brady amendment

The FT’s Jim Pickard is hearing that the European Research Group of hardline Eurosceptics looks likely to back the Brady amendment. Sir Graham, head of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs (which represents the interest of backbenchers), has placed an amendment calling for the Irish border backstop to be junked and replaced with “alternative arrangements”. Earlier, the FT’s Seb Payne in his analysis of each of the 7 amendments, which MPs are set to vote on from 7pm onwards, pointed out that the chances of getting Brady’s passed in the Commons depended on support from the hardline Brexiters.

Jim tweets that he is “hearing ERG MPs are warming towards the Brady amendment, even Andrew Bridgen is telling their Whatsapp group he supports it, one member tells me they’ll look “absurd” if they don’t support it given it could pave way for Malthouse managed no-deal.

https://twitter.com/PickardJE/status/1090310257199464449


Final speeches

MPs are wrapping up the debate now, before the series of votes begins. The PM is back on the government front bench.

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, is speaking for Labour. He says no deal would be catastrophic and would guarantee a hard border in Northern Ireland. The key amendments tonight seek to extend the timetable. We are only at this point with 59 days to go because the government has run down the clock, he says. This is one of the greatest national crises our country has faced in a generation. We must now act.

I understand the concerns of MPs about voting for some of these amendments tonight and I understand the anger and frustration of our constituents about how the government has conducted these negotiations. But we do not have the luxury of being bystanders – what our constituents are looking for is leadership and it is our job to provide it. We cannot tell people we want no deal and then sleepwalk towards it – our constituents will not forgive us if we dodge difficult questions.

Delaying A50 is now inevitable, that is the honest truth, he says. Even if the PM could get a deal through the House, six Bills need to pass and another 600 statutory instruments. It is simply not credible to pretend this can be forced through in the remaining time.

This House must next examine credible alternatives to the PM’s deal and vote on these options.

In the last two years we have had a prime minister who is unwilling to build consensus or work with MPs. But she is now out of time, Sir Keir says.


ERG support for Brady

Andrew Rosindell, a member of the ERG, has emerged from their meeting and said he is “reluctantly” going to back the Brady amendment, reports the FT’s Laura Hughes.

The ERG’s Jacob Rees-Mogg also told journalists that the group will “broadly” back the Brady amendment.

The ERG have “collectively agreed to support Brady on the basis of the Prime Ministers promises”, Steve Baker MP added.

“We have collectively agreed to support Brady on the basis of the Prime Minister’s promises, especially as regards reopening the Withdrawal Agreement, and that the backstop is only the worst problem.I hope we can now make rapid progress towards the Malthouse Compromise. A vote for the Brady amendment is a vote to see if the PM can land a deal that will work. If not then we are not committed.”

Rosindell says it’s clear the government “needs more time” and this is Mrs May’s “one last chance” to sort out the backstop. The MP believes there is a “50:50 chance” of the amendment passing, but adds that “huge numbers of colleagues” have come round and decided to support it.


Barclay: Establish what deal the House is for

Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay is wrapping up for the government. It is time to establish what kind of deal the House of Commons supports, and give certainty to the EU, he says.

There is much in the withdrawal agreement which many on all sides of the House can see as common ground, he says. But many of the amendments presented to the House today merely delay the process of delivering certainty.

Labour MP Angela Eagle asks what the alternative arrangements are. Mr Barclay dodges the question.

He continues by saying that Labour MPs did not seem to want to engage with their leadership’s own amendment – it shows the lack of unity within their party, he says. We have a clear position from the prime minister whereas the position of the leader of the Opposition is confused.

By not backing a deal we prolong the uncertainty and that drives up costs for business, he says. The only way to stop no deal is to secure a deal or to go back on the biggest democratic vote in our country’s history. The House needs to be careful about the lack of certainty about the consequences of the delaying amendments would be. They would be a Trojan horse against Brexit.

Mr Barclay is now running through each of the amendments, responding to each of them and rebutting them. There is a lot of wrangling about whether some of these amendments are constitutionally acceptable; the government is pushing back quite hard on that point, arguing that the Cooper amendment in particular would be a significant change in Parliamentary procedure.

On Matlhouse, he makes encouraging noises and says it offers a spirit of engagement which the government will take forward.

Lady Sylvia Hermon presses him on what the alternative arrangements would be; Mr Barclay dodges the question again.


Barclay: It is time to act in the national interest

Mr Barclay reiterates the government’s commitment that there will be no hard border in Northern Ireland.

He goes on to say, wrapping up, that across both Leave and Remain voters, we hear the call to get on with it. Citizens and business want certainty, the EU wants clarity. It is time to act in the national interest, so back the Brady amendment, he says.


Voting is beginning

MPs have begun to vote on the amendments. We’re starting with the Labour front bench’s amendment, tabled in the name of Jeremy Corbyn. Each vote should take about 20 minutes. We have seven amendments to get through.


What is the Labour amendment?

A reminder that the Labour amendment calls for changes to the Brexit deal to “secure a permanent customs union” and protecting workers’ rights, regulations and standards in line with the EU. It also allows for the option, possibly, of putting that deal back to the British people in another referendum.

This is the first of seven. It is not expected to pass. The result is expected at 19:15 GMT


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Labour amendment voted down

Labour amendment defeated 327 votes to 296


The SNP amendment

The SNP’s amendment, tabled by Ian Blackford, is up next. It instructs the government to rule out no deal and have a second referendum. Our commentator Sebastian Payne says the chance of this passing is ‘nil – it is hard to see any other parties voting for this’.


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SNP amendment defeated

SNP amendment overwhelmingly defeated 327 votes to 39 as expected


The Grieve amendment

MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by former attorney general Dominic Grieve. It would give MPs control the agenda of the Commons every Tuesday between now and the end of March – allowing time for a series of votes on different forms of Brexit. This is often referred to as the “indicative votes”. It would in effect nix the chances of a no-deal Brexit. But some MPs are uncomfortable with the fact that it would change normal Parliamentary procedure.

The likelihood of it passing has waned as it has begun to look as though the Tories’ hardline Brexiters will rally behind the prime minister. The result is expected at 19:45 GMT

You can read more about all the amendments which MPs are voting on tonight here.


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Grieve amendment falls

The Grieve amendment defeated by 321 votes to 301


The Cooper-Boles amendment

MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Nick Boles. This is one of the amendments which has the best chance of passing. It would give the May government until February 26 to come up with a Brexit plan. If it still does not have a passable deal by then, a bill will be tabled that will extend Article 50 – possibly by up to nine months. In effect, this would force the government to avoid a cliff-edge exit at the end of March.

The balance of the vote is on a knife edge. It has cross-party support but it is also opposed by both Labour and Tory MPs. In particular the hardline Brexiters are resolutely opposed to it. Other MPs dislike it because it is constitutionally innovative. Some MPs may choose to abstain, to avoid having to take a position either way.


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Cooper-Boles amendment voted down

The Cooper-Boles amendment defeated by 321 votes to 298


The Reeves amendment

MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by Labour MP Rachel Reeves. It requests a two-year extension of Article 50. Its chances of passing are widely regarded as limited.


Pound falls on delay defeat

Sterling fell to the lows of the trading session after the Cooper-Boles amendment aimed at delaying the Brexit date was defeated, reports the FT’s Adam Samson. That amendment was rated to have a better chance of passing than the Reeves amendment which seeks to delay Brexit by 2 years if there is no deal by 26 February.

The pound was recently down 0.55 per cent against the US dollar, slipping below the $1.31 mark. It was off by a similar margin against the common European currency, buying 1.1459 euros.


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Reeves amendment fails

As expected the Reeves amendment is defeated by 322 votes to 290


The Spelman amendment

MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman. It rejects a no-deal Brexit but does not specify anything else. It can be seen as an opportunity to take the temperature of the House on the pure issue of no-deal. It is not legally binding.

Given that the other two amendments which seek to avoid no deal have been defeated, this is MPs’ last chance to oppose no deal tonight.


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Spelman amendment passes

The Spelman amendment passed by 318 votes to 310


The Brady amendment

MPs are now voting on the amendment tabled by Conservative MP and chairman of the Tories’ backbench 1922 committee Sir Graham Brady. This the final amendment tonight.

This amendment calls for the Irish border backstop to be junked and replaced with “alternative arrangements”. Mrs May is backing it, as it would demonstrate to Brussels that her deal could pass if the backstop was changed. The DUP are also backing it and it has attracted a lot of backbench support, including from many hardline Brexiters.

But after two years of negotiations, there is little proof that the EU would be willing to scrap the backstop.


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Brady amendment passed

The Brady amendment passed by 317 votes to 301


May: It is now clear there is a route to a deal

Mrs May says that tonight a majority of MPs have backed a deal with changes to the backstop. It is now clear there is a route that can attract a substantial and sustainable majority for leaving the EU with a deal. We will seek to obtain legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement while guaranteeing no return to a hard border in Ireland.

There is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy, Mrs May says. But compared to a fortnight ago, the House has made it clear what it needs to approve a withdrawal agreement. The House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a deal. I agree, she says – however simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it. The government will redouble its efforts to get a deal this House can support.

She invites those who tabled amendments opposing no deal to meet with her, and she invites Jeremy Corbyn to meet with her.

We can restore faith in our democracy, Mrs May says, and I will work with members across the House to do just that.


Corbyn: emphatic rejection of no deal

Jeremy Corbyn says that since the House has voted emphatically to reject no-deal, adding that he is now prepared to meet with Mrs May to pursue the type of Brexit that his party has backed for months.


Blackford: government is ripping apart the Good Friday Agreement

The SNP’s Ian Blackford says that the House has instructed the government to take no deal off the table, but the PM still seems to be in denial. What legislation will she bring forward to remove that threat?

This is a sad day when the PM has had to admit her deal does not have support and she is prepared to chip away at the backstop. The Conservative Party has tonight effectively ripped apart the Good Friday Agreement, he says. What they have done is to renege on the backstop. What mechanisms are open to this House to protect the rights of devolved regions and nations which this government is prepared to disregard?


Cable: what are the alternative arrangements?

Now the House has given the PM contradictory instructions, will she return tomorrow to give a clearer indication about what these alternative arrangements are that will replace the backstop, asks the Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable.


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*CORRECTED Tusk: Withdrawal Agreement will not be renegotiated

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has repeated the EU27s stance that it will not re-open the Withdrawal Agreement, which contains the Northern Irish backstop that Mrs May wants to renegotiate, but has offered to adjust the political declaration. He also holds out the possibility of delaying the UK’s departure from the EU, something MPs voted against tonight.

He said in a statement:

We welcome and share the UK Parliament’s ambition to avoid a no-deal scenario.

We continue to urge the UK Government to clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible.

The Withdrawal agreement is and remains the best and only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The backstop is part of the Withdrawal Agreement, and the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation. The December European Council Conclusions are very clear on this point.

If the UK’s intentions for the future partnership were to evolve, the EU would be prepared to reconsider its offer and adjust the content and the level of ambition of the political declaration, whilst respecting its established principles.

Should there be a UK reasoned request for an extension, the EU27 would stand ready to consider it and decide by unanimity. The EU27 will adopt this decision, taking into account the reasons for and duration of a possible extension, as well as the need to ensure the functioning of the EU institutions.

We will continue our preparations for all outcomes, including a no-deal scenario. We will also continue the EU´s process of ratification of the agreement reached with the UK Government.

This statement replaces the one we posted earlier in error


Dodds: Blackford’s remarks ‘reckless’

Nigel Dodds of the DUP says on behalf of his party’s seats in Northern Ireland that it is outrageous to say that this vote drives a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement. It is reckless to talk in those terms, he says. No party in Northern Ireland is advocating a hard border on the island and nor are they advocating dividing the UK (a dig at the SNP’s support for Scottish independence).

We will work with the PM to get the right deal for the UK, Mr Dodds says.


Brady: we have broken the Parliamentary deadlock

Sir Graham Brady has been speaking on the BBC about his amendment. The chairman of the Tories’ backbench 1922 committee says it leaves space for the government to renegotiate the deal while leaving the Northern Ireland border open. Securing a majority of 16 means there is a good chance this vote has broken the parliamentary deadlock and there is now a good chance of moving things forward, he says. The PM will be able to go to Brussels knowing there is a majority for something in the Commons. We can deliver Brexit in a way that is orderly, gives business certainty and involves a transition period.

He notes that some Labour MPs abstained or supported the motion. This demonstrates there is cross-party will to see an agreement and to see the UK move forward. The EU has been asking why they should compromise when there is no majority for anything in the Commons; we have now proved them wrong, we have demonstrated that there is a majority.


MPs pass two out of seven amendments

The FT’s interactive team have pulled together this summary of all seven votes:


‘Increased chance of no deal’: Capital Economics

According to Capital Economics, the win for Graham Brady’s amendment this evening is “a good result for Theresa May” but not for the pound, “as it probably increases the chances of no deal”.

The likelihood of Mrs May’s deal winning Parliamentary endorsement has risen from 5 per cent to 15 per cent, but it is most likely that her return to Brussels “simply delays things”, Capital Economics’ senior UK economist Ruth Gregory said. Consequently, the firm has hiked its estimate of the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit from 25 per cent to 30 per cent.

There is a 55 per cent chance of a “fudge and delay” scenario in which the Article 50 negotiating period is extended beyond 29 March, she added.


Business leaders call for clarity

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said that “while it is something that MPs have managed to form a majority in any vote, the path ahead is still far from clear”.

The Prime Minister clearly faces a difficult task in winning a compromise on the backstop. However, if the choice is between trying to change the deal and leaving without one, business will have to hope the EU can be flexible and consider whether any legal changes at all could further clarify that the backstop is not a permanent fixture.

With 29 March still on the statute book as our point of exit, every passing day brings no-deal draws closer, and sees more firms forced into activating potentially unnecessary and costly contingency plans – many of which involve moving business out of the UK.


Insurers say vote ‘encouraging’

Huw Evans, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, said:

“While further delay does nothing to relieve the uncertainty hanging over the country, it is at least encouraging to see Parliament saying it won’t support a no-deal outcome.

“It is vital that we not only have an orderly withdrawal but that we are set up to succeed in agreeing a mutually beneficial future relationship with our EU partners.”


‘Confidence is plummeting’

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge said:

“Whilst it is pleasing that Parliament has indicated that it is against leaving the EU without a deal, it is not pleasing that the negotiations and uncertainty continue and the abyss of no deal still remains an option.

“75 per cent of London businesses that we surveyed still haven’t made any provisions in preparation for Brexit.

“With 86 per cent of businesses in London employing under 10 people they simply don’t have the time nor resource to waste on guessing what the UK’s exit from the EU looks like.

“The clock is ticking rapidly and business confidence and economic indicators are plummeting whilst no deal still looms. It must be taken off the table.”


Another day lost

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that this is “another day lost while the clock is ticking”.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said that “government and parliament are still going round in circles when businesses and the public urgently need answers”.

The real-world result of Westminster’s interminable wrangling is market uncertainty, stockpiling, and the diversion of staff, money and investment. For every big-ticket business announcing high-profile Brexit-related decisions, there are many more quietly making the changes they need in order to safeguard their operations in the event of a disorderly Brexit. The net result of this displacement activity and uncertainty is slow but very real damage to the UK economy.

For those without access to Twitter, it says:

> The House of Commons could have asserted itself tonight - instead it indulged the PM’s decision to chase a fairytale at the behest of the DUP/ERG, and increased the risk of no deal in the process. A woeful abdication of responsibility." data-isblockquote="0" data-datemodified="1548796687" data-pubdate="Jan 29 21:18" data-pubdatetime="2019-01-29T21:18:01+00:00">


‘Abdication of responsibility’

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is not happy about this evening’s events. She Tweeted:

https://twitter.com/NicolaSturgeon/status/1090351598252027904

For those without access to Twitter, it says:

The House of Commons could have asserted itself tonight – instead it indulged the PM’s decision to chase a fairytale at the behest of the DUP/ERG, and increased the risk of no deal in the process. A woeful abdication of responsibility.


Ireland: withdrawal deal not open to renegotiation

Ireland insisted in the wake of the Westminster votes that it was “not open” to renegotiate Britain’s withdrawal treaty, writes Arthur Beesley in Dublin.

In a statement after the final House of Commons vote on Tuesday, the government said the EU position on the treaty “has not changed” and was set out clearly in December.

“The withdrawal agreement is not open for re-negotiation,” the government said. Dublin went on to say it will continue preparations for all outcomes including for a no-deal.

“The agreement is a carefully negotiated compromise, which balances the UK position on customs and the single market with avoiding a hard border and protecting the integrity of the EU customs union and single market,” it added. “The best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify this agreement.”

The statement came as Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar (pictured above, centre) told a gathering of farmers in Dublin that his government will seek emergency aid from Brussels in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “The purpose of this aid would be to help cope with the impact on Irish trade, particularly for the beef, dairy and fishing sectors,” Mr Varadkar said.

Dublin said it was consistent in saying it wanted the “closest possible” future relationship between the EU and the UK. “A change in the UK red lines could lead to a change in the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship, and a better overall outcome.”


‘Groundhog Day’

Today’s votes mean that Parliament is likely to return to the same spot again in two weeks’ time, according to RBC Capital Markets’ global macro strategist Peter Schaffrik. He said:

The approval of Sir Graham’s amendment “increases the probability of a no deal Brexit somewhat and almost certainly will lead to further disappointment over the weeks to come … Given that previous UK efforts to seek legal assurances around the backstop were unsuccessful, it remains difficult to see why the EU would be willing to radically alter the text at this stage.

“Assuming that the ‘compromise’ has a very low probability of being acceptable to the EU and isn’t really designed to achieve any tangible new result with the EU in the first place, it will also now eat up more time in a likely futile attempt to negotiate the ‘backstop’ and thus bring us closer to the Article 50 deadline without any tangible agreement.”

The growing prospect of a no deal Brexit is negative for sterling and positive for gilt prices, Mr Schaffrik said.


Sterling holds its losses

The pound fell below $1.31 when Yvette Cooper’s amendment – seeking to delay the Brexit date – was defeated, and it has held those losses since the voting process ended. Sterling is now trading at around $1.306, down 0.7 per cent on the day. That suggests investors have concluded that the likelihood of no deal has increased after this evening’s events.


What next in Brussels?

Our Brussels correspondent Mehreen Khan reports on what to expect next:

Brussels will be reacting to the fallout of the House of Commons vote on Wednesday. At around 1500 GMT, Michel Barnier will be debating the next steps in talks with MEPs in the European Parliament. Senior MEPs tonight have already doubled down on the “no negotiations” to the backstop line.

From around 1430 GMT, the EU’s 27 ambassadors will be discussing no-deal plans with the European Commission in crucial sectors like road transport and air travel. Governments led by Spain and France last week pushed Brussels for more generous deals to help deal with any Brexit chaos.


How did your MP vote?

Our interactive team has knocked up this nifty little tool which you can use to look up how any MP voted in all of this evening’s divisions. It also has charts showing the outcome for all seven amendments.


Joint statement from Nick Boles and Yvette Cooper

Tory MP Nick Boles has taken to Twitter and posted a joint statement with Labour’s Yvette Cooper. The two MPs had their amendment defeated to extend Article 50 – possibly by up to nine months – if Theresa May had no Brexit plan by 26 February.

The two MPs from opposite sides of the Commons said they “remained deeply concerned that there is no safeguard in place to prevent a cliff edge” Brexit on 29 March. They hint that they will look again at tabling an amendment to extend Article 50 next time parliament are due to vote on Brexit plans, which will happen by February 14 at the latest.

You can find the full statement on Twitter below:

https://twitter.com/NickBoles/status/1090354682441150465

For those without access to Twitter, it says:

> Backstop was agreed by UK/EU as the insurance policy to avoid a hard border in all scenarios. We hope it will never be used, or be replaced quickly by a future relationship agreement. But it is necessary and tonight’s developments at Westminster do nothing to change this. #Brexit" data-isblockquote="0" data-datemodified="1548799537" data-pubdate="Jan 29 22:05" data-pubdatetime="2019-01-29T22:05:52+00:00">


Ireland: backstop ‘an insurance policy’

Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney has just Tweeted:

https://twitter.com/simoncoveney/status/1090368832433209346

For those without access to Twitter, it says:

Backstop was agreed by UK/EU as the insurance policy to avoid a hard border in all scenarios. We hope it will never be used, or be replaced quickly by a future relationship agreement. But it is necessary and tonight’s developments at Westminster do nothing to change this. #Brexit


Winding up for the night

That’s it for tonight, we are going to wind up our coverage now. Thank you for joining us on what has been a dramatic day in British politics. For more coverage, you can turn to FT.com.