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Brexit news: Theresa May secures ‘legally binding’ changes to EU deal after last-ditch Strasbourg visit

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Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
,Lizzy Buchan
Tuesday 12 March 2019 00:30
Jean-Claude Junker: 'There will be no third chance' for Brexit negotiations

Theresa May has secured “legally-binding’’ changes to her Brexit deal after an eleventh-hour dash to Strasbourg on the eve of a dramatic Commons vote.

In a late-night press conference with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, Ms May urged MPs to back her “improved” deal in the meaningful vote tomorrow after pledging she had secured reassurances that the UK would not be trapped in the Irish backstop.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington set out details of some of the changes agreed with Brussels in a Commons statement as he tried to buy the prime minister time to finish her talks before the Commons rose for the night.

It comes ahead of a parliamentary showdown on Ms May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, which returns to the Commons after it was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs in January.

As speculation mounts over a fresh humiliation for Ms May, all eyes will be on the Brexiteers and her DUP allies to see if the changes the prime minister has secured will be enough to get the deal over the line.

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Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 07:32

Brexiteer Tory Marcus Fysh said Theresa May should spell out to the EU the need to replace the backstop, as agreed by MPs when they passed the Brady amendment in January.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme he said: 

That really is all the evidence the EU should require.

I think it would be worth reiterating that and actually putting the detail of the proposals which we worked up with the Government over recent weeks on the table so that the EU could be fully aware and discuss what it was exactly we were proposing."

Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 07:48
Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 07:51

Environment secretary Michael Gove - one of the leaders of the official Leave campaign in the referendum - became the latest Cabinet minister to urge MPs to vote for Mrs May's deal.

In an article for the Daily Mail, he said: "I hope that everyone who believes in our democracy - in the importance of delivering Brexit, but also in the critical need to unite our country - will come behind the Prime Minister's deal this week."

Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 07:56

Labour's shadow chancellor has dismissed the MPs who left the party to form The Independent Group as "completely irrelevant".

John McDonnell insisted he had never contemplated leaving the Labour Party under Tony Blair's leadership, even though he and current leader Jeremy Corbyn "occasionally" voted against the party line.

He said it was "absolutely futile" that politicians including Chuka Umuna and Luciana Berger had quit, pointing to Labour's subsequent support for a second Brexit referendum.

Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 08:12

In his column The Independent's chief political commentator, John Rentoul, has argued that it now appears likely the UK will never leave the EU:

Shehab.Khan11 March 2019 08:19

Speaking to Sky News, Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois says he believes there is a 50 per cent chance that Theresa May will pull tomorrow's "meaningful vote" on her Brexit deal.

It follows reports that senior Conservatives have urged the prime minister to delay the vote because she faces another three-figure defeat. The first vote on the deal, held in January, saw it rejected by a margin of 230.

Benjamin Kentish11 March 2019 08:41

Conservative MP George Freeman, Theresa May's former policy chief, has admitted the government is in a "very, very serious crisis" and said the prime minister should quit after Brexit.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"I hope the prime minister can get withdrawal through and then I do think we need to choose a new leader for a new generation with a new vision of a conservatism that can make sense of Brexit and reinspire and reunite the nation.

"I hope we can do that having secured a sensible withdrawal agreement. A panicked change of leader now will solve nothing, we have got to get this through.

"I hope colleagues this week will recognise that: vote for the deal and then we can change."

Benjamin Kentish11 March 2019 08:57
Benjamin Kentish11 March 2019 09:11

Labour MP Peter Kyle, one of the architects of the main amendment for a fresh Brexit referendum, confirms that the motion is unlikely to be tabled this week.

He tells Sky News that there is no majority in parliament for any option and that MPs are not currently in a mood to compromise.

But he says his amendment is "ready to go" and could be tabled swiftly if events change in the next couple of days.

Benjamin Kentish11 March 2019 09:18

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