Brexit news latest: Live updates as Theresa May faces Commons vote after securing ‘legally binding’ changes to EU deal

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Theresa May is braced for a crunch Commons vote later this evening after she secured “legally binding” changes to her Brexit deal last night.

Following last-ditch talks in Strasbourg, Ms May said she has now delivered what Parliament asked her to do and that the UK could no longer be trapped in the “Irish backstop” indefinitely.

The prime minister will now put the new-look deal to MPs, who will vote on it during the second meaningful vote this evening.



Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has described as “bollocks” a claim that he had been “told to find a way” to ensure legal validation of Theresa May’s newly-negotiated arrangement with the EU.

The one-word response was given to Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who had tweeted: “A Lawyer contact tells me that the legal world is aware that the Attorney General said NO last night to the validity of Mrs May’s ‘new EU deal’… he been told to go away and find a way to say YES: A cohort of lawyers has been summoned.”

 


Ex-Tory MP Anna Soubry has had her say: 


In case you missed it – here is what Theresa May had to say last night: 


We are all waiting for Geoffrey Cox’s opinion and here it is…. kind of…. 


The controversial Brexit backstop has not been rewritten or “undermined” by new clarifications presented to Theresa May, the Irish prime minister has said.

Backstop has not been rewritten or ‘undermined’ by new agreement, says Irish PM

The controversial Brexit backstop has not been rewritten or “undermined” by new clarifications secured by Theresa May on Monday evening, the Irish prime minister has said. Speaking in Dublin Leo Varadkar reassured the Irish media that the accords – presented by the British government as significant legally binding changes – were simply “guarantees and further reassurances to


Incredible thread from Tory MP Nick Boles – as he offers a warning to his colleagues considering voting against Ms May’s deal:

 


Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Brexiteer MPs, has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. the “Star Chamber” of lawyers was about to examine the deal:

I’m not sure that the agreements with the EU are a major change, that they continue to be promises of goodwill, and we have heard what the Irish have to say.

So my focus will be on whether the unilateral declaration is genuinely unilateral.”

He added that “many Conservatives will be heavily influenced by the DUP’s view”.

 


Everyone in Westminster waiting for Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, to reveal his verdict on the changes. 

 

Multiple MPs have said they are waiting to make their decision based on what Mr Cox says.


We’ve got a hectic day ahead of us – but here is a breakdown of some of the major events that are happening today: 

 

09.30: Theresa May chairs Cabinet.

Mid-morning: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox to publish updated legal advice on the Brexit deal.

10.30: Deadline for MPs to submit amendments for tonight’s vote.

11.15: Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay to be quizzed by the Commons Brexit committee.

12.30: Possible Commons statement or urgent question on the attorney general’s updated legal advice.

13.00: Theresa May to open debate on second meaningful vote. 

19.00: MPs start to vote — first on amendments, if selected, and then on the deal itself.

 


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he hoped MPs at Westminster would back the deal as “there is no alternative”.

“An orderly Brexit is crucial for both the EU and the UK,” he said.

 

“I hope that the House of Commons will support the agreement reached by Theresa May. There is no alternative.”


Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4’s Today that Brexiteer legal experts were examining the detail of the documents.

He said concessions on the backstop were needed in order to strengthen the position in the next phase of talks on a future UK-EU trade deal:

If it is correct that this backstop is both temporary and we can leave it at the moment of our choosing, that means we become a balanced partner in the negotiations.

That is how critical this really is. What we decide today will decide whether or not we will get a good relationship afterwards or whether we get spoon fed what the EU wants us to be.”


The Taoiseach said the deal agreed on Monday night was “complementary” to the Withdrawal Treaty, which could not be re-written.

 

Mr Varadkar said: “The further agreement yesterday provided additional clarity, reassurance and guarantees sought by some to eliminate doubt or fears, however unreal, that the goal was to trap the UK indefinitely in the back stop.

 

“It is not, these doubts and fears can be put to bed.”

 


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the outcome of last night’s meeting  between the Prime Minister and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as “positive”.


David Davis is currently on TalkRadio and appears to be putting his weight behind Ms May’s deal. 

This is a way to deliver a proper Brexit – it’s a lot worse than what I would have hoped for – it’s significantly better than what was presented in December.”


Everyone is waiting for the reaction of the DUP – Sammy Wilson speaking on LBC has given an indication of what they might say later today. Speaking about May’s new agreement he said: 

It seems to fall short of what she herself has promised. But we want to give due diligence to what has been said.”

 

 


Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responded to Mr Starmer’s tweets, saying “he’s right”, and called on MPs to vote against the deal.

“Though the bigger problem with the Withdrawal Agreement, in my view, is that it takes Scotland out of the EU against both our will and our interests – and with no clarity on what comes next. A bad, blindfold deal. The Commons should reject it.”


Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has also reacted to the news, claiming the prime minister has “recklessly run down the clock”. 


Reaction from Tory backbenchers are coming in – Damian Collins confirms he will not be voting for Ms May’s deal: 


Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has tweeted his response to May’s deal: 


May’s deal has not been well received by pro-European Tory Dominic Grieve.

 

He said he will vote against the prime minister because the deal “bears no resemblance” to what was debated in the 2016 referendum, and that the “proper thing” to do was back a second people’s vote.

The former attorney general told BBC Breakfast:

To drag the country out of the EU on these terms seems to me a very unsatisfactory and undemocratic thing to do.

If the public want to leave on these terms… so be it. But for us to leave on these terms, which I have to say take us into a second-rate relationship for the future and one which I think will do this country economic harm, I am unwilling to do without the public confirming their view.

I’m not prepared to see someone sign off something which in my view is going to be very damaging for our country’s future.”

Please allow a moment for the liveblog to load

At a joint press conference with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Ms May said three new documents had been agreed that provide the legal assurances critics of her stance had called for.

Ms May said: “What we have secured is very clearly that the backstop cannot be indefinite. Cannot become permanent. It is only temporary. If it is the case that we were ever to get into the backstop.

“The legal instrument that we have agreed is an addition to the Withdrawal Agreement. It has the same legal status as the Withdrawal Agreement. It is legally binding.

“That is what Parliament asked us to secure and that is what we have secured.”

The European Commission president insisted there would be no further negotiations on the issue.

Mr Juncker said: “There will be no new negotiations. It is this.

“In politics, sometimes you get a second chance. It is what we do with the second chance that counts. Because there will be no third chance.”


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