Brexit: MPs defeat government over no-deal preparations

Prime Minster Theresa May is trying to win over sceptical MPs to back her EU Withdrawal Agreement, with Parliament set to vote on the deal on January 15 after it was previously delayed.

It is attached to a clause created to give the government the power to keep some areas of tax administration working in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

MPs were due to vote on the deal in December, but with flagging support the Government pulled the vote in a bid to give more reassurances to doubters over the festive period.

But Mr Corbyn hailed the development as an "important step" to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

"The real question for Members of Parliament who voted to give the public a say through the European referendum in 2016, who voted in large numbers to trigger Article 50, is the effect of triggering Article 50 is you either have a deal and the EU have been clear that the only deal on the table is the PM's deal".

Facing defeat in parliament last month, May postponed a vote on the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with the European Union and pledged to seek further political and legal assurances from the bloc.

He added that if that occurred we should demand legal assurances and "some sort of undertaking on a free trade deal", saying: "This will get very, very sticky, very close to the end, that is what will happen".

Some 209 of Parliament's 650 lawmakers have signed the letter to May calling on her to rule out a no-deal departure, according to former Conservative cabinet minister, Caroline Spelman, who coordinated the letter with Jack Dromey of Labour.

She later announced the vote would go forward in the week beginning January 14.

It comes as a major exercise involving more than 100 lorries is being carried out in Kent to test out how to manage traffic queues near the Channel ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

May's deal, brokered over 18 months of painstaking negotiations with the bloc's envoys, looks nearly certain to fall in parliament.

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The Prime Minister, who spoke to six European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the Christmas holiday, said the government was "continuing to work on further assurances" on the issue of the controversial Irish border backstop.

French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Tuesday that the European Union will only restate its long-standing position.

May refused six times on the Marr show to say whether she would seek multiple votes should Parliament reject the deal.

The test at the disused airfield comes as no-deal preparations are ramped up amid bitter deadlock over Brexit in Parliament.

"The work to secure those assurances is ongoing", her spokesman said, adding that the prime minister hoped to have something to offer MPs before next week's vote.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said Sunday: "The backstop remains the poison which makes any vote for the withdrawal agreement so toxic".

"There was no suggestion that we would pay £39 billion for nothing, without even a sniff of a trade deal with Brussels".

Labour MP Ian Murray, who backs the People's Vote campaign for another referendum, said it showed that a no-deal exit was an "empty threat".

"Nobody should be underestimating at this stage how likely a no deal exit could be", he said.

The technical changes to a crucial piece of government legislation were meant to demonstrate to ministers the strength of opposition to a no-deal Brexit in the Commons.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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