Live Brexit developments by the DMA (on hold)
15 Nov 2018
This page will be updated as Brexit news breaks. Reload periodically to read the latest.
*Back online for the 3 days of meaningful votes*
- 1700: In visibly low moods, MPs voted to extend Article 50 to at least June 20. They also rejected amendments to have a second referendum (despite it being Labour Party policy, they decided that now was not the right time...) and to prevent Theresa May from bringing back the Withdrawal Agreement a third time.
- 1900: The votes on whether Parliament would accept or reject no-deal took place. Two amendments had been proposed. The first of which ruled out no-deal categorically in all circumstances (as opposed to ruling it out no-deal as an option on the 29 March alone). The second was a vote on a new proposal for a deal known as the Malthouse Compromise. The second amendment didn't pass (eliminating my need to explain the Malthouse agreement, or ever think about it again) BUT, the first amendment did pass, meaning that, if passed, the vote to reject no-deal would mean no-deal was taken off the table forever...
- 1930: And it did pass! HOWEVER: the vote is not legally binding, meaning that the technical legal default (if no agreement is reached on a deal or an extension to Article 50 is agreed) is still no-deal. In saying this, allowing the UK to go into a no-deal scenario would be a pretty unforgivable move by the Government and would rightly cause uproar. Tomorrow MPs have a vote on whether to ask the Europeans to extend Article 50.
1245: In spite of the turmoil currently engulfing the Parliamentary calendar, the Government saw fit that the Chancellor should go ahead with his Spring Statement (interim report on the Government budget) today. Philip Hammond has just got up to begin his statement. He says he will keep it brief, given the 'other concerns' of the House...
- 1100: The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox MP QC issues his advice which confirms that the UK cannot unilaterally depart from the backstop arrangement. This is a huge blow to Theresa May's deal and makes it more likely that MPs will refuse to offer support for her deal.
- All eyes are on the DUP whose support will be vital in passing the agreement. Similarly, in what is an extraordinary state of affairs, the ERG group first indicated that they would follow the DUP's vote. In other words, the DUP has annexed a wing of the Conservative party. They will issue their statement at 1230. There's always the chance they will hold their noses particularly firmly and agree to vote for the deal. Or there could be a split in the group and some will vote for, some against and some abstentions...
- Geoffrey Cox will appear in front of the Commons at 1230.
- 1400: After the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox gave his usual rousing performance to qualm worries around the legal realities of the Government's deal (with very heavy criticism from the opposing benches), the Prime Minister stood up to begin the debate prior to the Withdrawal Agreement.
- Nonetheless, this has not done enough to convince both the ERG and the DUP, who have now declared that they will not support the Withdrawal Agreement. A defeat is near-certain.
- 1915: The Parliamentary vote on the meaningful takes place and the Government is defeated by 149 votes. 75 Conservative MPs rebelled. This defeat is not of a size that the Government can salvage any good news from.
- 1930: Theresa May announces the vote tomorrow on no-deal and the vote on Thursday on extending article 50 will go ahead. The wording of the no-deal vote recognises that even if no-deal is rejected, the legal reality is that, if no extension can be reached and the agreement isn't passed at any future point, no-deal is inevitable.
- 2230: Oh my goodness me. I really can't believe it. Earlier on I wrote an article insisting that the Government would 'hoof the meaningful vote ball into the long grass' because they wouldn't be able to get any changes to the backstop. Yet I am wrong... At least by the Prime Minister's measure. A short while ago Jean-Claude Junker and Theresa May held a press conference to announce what they term 'legally binding assurances' to the backstop agreement (documents here), which they claim will do all possible to prevent the backstop coming into force.
- In short, the proposals outline an arbitration process that kicks in before the backstop which would help the parties navigate out of a situation in which the backstop would come into force. The UK government now insists this would allow them to exit the backstop before it came into force. They also outline a desire to achieve 'alternative arrangements' by December 2020 so that the backstop will be out of the question by that point. In fairness, this is considerably more than the agreement allowed for previously.
- Nonetheless, the new developments do NOT change the Withdrawal Agreement text, but add on a supplementary text that sits alongside—and has the same legal weight as—the Withdrawal Agreement.
- It appears not to have convinced MPs thus far. Just perhaps, if some moderate MPs had sided with the Prime Minister, it might have begun to tip the scales in her direction. Nonetheless, a few bellwether Conservatives such as Damien Collins have come out against the deal. Similarly, early mutterings from the ERG (the hard Brexit-supporting group of conservative MPs) and the DUP suggest they will not support the arrangements. As of now, it looks like the vote tomorrow will fail - as expected. More will be clear in the morning.
- 1345: The speaker, John Bercow, selects 7 of the 15 proposed amendments by MPs which will indicate to the Prime Minister what Parliament wants the agreement to look like. The amendments are:
- Amendment (a) From Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn: Calls for Parliament to have a vote on staying in the customs union, and a second referendum with the aim of preventing the UK from leaving without a deal.
- Amendment (o) From the leader of the SNP, Ian Blackford: “notes that the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and House of Commons all voted overwhelmingly to reject the Prime Minister’s deal; calls for the Government to seek an extension of the period specified under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union; agrees a No Deal outcome should be ruled out; and recognises that if the UK is an equal partnership of nations, the 62 per cent vote to remain at the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 in Scotland should be respected and that the people of Scotland should not be taken out of the EU against their will.”.
- Amendment (g) From former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve: “That this House has considered the United Kingdom’s departure from, and future relationship with, the European Union” would then become the first item of business.
- Amendment (b) From Yvette Cooper: It provides for the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 3) Bill to be heard and passed on 5 February in a single day. The Bill, if passed, would mean that if the Prime Minister could not pass a withdrawal agreement by February 26 then the Commons would have an immediate vote on whether to request an extension of Article 50 from the EU which would end on 31 December 2019.
- Amendment (j) From Rachel Reeves: “in the event that the House of Commons has not passed a resolution approving the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 by 26 February 2019, requires the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the period of two years specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union.”
- Amendment (I) From Dame Caroline Spelman: Provides a straight block on leaving without a deal by inserting, “and rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship."
- Amendment (n) From Andrew Murrison and Sir Graham Brady: amends the withdrawal agreement to include “and requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change”.
- 1900: All amendments failed bar 2. The first successful amendment was by Sir Graham Brady (who you may remember from a previous episode of Brexit when he was in charge of facilitating the no-confidence vote in Theresa May). This amendment said that those who voted for it would theoretically accept the current deal of the gov can go back and renegotiate to get substantive changes to the backstop agreement.
Within 8 seconds of it passing, EU leaders released tweets saying the deal was not open for renegotiation. The gov spokespeople seem to think they’re not being serious... which is the only thing they can say, but still seems pretty delusional. The other amendment to pass was by Dame Caroline Spelman. Her amendment would prohibit the government from leaving without a deal. It was slightly different from the other amendments that blocked no deal because it didn’t give any instructions to the government about what to do instead (general election, second referendum, etc). So, as Krishnan Guru Murthy said, “MPs voted that they don’t want to do it, but also voted not to do anything to stop it.” The amendments aren’t legally binding, but considering Theresa May says she wants to hear what parliament wants, it would be pretty unforgivable if she didn’t adopt them as policy. Equally, the EU referendum itself wasn’t legally binding but she’s choosing to honour that, so consistency would mandate she did take them on. Theoretically, this means no deal is off the table and we can probably expect Theresa May to confirm this tomorrow. If not there will probably be uproar. All motions to extend article 50 were defeated, and the gov says they don’t intent to extend. So ultimately, and yet again, it means that in spite of everything we’re in the same place we were before, with demands on our side to change the backstop arrangements and a solid no from the EU.
- 0900: Good morning. Today the Commons decides whether it has confidence in Her Majesty's Government and Theresa May. Odds on that she will maintain the confidence. The DUP and the hard-Brexit ERG group have said that they'll support the PM in this vote. Nontheless, it will only take 4 Conservative or DUP MPs to revolt for the Government to fall. First comes PMQs at 12:15, where Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will issue their usual jibes, then the vote comes shortly after. In the meantime, a plethora of MPs are rotating around the various news outlets on Commons Green outside parliament peddling their predictions for the day's events.
- 0950: The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has issued a statement urging UK parties to work together to solve the Brexit impasse. This follows statements from EU leaders last night warning the UK that time is running out. Reaching across the aisle is what the government now intends to do (assuming they survive a no-confidence vote), though what that means in practice is unclear.
- 1030: Here's where I'm at with possible outcomes of today.
- Vote of no-confidence >>> pass (or new Tory gov in 14 days) >>> back to present dilemma
- Vote of no-confidence >>> fail >>> General election >>> Tory gov & back to present dilemma
- Vote of no-confidence >>> fail >>> General election >>> Labour gov & re-negotiate or 2nd ref
- Theresa May re-negotiate/clarifies/engages in cross-party efforts to fix deal >>> bill back in 3 days >>> pass >>> [END]
- Theresa May re-negotiate/clarifies/engages in cross-party efforts to fix deal >>> bill back in 3 days >>> Fail >>> try renegotiate AGAIN
- Theresa May re-negotiate/clarifies/engages in cross-party efforts to fix deal >>> bill back in 3 days >>> Fail >>> opts for 2nd ref
- Theresa May re-negotiate/clarifies/engages in cross-party efforts to fix deal >>> bill back in 3 days >>> Fail >>> opts for general election
- Theresa May fails to re-negotiate >>> commits to no-deal >>> UK Crashes out on 29 March >>> [END]
- 1115: Chancellor Philip Hammond hints that it may be necessary to delay Article 50. This is, in virtually all of the above outcomes, necessary for getting to the end point.
- 1120: In what is a HUGE olive branch, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that there is still time to negotiate the deal. This will do something to allay the criticism that the government has run out of time and should step out the way.
- 1200: PMQs kicks off. Theresa May faces immense opposition from all sides. Many cite that the Attorney General said yesterday that the deal will not substantially change if it is voted down. Therefore they say she should stand aside, call a general election, a second referendum or create a national unity government. All fairly unlikely outcomes.
- 1300: The no-confidence vote debate begins. The vote will take place at 1900, so MPs have 6 hours to grill the PM. Nontheless, assuming no big developments, it's likely the Government will survive. Which brings us back to our current dilemma.
- 1830: After hours of debate, MPs begin to close the debate on the no-confidence motion.
- 1900: The vote is called, the speaker clears the lobby.
- 1915: Theresa May survives the no-confidence vote 325-306. She calls for cross-party talks on the Brexit deal to begin tonight.
- 2200: Theresa May makes a statement outside Downing Street urging the country and politicians to come together to work for a Brexit deal. She reiterates her call for party leaders and senior MPs to contribute to this effort.
- 2230: Theresa May begins a series of talks with the DUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens, expected to take place at various points over the next few days. Labour has refused to take part unless no-deal is taken of the table.
- 0230: Parliament finishes sitting after 8 hours of debate on the Withdrawal agreement. A few short hours of sleep before everyone is up and at it again for the morning radio and TV shows.
- 0730: The vote is scheduled for 1900 this evening. Labour MP Hilary Benn removes his proposed ammendment which sought to amend the Brexit deal to both reject Theresa May's deal and ensure no-deal was not an option. His amendment may have encouraged some MPs to vote for the deal (as some MPs have said they will do anything necessary to prevent no-deal) which would have kept Theresa May in power and given her a chance to renegotiate. Instead, Labour wants the deal to be rejected by a large margin and for a general election to be called.
- 0800: Sources confirm Labour will table a motion of no-confidence in the government if/when the vote fails. This would probably take place after PMQs tomorrow.
- 1300: The parliamentary debate on the Withdrawal Agreement commences. Amendments are being selected by the speaker and the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP, rises to advocate the Prime Minister's deal.
- 1840: Theresa May rises to her feet to deliver the last speech in favour of her deal. From 1900 the amendments and the final vote shall occur. The numbers look bleak. Number 10's own predictions have the government losing by 150-180. However, this could be a tactic to make a loss by less than 150 look like a success. At the end of the day, that is a particular qualification that, ultimately, does not change the fact the government has been defeated by one of the largest margins ever in parliamentary history. Nicht gut.
- 1925: Only 1 amendment was tabled in the end. This amendment sought to change the Withdrawal Agreement so that the UK would have the unilateral right to withdraw from the Backstop agreement. This was defeated by a stonking 600 votes to 24. It was defeated for 2 reasons. The first being that even if the UK passed this amendment and the final bill, the EU would have to agree to this. And they wouldn't. The second reason is that MPs want the final vote to be the 'clean' unamended Withdrawal Agreement so that the final number is a decisive accepting or, more likely, rejection of the Prime Minister's deal.
- 1930: The division is called. Now MPs vote on the final deal.
- 1940: The Withdrawal Agreement is voted down with 202 votes for and 432 votes against.
- 1942: Theresa May invites the opposition to table a motion of no-confidence tomorrow. If she wins, she says she will begin cross-party talks of how to deal with Brexit.
- 1945: Jeremy Corbyn gets straight to it and tables a motion of no-confidence. This will be voted on tomorrow after a day of debates.
- 2000: That's all for tonight from here. Much speculation and plotting shall be had in Wesminster, however.
- 1100: Well, here we go again. After delaying the vote on the Brexit deal in December, the time has come back around again where it is due to face MPs in the Commons. The vote comes tomorrow but Theresa May gives a speech this morning and a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon to persuade MPs to accept the assurances she has received from the EU over the Irish Backstop. Meanwhile, groups of MPs are issuing letters to dissuade MPs from voting for the deal and push for either no-deal or a general election instead. Much more to come.
- 1130: Theresa May gives her speech in a pottery in Stoke on Trent. As expected, she gave the battle cry against voting down her deal which, she argues, threatens to overturn the Brexit vote entirely. Nonetheless, journalists questioning reveal the hard truths: she still doesn't have the numbers to pass her withdrawal agreement.
- 1325: A government Whip, Gareth Johnson, resigns saying he cannot in good conscience support a deal he knows will be detrimental to the country. A relatively small-fry member of the government but nonetheless this is not a good sign for a Government which is doing all it can to win more people round to its side.
- 1630: Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons. She tells MPs once more that her deal has adequate assurances that the backstop agreement will not be required. Predictably, this does not convince the opposition parties. Jeremy Corbyn calls once more for a general election and Ian Blackford (SNP) says the Prime Minister needs to listen to the people, hinting she should give the choice back to the people.
- 1650: Theresa May continues to field questions from the House of Commons. Once more, it seems very little has changed. 4 MPs from Labour and Conservative parties have been persuaded to vote for the deal in recent days, but this will not be anywhere near enough to tip the numbers in her favour.
- 1515: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more: News breaks that Jeremy Corbyn will call a no-confidence vote in the Government in response to the Prime Minister's statement on the Brexit negotiations which she is due to give at 1530 (that is unless she delays this until January, too). The rumours all started on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning. Labour Front-Bencher, Andrew Gwynne, stated that the Labour Party will use ‘whatever means necessary’ to try and force the Government to have a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. Upon closer inspection, it has become clear that the only means by which Labour could force a vote is to call a no-confidence vote and then demand a vote on with Withdrawal Agreement in return for the withdrawal of the no-confidence vote. We wait to hear whether 'tis nobler in mind for Theresa May to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and face the Withdrawal Agreement vote, or to take arms against a sea of Labour party campaigners in a general election, and by opposing, (hopefully) end them.
- 1535: Theresa May announces that the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement (the one she delayed last week) is going to take place on the week of the 14 Jan after debates in the previous week.
- 1550: Jeremy Corbyn declines to announce a motion of no-confidence. This is probably because Theresa May has now given a date for the vote. Nonetheless, a vote of no-confidence can be lodged as many times as the opposition likes (it took Margaret Thatcher 7 motions to down the Labour government of 1979), and this might have been a good way of embarrassing a Prime Minister who has been in the gutter for weeks.
- 1611: She appears to be home and dry for now. Opposition MPs continue to criticise the Prime Minister who they think is wasting time by not allowing a vote sooner than the scheduled time. Government MPs refute the idea that the Cabinet is divided in spite of the reports of deep discontent within the Cabinet and a desire to depose the Prime Minister as soon as possible. MPs of all parties and differing Brexit persuasions criticise Theresa May from all angles. There is a frustration on the part of those who wish a second referendum that Theresa May is framing her deal as the only option in face of a no-deal and frustration on the part of no-deal Brexiteers that the Prime Minister continues to push for her deal that they say nobody wants.
- 0900: Good morning. Well, Theresa May will have slept well last night. She's in Brussels for an EU joint summit to try and get some wording of the agreement changed, but EU leaders are emphatic in their insistence that nothing substantive can be altered. She remains on thin ice. If she can't get some wording on the Irish backstop changed in a satisfying way, she will suffer in the final vote.
- 1130: The Supreme Court rules that the Scottish Continuity Bill is valid and that the Scottish Parliament does have the power to make laws over Brexit. Currently, there are some powers that are technically devolved to Scotland but which lie within the remit of European Union mandates. When Brexit occurs, these powers will need to be given back to the relevant parts of the UK Government. The Scottish government and UK government were in disagreement about how this should be executed. The two governments agree in principle that the powers should be devolved. However, the UK government wants to outline the frameworks of administration and argues that, if an agreement is not reached, the UK government should control the powers. The Scottish government wants a say in how the frameworks are made and then to have carte blanche over how they are administered. With some specific exceptions, the Court ruled that the Scottish government can have a say over how the powers are administered.
- 0700: Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, informs Prime Minister Theresa May that he has received the requisite 48 letters of no-confidence that will trigger a leadership challenge. Theresa May will face the vote after a meeting of the Conservative Party tonight at 1800. Evidently, hard Conservatives are worried that Theresa May's leadership is posing a challenge to the democratic choice made by the British public in the Brexit vote two years ago, so to stop this they are challenging the democratic choice made by the conservative party in the leadership vote two years ago.
- 0850: Theresa May appears outside Downing Street to announce that she will fight the leadership challenge with 'everything she's got'. Given the sheer nightmare she's been through over the last two years, she might not have much left to give. Various people on the right the Conservative party are swanning about grinning.
- 0900: Various Cabinet Ministers come out in support of the Prime Minister.
- 1015: Backbenchers begin to put their stakes in the ground. Former Conservative Party Chairman, Grant Shapps MP, who is a bit of a bellwether for how moderates might vote, says he's not sure what he'll do yet.
- 1115: Sky News' poll has 107 Conservative MPs who say they'll vote with the Prime Minister in the confidence vote later. Theresa May needs 158 MPs on her side to survive. The odds currently have her surviving 11/4. However, this is a secret ballot. Nadine Dorries MP is on BBC2's Politics Live suggesting that many members of the Cabinet have said to the party whips that they will support Theresa May but have told friends in private that they will actually vote against. International Trade Secretary and hard-Brexiteer, Liam Fox, Sits across from her. He looks away...
- 1215: Theresa May takes to the dispatch box for what should theoretically be a very very tough Prime Minister's Questions. However, she seems markedly calm and controlled. Strongest words so far come from the SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, who has told the Prime Minister "to do the decent thing and resign".
- 1345: A Sky News Conservative MP vote tally has marked more than 158 Tories who they believe will support the Prime Minister, suggesting that she will likely survive any leadership challenge. As I said before, however, what MPs say in public and what happens in a secret ballot are two different things...
- 1400: It sounds like, at the meeting of the Conservative Party before the vote at 1800, The Prime Minister will tell her party that she will not fight the next general election. A spokesperson said, "the Prime Minister does not believe this vote today is about who leads the party into next election". In other words, let me finish off Brexit, then I'll hop off. But if history is anything to go by, even that may not save her. In 1990, Margaret Thatcher returned from a trip to Europe to face a leadership challenge. "I fight on! I fight to win!" she cried. She won the vote... then resigned two days later.
- 1715: Theresa May arrives at the meeting of the 1922 Committee in Parliament to make a speech before the confidence vote at 1800. Allegedly, a letter has been circulated by key Tory donors urging MPs to support the Prime Minister. Money can't vote, but it can persuade.
- 2000: She hangs on by 200 - 117 votes. This is a decent result but doesn't change the fact that there are 1/3 of her own party who want rid of her.
- 0800: Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsome, calls the Speaker's integrity into question on a Radio4 interview. This is a serious charge and one that is considered a gross insult to Parliament and the House. Expect rebuking to come later.
- 1430: Jeremy Corbyn's emergency debate has begun. Members of the SNP implore him to declare a motion of no-confidence in the government. Corbyn says it needs to be done when they are sure the government will fall. There is another opportunity for Corbyn to do this at the end of the debate, we shall see if he thinks the moment has come...
- 1600: A source from the European Research Group (the hard Brexit-supporting Tories) says they are confident the 48 No-confidence votes in the Prime Minister has been reached. This isn't the prospect of a no-confidence vote that could be proposed by Labour or any other of the opposition (which is a no-confidence vote in the government), but the no-confidence vote that could be launched within the Conservative Party (which is a no-confidence vote in the leader of the party, who is Theresa May). As a reminder, a leadership challenge is announced if 15% of Tory MPs (48) give letters of no-confidence to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee. However, challengers need to be sure that a majority of Conservative MPs will support an alternative candidate to the Prime Minister in order to win. If they don't, the leader cannot be challenged for another year.
- 0800: The European Court of Justice releases a ruling on C-621/18 Wightman - the case brought by Scottish MSPs, MPs and MEPs that asked whether the UK could unilaterally rescind Article 50. The ruling confirms what the Advocate General recommended last week that the UK can do an immediate U-turn and reverse Brexit, should it gain a Parliamentary majority or if a people's vote occurred and the population voted to remain.
- 1100: While three Cabinet Ministers have said the government will not delay the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, it is reported that Ministers have been told to stand by their phones (which were presumably in their pockets anyway) amid speculation that the Government may delay the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement so they can try and eek out a last minute change to the agreement. They could just be getting everyone's lunch orders, though.
- 1200: Two cabinet sources say tomorrow's vote on the Withdrawal Agreement will be pulled. The government must have come to the conclusion that a) they were going to lose the vote and b) losing did not put them in the best position for moving forward. (Confusingly, had Theresa May lost the vote tomorrow, it might have given her the authority to go back to the EU and demand they move their position Irish Backstop. Then, she could return to the commons with the 'new' deal with slightly more confidence that MPs might side with her. However, they must have decided that the potential consequences of Labour's likely no-confidence vote were too high.)
- 1210: No.10 announces that Theresa May will make a statement in the Commons at 1530. More government sources say she will announce then that the government is delaying the vote.
- 1353: Some reporters suggest that the government may have to put their delaying the withdrawal agreement to a vote. Or perhaps someone in the Commons may be able to raise a motion that demands that the order of business as determined last week is resumed (in other words, that the vote goes ahead). Thanks to this quirk, the Labour Party are reportedly engaged in talks with Jacob Rees-Mogg's ERG to vote against the government. This would be enormously humiliating for the government if they were forced to resume the vote. However, procedural nerds and Parliamentary Clerks are still to decide whether this is exactly how it all works...
- 1530: Prime Minister Theresa May makes her statement in the House of Commons. As expected, she announces that the government will not table the vote so that 'the House is not divided at this time'. Opposition MPs are pretty apoplectic. If you think this made a mockery of the democratic process, you should know the government was able to do this by using an age-old obscure Parliamentary procedure that requires the government whips to stand up at precisely 8 pm and shout the word 'tomorrow'. This alone lets the government delay the following day's proceedings.
- 1800: Jeremy Corby requests an emergency debate to be had on 11 December to discuss the Government's delay in the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.
- 1830: In protest at the Government's delay and treatment of Parliament in general, Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle grabs the Royal Mace that sits at the dispatch box. If the mace is removed from its stand in the Commons (as it is every night after the Commons finishes proceedings), Parliament is stripped of its authority to make laws. Mr Russell-Moyle's theft of the Mace was greeted with both cheers and shouts of 'disgrace' from opposing sides of the Commons. Soon after its removal, a House of Commons Clerk recovered the Mace from Russell-Moyle and he was banned from the chamber for the remainder of the day's proceedings. What a palaver.
A summary of events since our last live updates
- When we left off, the government was in turmoil, there were threats against Theresa May's leadership and the prospect of a general election or a second referendum lay firmly within the realm of possibility. Since then, and in spite of an apparently continually developing series of events, nothing much has changed.
- The only element that is palpably less likely is the possibility of leaving with no-deal. In tomorrow's vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, the Government has allowed amendments to be tabled prior to the vote on the deal itself. This is significant as it would, in theory, allow MPs to make tweaks to the proposals to make it more stomachable. Hilary Benn announced that he will be tabling a motion that would prevent the government from going forward with a no-deal without consulting Parliament. This gained immediate support and will means no-deal Brexit is pushed a few notches down the scale of likelihood.
- Labour's position remains in opposition to the Government's, as one would hope and expect. They say that if the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement does not pass (which it won't), they will table a no-confidence motion. If this passes (which it might), the government has 14 days to return with a new government to continue its work. If it cannot, the Labour Party are offered the chance to form a minority government. They will aim to get at least short-term support from all other opposition parties to gain a majority to re-negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement and pass their version. If they cannot do this, the Mad Hatter shouts "CHANGE PLACES!" and a general election is called. At this point, the UK would really have no option but to ask for an extension of Article 50 from the EU so they could do this.
- In this time, the government was also held in contempt by Parliament - the first time this ever happened in the history of Parliament. No biggie. This was because the Government did not publish the full advice of the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC MP when demanded by Parliament. After the contempt vote, the Government did publish the legal advice.
- 0900: Both Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn head to the CBI's annual conference to try and get business on-side. Both will make speeches later on.
- 0930: The public tally of no-confidence votes hits 25 with Zach Goldsmith confirming he has given his to Sir Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee. 48 are required to trigger a leadership election. Only Brady will know when the total number of private and public letters hits that mark.
- 0900: Jeremy Corbyn appears Sophie Ridge's Sky TV programme. The leader of the opposition reiterates that Labour won't be voting for the Prime Minister's deal and that she should go back to Brussels and renegotiate a deal that meets their six tests. He says she should then bring this back to the Commons to see if it would pass (clue: it wouldn't). In this case, he says it should be brought back to the people for a vote. However, he says he doesn't know how he would vote in such an instance. To be fair, he said this is because it's unclear what the question would be - remain vs deal; or no-deal vs deal; or no-deal vs remain; or no-deal vs remain vs deal.
- 0930: Theresa May appears on Sophie Ridge's Sky TV programme. In what is an attempt to appease absolutely no-one, she continues to advocate that her deal is the best possible option for the country and that everyone should just accept this and get behind her. Given that negotiating this deal has taken two years of her life and probably shaved as many off the end of it, one can probably understand her reluctance to go back and have another punt at getting a deal. She's also refusing to go back because she perceives her deal to be a fair compromise. The deal which many in her own party want to go and argue for looks much more like a hard Brexit. The Prime Minister definitely doesn't want this. Similarly, the deal that the Labour party want her to get means having much closer ties with Europe. While Theresa May personally not be opposed to do this, presumably she'd rather eat her own shoes than partner with the opposition to pass a bill which her party is against... In saying this, in 1971, Prime Minister Edward Heath had to rely on the opposition party to pass the deal that took the UK into the European Economic Community. Different times or a lesson from history?
- Everyone takes the day off, apparently. Probably plenty of plotting behind the scenes.
- 0645: Michael Gove declines the job of Brexit secretary. One can understand why you might not want to take this job - the words 'poison' and 'chalice' come to mind. However, it is likely that the real reason Gove declined (and has remained particularly quiet) is because he might want to resign.
- 0730: John Whittingdale, the former Culture Secretary, announced he has sent a letter of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady at the 1922 Committee. There are reports that a coordinated sending of letters by a group of Brexiteers will happen today.
- 0800: After her three-hour questioning in the House of Commons yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May subjects herself to an even worse fate and takes questions from the public live on LBC. Host Nick Ferrari tells Theresa May that Arlene Foster may support a leader change - it looks like this is news to the Prime Minister. She continues to blow the trumpet for her deal.
- 0910: Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith tells conservative MPs to cancel their constituency plans. This could mean they foresee a leadership vote soon.
- 0930: As if oblivious to the world crashing down around him, Michael Gove arrives at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to do a normal days work. Is it likely that he is hunkering down and getting behind the Prime Minister and back to the day job? Given his lack of vocal support and track record of plotting and biding his time during leadership turmoil, I think not.
- 1030: Well, it seems my scepticism and accusations of mischevious plotting were unwarranted. Sources say Michael Gove is NOT resigning. This still leaves the predicament about filling the roles of Brexit Secretary and Minister. Allegedly, there are discussions being had about simply absorbing the Brexit department back into the government departments whence it came.
- 11:15: Michael Gove announces his support for Theresa May and reasserts that he just wants to make the best environment, food and agricultural policy ever... He refuses to answer whether he supports the deal 'as it is'.
- 1120: Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development is next on resignation watch. When cornered outside her house and asked whether she supports the Prime Minister and the deal, she merely gives a smile. She had a sit-down with the Prime Minister yesterday evening but nothing came of it. Perhaps she's been persuaded to wait it out for a day or two.
- 1155: Liam Fox, Secretary for International Trade has thrown his support behind Theresa May saying 'the [Prime Minister's] deal is better than no deal. I have full confidence in PM'. It's hardly a ringing endorsement, but it gives Theresa May a bit of breathing room. The two cabinet ministers coming out in support of her may cause some Conservative MPs thinking of submitting their letters of no-confidence to pause.
- 1245: Well, it's lunchtime and things seem relatively quiet. There have been 20 Tory MPs who have publicly stated that they have sent letters of no-confidence to Sir Graham Brady. There needs to be 28 more to trigger a leadership election. How many have been sent in private is still unknown. With that - I'm going for a sandwich.
- 1515: This is the longest time in which nothing has happened in the last 48 hours. ERG deputy chairman Steve Baker (who has put his no-confidence letter to the 1922 committee) said that it is unlikely now that a leadership election will be called today. He says MPs should take the weekend to consider their position and that a leadership election is likely to come early next week. In saying this, it was more likely that any leadership challenge would be called today than early next week. So, perhaps it's just that a leadership election is less likely than everyone thought. After all, the numbers seem to suggest that Theresa May could survive such an election.
- 1610: Former Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, is reappointed to the cabinet as Esther McVey's replacement as Work and Pensions Secretary.
- 1640: Relatively unknown Former Health Minister Steve Barclay (I wasn't even following him on Twitter) is appointed new Brexit Secretary. The government appears to be fortifying and regrouping.
- 0730: The first Cabinet Minister, Shailesh Vara, resigns. He was a minister for Northern Ireland. This does not bode well for how the contentious Northern Ireland aspects of the deal are received. Read more about the Northern Ireland problem here.
- 0900: Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigns. This is a huge blow to the Prime Minister and to the deal.
- 0940: Michael Gove, environment Secretary, cancels a trip to the North of England. This could suggest he is getting ready to resign.
- 1000: Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey resigns. Another big blow as McVey is a well-known face in the cabinet. She says the deal 'does not honour the result of the referendum'.
- 1015: BBC reports that Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, will not resign. Theresa May is due to give a statement at 1030.
- 1020: Junior Brexit Minister Suella Braverman becomes the fourth Minister to resign. Although she is a junior minister, it shows that those who were in charge of negotiating the agreement do not have confidence in the draft agreement.
- 1030: Theresa May issues a statement to the House of Commons. (My comments in italics)
- Theresa May says this is a draft agreement - which it is - and is therefore not the final deal. This is a dig at those who have resigned already as this could be seen as premature.
- TM: 'I do not pretend this has been a comfortable process' Neither the EU or the UK is entirely happy.
- TM: The EU will not negotiate any future partnership without a backstop option. In other words, this means everyone should suck it up. She says this is the only way to solve the Northern Irish problem.
- TM: No other country will have this kind of agreement with the EU and access to their markets.
- TM: We will be leaving the common fisheries and common agricultural policy. This is important as leaving the common fisheries policy is contingent on Scottish Conservative MPs' support.
- TM: Voting against the deal will put us back to square one. Adopting agreement will bring us together and allow parliament to get on with the issues that the people want.
- TM: The choice is clear. We can risk no Brexit at all [cheers from parliament]. Or we can choose to deliver the Brexit the British people voted for.
- 1040: Jeremy Corbyn issues a rebuttal to the Prime Minister's statement.
- JC: This deal does not meet Labour's six tests. Therefore Labour will not support the Government's Brexit deal.
- JC: No deal is not a real option. The government must publish their legal advice on the Withdrawal Agreement.
- The agreement does not solve the Northern Irish problem as, effectively, there will be a border in the Irish Sea. This goes against what the Prime Minister Promised. The Prime Minister's red line which would accept the European Court of Justice's legal purview.
- Parliament and the public will not accept a false choice between this deal and no deal. The government must now withdraw this deal.
- 1050: Theresa May rebuts again. Questions to the Prime Minister from other MPs are then asked.
- SNP leader, Ian Blackford and DUP leader, Nigel Dodds, criticise the government's agreement. Ian Blackford says Scotland has been disregarded (there is no single mention of Scotland in the agreement) and Nigel Dodds says the PM did not listen. The SNP would like the chance to remain in the single market, saying that Northern Ireland is being given special compensation in this regard. The DUP say that this deal treats them differently to the UK and that they cannot support it.
- Attacks from all corners of the house continue. Anna Soubry asks the Prime Minister to consider a people's vote. Theresa May declines.
- Arch-Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg levies harsh criticism of the deal and asks the Prime Minister why he should not issue a vote of no-confidence to the 1922 committee.
- 1215: It is reported that Environment Secretary Michael Gove has been offered the position of Brexit Secretary, replacing Dominic who Resigned this morning. Questions to the Prime Minister continue.
- 1240: Sources confirm that Jacob Rees-Mogg will hand in his letter of no-confidence later today. As a key hard-Brexit advocate, this could prompt his parliamentary supporters to follow suit. A leadership challenge is announced if 15% of Tory MPs (48) give letters of no-confidence to Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee. However, challengers need to be sure that a majority of Conservative MPs will support an alternative candidate to the Prime Minister in order to win.
- 1315: two principle private secretaries (MPs who are assigned to do business to government departments but are not ministers or cabinet secretaries) have handed in their resignations. They are Anne-Marie Trevelyan from the Department for Education and Ranil Jayawardena from the Ministry of Justice.
- 1325: 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady has just met with Tory Cheif Whip Julian Smith. This will likely be because Sir Graham has nearly received the sufficient 48 no-confidence letters to issue a leadership challenge.
- 1340: Jacob Rees-Mogg issues a call for MPs to submit their votes of no-confidence. Asked if he was orchestrating a coup, Rees-Mogg said a coup was using illegitimate means to overthrow a leader. He says he is using legitimate processes.
- 1510: Another resignation. Rehman Chishti stepping down as Vice Chairman of the Conservative party and as Trade Envoy to Pakistan. A minor hit but still unwanted. More MPs are reported to have handed in no-confidence letters to the 1922 Committee.
- 1730: Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference in which she insists her plan is the best one. She fends off suggestions that she should resign in the face of a leadership challenge. She's facing off with her own party to show that desertion doesn't phase her - she'll keep plugging on until she is forcibly removed.
- 1215: The Prime Minister makes statements on the agreement during Prime Minister's Questions
- 1400: Theresa May holds a 5 hour Cabinet meeting at which it is reported 10 cabinet ministers voice serious concerns with the Withdrawal Agreement. 18 support it and thus the cabinet support for the agreement is announced.
- 2000: Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems send a letter of concern to the Prime Minister. They are set to oppose the deal.
- 2100: It is reported that letters of no-confidence are being sent to the 1922 committee. This would mean Theresa May would have to face a challenge to her leadership by those who oppose her in the Conservative party.
- 1500: UK and EU negotiators reached agreement on the how the final details of the first full 'Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, as agreed at negotiators' level on 14 November 2018' Read the DMA's response to the deal here.
- 1600: The agreement is given to Cabinet ministers to examine. PM Theresa May holds individual meetings with ministers to try and garner their support.