Theresa May has insisted her Brexit deal is not dead in a press conference in Brussels after a bruising EU summit, with leaders scrapping written commitments to help pass her deal through the Commons.
Unless further concessions are made, it means the embattled prime minister will return to Westminster with limited assurances that are unlikely to placate her rebellious MPs.
But David Lidington, the cabinet office minister, defended Ms May’s handling of the talks, telling the BBC: “Anybody who has heard Theresa May, anybody who has heard her around the cabinet table, knows there is a very clear plan.”
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EU leaders scrap plans to help Theresa May pass Brexit deal after disastrous meetingTheresa May‘s Brexit plan was dealt another major blow at a meeting with EU leaders on Thursday night in a disastrous turn of events that resulted in them scrapping written commitments to help her pass her deal through parliament. After arriving in Brussels with promises to help the prime minister, European leaders were left amazed when she turned up without any developed requests or ideas.The 27 heads of state and government subsequently decided to delete lines from their council conclusions saying the EU “stands ready to examine whether any further assurance can be provided” and that “the backstop does not represent a desirable outcome for the union”. The key paragraphs appeared in leaked earlier drafts on the conclusions and their absence leaves a barebones statement that does the bare minimum to help the prime minister. The limited assurances provided in the statement are extremely unlikely to placate Ms May’s MPs, who have said they want major changes to the agreement.
After the bruising summit in Brussels, cabinet office minister David Lidington, defended Mrs May's handling of the talks with Brussels after criticism from Michel Barnier.
He told Today: "Anybody who has heard Theresa May in debate, anybody who has heard her around the cabinet table, knows there is a very clear plan."
He described the talks as "a welcome first step that was the removal of uncertainty" over the EU's intentions, because it had shown it wanted a "speedy UK trade deal" that would remove the need for the backstop in the first place.
Asked if the government could support "indicative votes" on options if the PM's Brexit deal is voted down in Parliament, he added: "Certainly I will be supporting the Prime Minister in campaigning vigorously for Parliament to approve the deal that has been negotiated.
"Were that not to happen then obviously the prime minister, the cabinet, would need to take stock and come to Parliament accordingly."
After the PM appealed to EU27 leaders for an olive branch to offer MPs who oppose the Northern Ireland backstop, shadow Brexit minister Sir Keir Starmer called for a meaningful vote on the deal before Christmas.
He said: "It seems that the prime minister has failed in her bid to deliver meaningful changes to her Brexit deal.
"We cannot go on like this. The prime minister should reinstate the vote on her deal next week and let Parliament take back control."
Brexit: Crunch vote on Theresa May's deal definitely not held before ChristmasTheresa May has confirmed that a fresh commons showdown over her Brexit deal will not take place before Christmas.Downing Street said the ‘meaningful vote’ on the withdrawal agreement made with the EU would not be brought to parliament until January.The announcement came as Ms May’s party tore itself apart in the aftermath of the botched coup by Brexiteers to overthrow the prime minister. After their vote of no confidence, Ms May headed to a summit in Brussels in a bid to win new concessions from the EU.
Arriving at the summit, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis said he does not now expect a special Brexit summit in January to agree a way forward, urging the Commons to back the agreed UK-EU deal.
"We need a positive vote from the British Parliament, not a summit," he said. "We want a vote. We need a vote from the British Parliament to continue. We very much hope this will be a positive vote. We count on that."
Theresa May has arrived at the second day of the EU summit in Brussels - and is expected to answer questions from the awaiting press pack at midday. The prime minister doesn't look like she is holding out much hope for concessions today from her European counterparts.
Tony Blair predicts majority of MPs will back new Brexit referendum as May's efforts to save deal are snubbedTony Blair has predicted there could soon be a majority in parliament for a Final Say referendum, after European leaders snubbed Theresa May's efforts to save her Brexit deal.In a humiliating blow to the prime minister, the EU27 issued a statement saying the withdrawal agreement was "not open for renegotiation", as well as deleting key passages from their council conclusions.Ms May went to Brussels on Thursday seeking fresh concessions to help her deal "over the line" in parliament amid concerns from Brexiteers over the controversial Irish backstop plan.
Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel said the EU leaders had had an "honest exchange" with the PM and said it was now up to MPs at Westminster to be "responsible" and vote for the deal.
"I think that for internal political reasons in the UK, some people try to gamble relations between the EU and the United Kingdom for the future," he said.
"Theresa May did the best possible job. She did the best possible deal and now the MPs in London should be responsible and know if they want to have the best possible deal or to go in the direction where they don't know what will come out.
"They should not forget they are elected to represent their citizens and not to just have their personal, political future thinking about that."
Theresa May is now in the room with the leaders of the other 27 EU member states in Brussels. But before things kick off, the PM seems to have had a terse conversation with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker.
This is how much it will cost you to travel to travel Europe after BrexitBritish travellers will have to pay €7 to visit the EU after Brexit, the European Commission has confirmed.From 2021, UK citizens will have to pay the fee every three years to pre-register for an electronic visa waiver in a system similar to the ESTA scheme used by the US.The pre-authorisation fee will be waived for travellers under 18 and those over 70, which means it will apply to an estimated 40 million Brits.
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