Brexit Crisis 1) ‘Plot to delay Brexit’ as the Commons votes against no deal

“A plot to delay Brexit by up to two years was underway on Wednesday night after four Cabinet ministers betrayed Theresa May by helping to kill no deal for good. Brexit will be delayed until June 30 even if MPs can be persuaded to back a deal next week. If a deal is rejected again a “much longer” delay will be inevitable, Mrs May warned… The Government lost the vote by 321 votes to 278, forcing Mrs May to give MPs a vote on delaying Brexit on Thursday evening. Mrs May said MPs would be able to vote on Thursday for a “short, sharp” three-month delay, dependent on them voting for a deal on or before March 20.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Rees-Mogg explains why the vote changes ‘nothing’ – Daily Express
  • How Europe reacted to MPs’ rejection of no-deal – Daily Telegraph
  • EU reiterates that it is ready to sign the deal – Daily Express
  • Sturgeon threatens bid for Scottish referendum amidst the chaos – The Scotsman


Brexit Crisis 2) Cabinet defiance signals collapse of May’s authority

“Remainer ministers who defied Theresa May and helped stop a No Deal Brexit used the code word ‘tally-ho!’ before they helped inflict a humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister in the Commons last night, it was revealed today. Brexiteers are furious the ‘gang of four’ rebel cabinet members Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark have not been sacked after they refused to support Mrs May. Claire Perry, who attends Cabinet, also abstained on the motion. Last night Mrs May was humiliated as her own motion to keep No Deal on the table was hijacked by Remainers who then used it to demand No Deal is killed off forever. A Tory rebellion led by 17 members of the Government who defied a three-line whip helped Labour inflict a Government defeat by 321 votes to 278.” – Daily Mail

  • Cabinet defiance signals collapse of May’s authority – The Times
  • Prime Minister urged to sack Remainer rebels – The Sun
  • Jenkyns confronts Clark for defying the whip – Daily Express


  • Hammond adds to pressure on May to back soft Brexit – FT
  • Chancellor offers £26 billion inducement for ‘smooth’ departure – The Sun


  • Hammond’s plan may rest on an undeliverable Brexit – Torsten Bell, Times Red Box


  • May has lost control of her Cabinet, Party, and Parliament – The Times


Brexit Crisis 3) Did Barwell contradict whips – and tell ministers to abstain?

“Downing Street was on Wednesday night at war with its own whips after ministers were allowed to defy an order to effectively support a no-deal Brexit… One source said the order came from Gavin Barwell – the chief of staff to the Prime Minister. Downing Street refused to comment and Mr Bowie could not be reached. Among those who abstained were Cabinet ministers Greg Clark and David Mundell, as well as ministers Claire Perry, Tobias Ellwood, Stephen Hammond, and a whip Mike Freer. A furious Tory MP said: “A Government that cannot dispense with the services of the likes of Tobias Ellwood without risk is a Government that needs to be put out of its misery.”” – PoliticsHome

>Today: ToryDiary: Commons sketch: May is now well enough to be angry

Brexit Crisis 4) Deal is reportedly ‘back from the dead’ after compromise talks

“Senior Tory Eurosceptics believe they and the Democratic Unionist party could be persuaded to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal if Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, gave clearer legal advice about how the UK could withdraw from an international treaty. It is understood the DUP is back in talks with senior government figures about what it would take for them to back May’s deal at a third Commons vote. A party source said: “Channels are open.” The majority of Eurosceptic MPs from the European Research Group (ERG) voted against May’s revised deal, defeating it for a second time, because Cox advised there was only a “reduced risk” that the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the Northern Ireland backstop and therefore a customs union with the EU.” – The Guardian

  • Prime Minister pushes ahead with plans for third vote… – FT
  • …and Brussels backs her… – Daily Mail
  • …but will Bercow even allow one? – Sky News


  • Brexiteers could back deal if legal advice clearer – The Guardian
  • Baker says how ERG will continue to push for March 29 exit – Daily Express
  • May issues ‘final warning’ to rebels – The Guardian


  • If it fails a third time, we’re at Brussels’ mercy – The Sun


>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Ici Londres – “We cannot carry on offering the same deal to a Parliament that has rejected it”, Hannan argues

Brexit Crisis 5) Vienna waits for you. Cox’s new solution to the backstop problem.

“Under a potential deal the government would legislate to give parliament the power to unilaterally pull out of the Irish backstop should MPs determine it had become permanent. Mr Cox would also issue supplementary legal advice making clear that if the backstop became permanent then that would constitute a “fundamental change of circumstance” under the Vienna Convention. Mr Cox made this statement in the Commons on Tuesday. It was deliberately repeated by Mr Barclay but it was not included in Mr Cox’s official written advice. A senior Brexiteer said that the DUP and many in the ERG could have voted with the government on Tuesday had Mr Cox referenced Article 62 of the convention in his official advice. Asked why he had not, they replied: “Incompetence.”” – The Times

  • Warning that no-deal plan could turn Ulster into ‘smuggler’s paradise’ – The Sun
  • Varadkar says UK would be welcomed as ‘prodigal son’ – The Times
  • Farage ‘gears up to save Brexit’ – Daily Express


  • May forces the fantasists to face harsh realities – Robert Shrimsley, FT
  • There may be life in the deal yet – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Rees-Mogg is in denial about how his tactics put Brexit at risk – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

>Today: Henry Newman in Comment: Why the revised deal’s changes to the backstop are significant – and offer Britain a route out

Brexit Crisis 6) As the Commons votes on extension, will it try to wrest control of Brexit?

“Although Mrs May wants MPs to back her deal, opposition Labour and pro-EU Conservative MPs will seek to prove there is a Commons majority for an alternative “soft Brexit” plan, including a customs union with the EU and single market membership. Although Downing Street does not favour “indicative votes” in the Commons next week to test support for a Brexit Plan B, it is likely to be imposed upon a prime minister who has lost control of Brexit. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has been calling for a “cascade of votes for other options”, one cabinet minister told business leaders on Wednesday. Downing Street hopes that if the Commons signals support for a much softer Brexit – such as seeking status similar to Norway, which is not an EU member but is in the single market – it could scare hardline Eurosceptic MPs into backing down and finally supporting Mrs May’s deal.” – FT

  • MPs plan for force indicative votes – The Guardian
  • SNP minister under fire for calling Tory MPs ‘traitors’ – The Scotsman


  • Sooner or later, MPs have to stop saying ‘no’ – Maddy Thimont-Jack, Times Red Box

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “Crying wolf” – Clarke on the mistakes that Cameron and Osborne made

Brexit Crisis 7) Brussels will tell May to ask for a long extension

“Brussels will tell Theresa May to ask for a lengthy extension to the Brexit negotiations at an EU summit next week, as attitudes towards the weakened prime minister harden after her latest defeat. “Somebody must tell her the truth,” said one senior EU source, “asking for a short extension is simply pre-programming no deal Brexit for the summer.” After MPs voted to take no deal off the table on Wednesday night, Mrs May said she would hold another vote on her discredited deal on the eve of a crunch EU summit where leaders would decide on a British request to extend the deadline beyond 29 March 2019. If her deal is passed on March 20, the day before the summit, she would ask for a shorter extension until June 30. If it falls the request would be for a longer period.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Barnier advocates tough line on delay – FT
  • Tell us what you want or we won’t agree, EU insists – The Times
  • Prime Minister warns of long postponement – The Sun
  • Brexiteers lobby for European veto of extension – The Guardian


  • UK faces taking part in EU elections… – FT
  • …as officials work on contingency plans – The Guardian


>Yesterday: Michael Tomlinson MP in Comment: The Prime Minister must stick to her word. We must vote this evening to leave the EU on March 29

Brexit Crisis 8) Will Labour back a second referedum?

“A cross-party group of Brexiteers will today try to rule out a second EU referendum for good by pushing a vote on it in Parliament. A mixture of Tory, DUP and Labour MPs are acting to try to spike the guns of the People’s Vote campaign before its MP supporters are ready to act… It also emerged last night that Jeremy Corbyn has watered down Labour’s support for a second referendum after saying his party no longer backs one on Mrs May’s deal. His spokesman said Tuesday’s Commons defeat meant it was no longer a “credible” option to put to a referendum. Amid further confusion over Labour’s position on a second referendum the spokesman said Labour would only back a referendum that had gained the backing of the Commons. And Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said backing one “depends on discussion across the House”.” – The Sun

  • Corbyn sets new course as he calls for cross-party consensus – The Times
  • Labour leader says Commons must take control – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Leaving without a deal could be “terminal for British manufacturing”, says Starmer

George Eustice: Why it’s vital to rule out re-running the 2016 vote

“Of course, every one of us would rather leave the EU in an orderly way with an agreement in place than without one, but if Brussels is unwilling to agree something that Parliament can accept then we have to be ready to leave first and talk afterwards if the Brussels are unwilling to agree something that parliament can accept. Many of those who insist that we must “take no deal off the table” actually have a very different agenda, which is to force a second referendum and reverse the decision to leave the EU altogether. There is no point in having a second referendum if Parliament lacks the integrity to honour the first, however. It would send an appalling message that the politicians think they know best and that the people must vote again until they give the answer MPs want.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We must have ‘no deal’ on the table – John Penrose MP, The Sun
  • Prime Minister is responsible for losing control of Brexit – Nick Timothy, Daily Telegraph
  • Future exam question: where did May go wrong? – John Kampfner, Times Red Box
  • Prime Minister could be losing her way to victory – Sebastian Payne, FT
  • She links like a head prefect, not a prime minister – David Aaronovitch, The Times
  • It’s time May went – Quentin Letts, The Sun

MPs say Bloody Sunday prosecutions would be ‘shameful’

“Prosecuting British army veterans who were involved in Bloody Sunday would be shameful, MPs have said before an announcement on whether criminal charges will be brought. The Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland will reveal today whether it is to prosecute any of the 17 veterans under investigation for the deaths of 13 civilians in Londonderry 47 years ago. The families of the victims will be informed before the decision is made public. On January 30, 1972, a protest against internment turned violent when British soldiers opened fire on the crowd and shot dead 13 people.,, A £200 million inquiry into the killings, which lasted 12 years, was conducted by Lord Saville of Newdigate. It led to an apology in 2010 from David Cameron, then the prime minister, who declared that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.” – The Times


News in Brief:

  • Get real Brexiteers: vote for the deal next week or see Article 50 revoked – Iain Martin, Reaction
  • Three years on and we are no closer to a Brexit resolution – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • How the EU infantilises national politics – Tim Parks, UnHerd
  • Brexiteers were right to reject a deal that would leave Brussels in control – Simon Clarke MP, Brexit Central
  • Scrapping the personal allowance would be a disastrous – Tom Clougherty, CapX