A Twitter blizzard, floods of Live updates and lurid headlines convey the pace and drama of events.
Tory Brexiteer fury as May is seen as recruiting Corbyn to pass a soft Brexit.
A secret ballot on Theresa May’s leadership *will not* be granted by 1922 committee of all Tory backbenchers – the feeling is it will only add to instability. They can’t hold a formal process because December’s vote gives May a one year grace period. Asked one rhetorically: “A lot of anger this afternoon.”“No,” he replied. “It’s fury.
Whitehall sources indicated that the Prime Minister has already made up her mind to request a long extension which will ‘fall away’ if and when the Withdrawal Agreement is passed in the Commons.
A long extension, or ‘flextension’, will still require the UK to continue with preparations for EU elections on May 23 – but these polls would no longer be required to be held if a deal was passed and ratified by May 22. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, said the risk of a “disorderly” no deal Brexit was still “alarmingly high” because the EU could refuse an extension.
Others are not so sure. Some Labour figures fear a trap to make Corbyn take the rap for supporting a loathed “Tory deal.”Labour is seriously split as Corbyn ducks out of the commitment to a confirmatory vote for a customs Union, A series of knife edge votes including one to ban No Deal in a backbench Bill races through Parliament to beat the EU 12 April deadline. It’s attacked as a constitutional outrage by ERG who are sounding like bad losers. Had they ever been around at the time, they would have realised this was typical of NI business the entire time during direct rule.
From Robert Peston
Chancellor Philip Hammond has just told me there is a credible case for a confirmatory referendum and it deserves to be tested in Parliament. Hammond confirms Brexiteer MPs’ worst fears – that May will apply for a long A50 extension next week, but with a guillotine. “We have to have absolute clarity that we’re able to bring that extension to an end once we get a deal done”. But if not?
The Brexit delay will inevitably be long, that UK will have to prepare for participation in European elections and cabinet’s hope is UK would be allowed to Brexit earlier if deal passed in coming months. I am told this government amendment would empower the PM to change the official date for leaving the EU without necessarily obtaining a vote on floor of House. If so Tory Brexiter MPs will presumably hit the roof.
Many MPs regard Hammond as closet Remainer. He also said something very odd to Peston. He claimed that direct rule would be necessary in the event of No Deal, “ to make the necessary arrangements about the border” because there was no local administration. But Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are entirely under UK government control. What is Hammond talking about? Another example of a random, half understood argument snatched from the notoriously tortuous border theme.
And just when we’re talking. Hey!
The DUP has held out the prospect of supporting a customs union as talks continue between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to break the Brexit deadlock. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson made the suggestion to BBC News NI on Wednesday evening.
This means they know which way the winds are blowing. They’re tacking to May and soft Brexit. At last! So they know how to cling to the coat tails power after all.
Back to the big picture..
Proposals to further delay the date of Brexit have moved closer to becoming law after they squeaked through the Commons by one vote.
MPs supported the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 5) Bill at third reading by 313 votes to 312.
The draft legislation tabled by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper requires Prime Minister Theresa May to table a motion seeking MPs’ approval for an extension to the Article 50 process beyond April 12 to a date of her choosing.
Tory Brexiteers passionately opposed the measures and, shortly before the final vote, they expressed their frustration at the Bill clearing all stages in the Commons in a matter of hours.
Peter Bone (Wellingborough) urged Speaker John Bercow to “make this farce stop” and prevent further votes.
The Bill will undergo further scrutiny in the Lords at a later date, potentially as early as Thursday.
The Cooper bill, which, if passed in the House of Lords, will rule out a crashing out of the EU without a deal once and for all, provided the EU would grant May a longer extension if her deal does not pass by April 12.
14 Tories voted for the bill on 3rd reading; 9 Lab (and 3 ex-Lab) voted against 6 Tory MPs abstained – 4 of them ex-ministers. If just one of any of the 20 in total voted the other way, the bill would have failed. Meanwhile, 12 Labour/ex-Labour MPs voted against the Cooper Bill;
Labour seriously split over the confirmatory referendum
Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary says that not to ”insist” on a confirmatory public vote on any proposed compromise deal would be a “breach of our commitments to our members at conference”.
At tonight’s special meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, Labour party chairman Ian Lavery said “this party could be finished by a People’s Vote” and warned Jeremy Corbyn he would be the leader who split Labour if he backed one.
Jess Philips MP I think the alternative is true
More fun tomorrow folks!.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London