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Theresa May's deal branded 'unworkable' by senior Tory Eurosceptic as PM faces open dissent in parliament

The prime minister faces questions in the Commons about the political declaration with the EU 

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Thursday 22 November 2018 17:20
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Iain Duncan Smith says Brexit deal 'unworkable' without changes to backstop

Theresa May has defended her blueprint for post-Brexit relations with the EU as senior Tories lined up to rubbish her "unworkable" agreement with Brussels.

The prime minister told MPs that a good Brexit deal was "within our grasp" and urged MPs to get behind her over the next 72 hours, when she will return to the Belgian capital for a summit where EU leaders will decide whether to rubberstamp the deal.

Conservative Eurosceptics expressed their dissent during a tense Commons statement, when ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson described it as "complete nonsense" and Iain Duncan-Smith, former Tory leader, said it was not "at all workable" in its current form.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said: "We should junk forthwith the backstop, upon which the future economic partnership - according to this political declaration - is to be based, and which makes a complete nonsense of Brexit."

Ms May said her deal delivers what Mr Johnson wants, telling him: "The future relationship we have set out in the political declaration ends free movement, ends sending vast sums of money to the European Union every year and ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom, and it enables us to hold an independent trade policy and to negotiate trade deals around the whole of the world."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also dismissed the political agreement as "26 pages of waffle," which heralds the "blindfold Brexit we all feared".

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Welcome to today's live coverage from Westminster.

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 08:30
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Theresa May has 24 hours to save Sunday's planned EU summit as negotiators scramble to break the deadlock in talks

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 08:47
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Health secretary Matt Hancock has denied Brexit negotiations with Brussels are in trouble.

"We all know that EU negotiations always come down to the last minute," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Last time I was in this studio you had Michel Barnier and he said to me 'These deals always happen at the last minute possible - or sometimes a little bit afterwards.' That is how the EU negotiates."

Asked whether the planned summit in Brussels on Sunday could now slip to December, Mr Hancock said: "I certainly hope not."

He added: "My understanding is that good progress was made last night. Clearly we have got to get as good a deal as we possibly can at this stage."

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 09:07
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This exchange from yesterday is worth a watch...

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 09:38
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The Commons work and pensions committee has urged ministers to delay any votes on Universal Credit over fears that the policy could 'plunge claimants into poverty and even leave them destitute'

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 09:50
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It's a quiet day in Parliament today, with all the focus on this weekend's EU summit in Brussels. Here's the Commons order paper...

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 10:06
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BREAKING: The wording of the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU has been "agreed at negotiators' level and agreed in principle at political level'', European Council president Donald Tusk has said. 

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 10:29
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Donald Tusk tweets...

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 10:34
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NEW: Theresa May will now deliver a Commons statement at 2.30pm following agreement in Brussels on the declaration about the future UK-EU relationship.

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 10:41
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Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has admitted a fresh Brexit referendum is a possibility.

While saying he was “dead set against” he admitted it was "impossible" to rule out if Ms May's deal is rejected by MPs. 

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain

“If it doesn’t go through, whether we end up with no deal or second referendum is impossible to know. I think that everybody should vote for the deal because it is in the national interest."

Asked to rule out the possibility of a second referendum, he said:

“I’m certainly ruling out me supporting it.”

“I think a second referendum would be terrible. It would be incredibly divisive. Think of how divisive the debate about Brexit has been over the last few years. For a second referendum, that would be even worse."

Benjamin Kentish22 November 2018 11:01

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