Britain is not planning to extend Article 50, Brexit Secretary says

Mindy Sparks
January 10, 2019

MPs will on Wednesday (Jan 9) begin five days of debate ahead of a historic vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, which faces daunting opposition while the clock ticks down before Britain leaves the European Union.

Theresa May suffered a defeat in Parliament as MPs restricted the tax powers of the government in the case of a "no-deal" Brexit.

But her spokesman added: "If that were not to take place. we would respond quickly and provide certainty on the way forward".

"There is a question of extension of Article 50 and that may well be inevitable now given the position that we are in, but of course we can only seek it because the other 27 (member states) have to agree", he said.

While the two votes are largely symbolic, the successive defeat shows how weak parliamentary support is for Mrs May's Brexit plans.

The main source of contention is the plan's safety net "backstop" measure - which would guarantee no hard border is reintroduced on the island of Ireland in the event that post-Brexit trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and the bloc prove unsuccessful.

UK Brexit minister Martin Callanan ruled out that prospect and said May would update MPs on Wednesday about the assurances over the backstop she is seeking from the EU.

Late on Tuesday, legislators backed an amendment to the Finance Bill that puts roadblocks in the way of government spending on no-deal Brexit measures.

"The government doesn't have a reliable majority to push its agenda through and suggests this vote next week is going to be even harder than we already knew it was going to be", he said.

John Bercow has been accused of "unilaterally changing" parliamentary rules in the wake of a row over a government Brexit defeat in Parliament.

She set out further clarifications she hopes will win over her own Conservative MPs and Northern Ireland´s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her government in parliament.

The vote came hard on the heels of Tuesday night's Commons defeat for the Government on a motion meant to limit its powers to change taxes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will push for an election.

The amendment was passed by 308 votes to 297, with a majority of 11.

But Mr Bercow defended his decision saying: "My understanding is the motion is amendable, I'm clear in my mind about that".

Crucially, it will allow MPs to table amendments to whatever motion May brings back, allowing the will of the Commons to be tested on Brexit "plan Bs" such as a second referendum or a Norway model much sooner.

Since being elected in 2009, he has angered many Tory MPs for his handling of business and treatment of MPs, but he also has many admirers, particularly on the Labour benches, who believe he has transformed the way Parliament holds the executive to account.

The Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said there were "some concerns" about his decision and asked him to confirm it was taken with "full advice" from the Commons clerk Sir David Natzler.

The government needs 318 votes to get a deal through the 650-seat House of Commons, as seven members of Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein do not sit, four Speakers and deputy Speakers do not vote, and the four tellers are not counted.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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