Three Conservative MPs resigned from their party to join The Independent Group of eight Labour MPs who earlier this week formed a breakaway centrist faction in parliament.

The three MPs — Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry — have been highly critical of Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy on Brexit and have voted against the government on that issue.

In a joint letter to the prime minister they accuse May of a “shift to the right” and of being “firmly in the grip” of the Brexiteer group of backbenchers, the European Research Group, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

“Instead of seeking to heal the divisions or to tackle the underlying causes of Brexit, the priority was to draw up ‘red lines,’” they wrote. “The 48% were not only sidelined, they were alienated.

“The country deserves better. We believe there is a failure of politics in general, not just in the Conservative party but in both main parties as they move to the fringes, leaving millions of people with no representation. Our politics needs urgent and radical reform and we are determined to play our part.”

May’s conservatives do not have a majority in parliament and are only able to govern because of a confidence and supply deal with the DUP.

Britain has approached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf countries on a possible trade pact after Britain leaves the EU, the UAE economy minister said on Monday.
Speaking on a panel at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Sultan Saeed al-Mansouri said such agreements can take years to negotiate,
He gave no further details.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but it has yet to find an agreement acceptable to both Brussels and UK lawmakers, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world’s fifth-largest economy.
The UK was “looking forward’’ to a free-trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),
Liam Fox, the UK state secretary for international trade, said during a visit to Dubai for the summit, according to state news agency WAM.
The GCC comprises the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
In 2017, trade between the UAE and UK totalled 17.5 billion British pounds, up 12.3 per cent from 2016, according to official figures.
By 2020, the UK government wants that number to increase to about 25 billion pounds.
Source: News Express
Theresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker release joint statement following their meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
The European Union states that it will not re-open talks on the Brexit deal.
However, they offer to add new words to the accompanying Political Declaration.
This is unlikely to win over UK MPs who voted last week for a full renegotition of the deal.
UK and EU negotiators will hold new talks and find a way to break the current deadlock.
May and Juncker will meet again before end of February to "take stock" of these discussions.
Theresa May's demand to re-open negotiations on her Brexit deal has been officially rejected by the European Union, after the prime minister traveled to Brussels on Thursday morning.
In a joint statement released by the UK prime minister and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the two leaders said they had engaged in a "robust but constructive" conversation, but confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement was not up for renegotiation.
"President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal," the two leaders said in a statement.
They added that Juncker was open to adding new words to the accompanying "Political Declaration," which is a non-legally binding statement on aspirations for the future relationship between the two sides.
They also said that both sides would hold fresh talks "before the end of February" in order to find a way to break the deadlock.
Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29. Here, we take a look at the latest figures behind Brexit.
However, the statement casts further doubt on May's hopes of securing any meaningful changes to the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, as demanded by significant numbers of MPs in Westminster.
The backstop is the insurance policy for making sure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic under any circumstances after the UK has left the EU.
A majority of MPs in the UK House of Commons voted last week for May to replace the current backstop with "alternative arrangements."
Conservative MPs fear that the backstop in its current form would leave the UK tied to EU rules for years after Brexit, while the Democratic Unionist Party which props up May's government says it would create unacceptable new checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Conservative rebels have also indicated that they will not back any deal that does not include the removal or complete change of the backstop arrangements.
The British prime minister this week established a new working group charged with defining what those "alternative arrangements" could be.
The EU's rejection of May's call for a renegotiation comes after the UK opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to May offering to back her deal if she accepted a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit.
Corbyn said the party would support a deal that was based on a permanent customs union and a closer relationship with the single market.
A spokesperson for May said the prime minister would respond to Corbyn's offer "in due course," but added that "our position on the custom union is well known and that has not changed."
The talks were held in a spirit of working together to achieve the UK's orderly withdrawal from the EU, especially in the context of a shared determination to achieve a strong partnership for the future given the global challenges the EU and the UK face together in upholding open and fair trade, cooperation in the fight against climate change and terrorism and defending the rules-based international system.
The Prime Minister described the context in the UK Parliament, and the motivation behind last week's vote in the House of Commons seeking a legally binding change to the terms of the backstop. She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement in line with her commitments to the Parliament.
President Juncker underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, which represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and the UK, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal. President Juncker however expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration agreed by the EU27 and the UK in order to be more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship between the European Union and the UK. President Juncker drew attention to the fact that any solution would have to be agreed by the European Parliament and the EU27.
The discussion was robust but constructive. Despite the challenges, the two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found that would gain the broadest possible support in the UK Parliament and respect the guidelines agreed by the European Council. The Prime Minister and the President will meet again before the end of February to take stock of these discussions.
Source: PmNews

In its attempts to find a way out of the Brexit impasse, the House of Commons has passed an amendment that gives Theresa May the green light to reopen talks with the European Union about what happens to the Irish border after Brexit – a key sticking point in getting her deal through parliament.

MPs have also voted to reject a no-deal Brexit. And in a final development on a busy day in the Brexit story, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has also agreed to enter talks with the prime minister to find a way forward. But many of these developments raise more questions than they answer.

The Brady amendment

The Irish backstop is an issue which has caused frustration not just on the Conservative benches, but also with the government’s confidence-and-supply partner, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The amendment which was passed on this topic was tabled by Graham Brady, a Conservative backbencher and chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee. It commits the prime minister to seeking “alternative arrangements” for the backstop, though during the debate that came ahead of the vote, government ministers repeatedly refused to be drawn on what those alternative arrangements might be.

As the countdown to March 29 continues, this will be seen by many as a sign that progress is being made as there is a majority in favour of an amended deal. Yet in parliamentary terms, the UK is no closer to leaving with a deal than it was in December. The prime minister still has a lot of work to do.

May nevertheless sees the amendment as giving her a firm mandate to return to the EU and seek a new version of the Brexit deal. In a further sign that she has heeded the concerns of her own backbenchers, the prime minister also agreed to sit down and discuss the so called “Malthouse Compromise” – a proposal on the backstop agreed in secret between Conservative Brexiteers and Remainers and facilitated by some government ministers. It is not a parliamentary amendment but is an important behind-the-scenes movement as the government strives to reach some sort of consensus among MPs.

That said, while the prime minister may have her mandate to push for an amended deal, the EU has said it does not wish to renegotiate terms. In a statement released shortly after the vote, a spokesman for European Council president Donald Tusk said: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement and the withdrawal agreement is not open for re-negotiation.” May will be hoping that with 317 MPs firmly behind her, Brussels will shift ground.

MPs rejected a no-deal Brexit

The surprise of the night was a narrow eight-vote victory for an amendment tabled by Conservative MP Caroline Spelman and Labour MP Jack Dromey. It aims to prevent a no-deal Brexit, though it does not come with legal underpinnings. Although it’s unlikely that the government thought this amendment would pass, it’s potency is somewhat muted given that the prime minister has consistently said that passing amendments of this form are a waste of time; and that the only way to stop no deal is to vote for a deal. It’s unlikely to mean much, other than emphasising that there is a political will in the Commons to avoid leaving the EU on March 29 without a deal.

Corbyn agreed to talk

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, had refused any meetings with the prime minister over the past few weeks, saying repeatedly that he would not do so without preconditions being met, including the prime minister ruling out no deal. As a result, he is the only opposition party leader not to have met with May as she seeks consensus – although it should be noted that she initially extended the invitation to everyone except Corbyn. Yet Corbyn has now had a change of heart following the vote opposing a no deal exit and agreed to a meeting. This could prove highly significant over the next couple of weeks – movement on the Labour benches could help May’s next proposition cross the finish line.

Grieve and Cooper sunk

An amendment from Dominic Grieve, the Conservative backbencher who was largely responsible for forcing the government to come back to the Commons so soon after the meaningful vote last week failed to pass. The same went for Labour MP Yvette Cooper – whose amendment was only supported by leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn at the eleventh hour.

Both the Cooper and the Grieve amendments sought to suspend the usual Commons rules in which the government has control of business, and give more power to the Commons to control the Brexit process. The Grieve amendment would have allowed MPs to vote on a series of options for the withdrawal process, while the Cooper amendment sought to avoid a no-deal Brexit by making it legally binding on the prime minister to extend Article 50 if parliament had not agreed on a final Brexit deal by February 26. More MPs than expected voted against the Cooper amendment – perhaps a sign that Conservative MPs realised the Brady amendment would bring greater rewards.

What happens next?

The prime minister has said that she will go back to the EU and seek to reopen the Brexit package on offer. But with the EU currently saying it is unwilling to re-open talks on the deal, it is unclear at the moment what her next steps will be. She will, however, continue to meet with MPs including senior Conservative backbenchers and the DUP as she works towards an amended offer for parliament. With the clear majority voting against a no-deal Brexit, the ticking clock works in the prime minister’s favour. If the only way to avoid no deal is for parliament to take a favourable stance on an amended deal, they may have to support her deal in one form or another.

Parliament has a lot of work to do and it is running out of time in which to do it. There are limited sitting days between now and March 29, including a February recess. Assuming that an amended deal will be passed by the Commons next month, the house will still need to debate, (possibly) amend and pass a withdrawal agreement bill before the designated leave date. We may see the recess cancelled or the announcement of extra sitting days (Fridays could be used) between now and then. Either way, it’s going to be an even busier month for MPs as the Brexit clock ticks down.The Conversation


Louise Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Manchester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

As the clock ticks down to March 29 2019, all of the political manoeuvring, negotiating, arguing and fighting is coming to a peak. In the two and a half years since the 2016 EU referendum, views on both sides have hardened and agreement still seems as far away as it was the day after the referendum.

With Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement disliked by all sides, and voted down by an unprecedented majority in the House of Commons, everyone is wondering what can and should be done next?

While there are a number of options, some are more realistic than others. But in these turbulent times, it is impossible to conclusively rule any out. Here are some possibilities.

Present a new deal

Having seen her deal roundly rejected by parliament, the most obvious move for May might seem to be to go back to the EU to renegotiate. But the EU-27 have been clear from the day of the referendum result about what they were willing to offer. As the larger partner in the negotiations, and with a legal and political framework to protect, the EU could not rip up its own rules for one country. Indeed, the withdrawal agreement stretched the EU’s own red lines and they have repeatedly said that they could not, and would not, offer any more.

With the withdrawal agreement sunk, renegotiating with the EU along the same lines is a waste of time. The only type of renegotiation likely to have any chance of success is one where the larger issues, such as the customs union, are put back on the table. That seems to be something which May appears unwilling to do. It is hard to see how a new deal, without such renegotiation, would be any different to the old deal.

Cross-party talks

May has complained that while members of parliament have been very clear about what they won’t accept, they haven’t given any clear steer on what they will accept. That is undoubtedly true, largely because the House of Commons does not have a settled view of what the withdrawal agreement should look like or what the future relationship between the UK and EU should be.

In light of this, May has suggested that one way forward might be cross-party talks. But this is not an easy solution. May has enemies on all sides, with members of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, SNP and DUP all offering different solutions to her problem. Few of them will agree with May’s existing red lines, or with each other, making agreement almost impossible.

Another issue is the lack of time, with less than 80 days before the UK leaves the EU. Were these discussions to have taken place after the 2017 election, or when May became prime minister, agreement might just have been possible – but at this late stage, and with May appearing to be unwilling to compromise in any meaningful way, cross-party agreement looks unattainable.

Extend Article 50

The lack of time is an issue for Remainers and Leavers alike. Negotiation, a general election, another referendum – these all take time and Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29. Article 50 could be extended, but this requires the agreement of the EU. In order for the UK to request this extension, and for the EU to agree, a practical plan of action would be needed to convince both sides that there was some point in an extension. While it is likely that an extension to article 50 may be sought, it is just a delay, not a solution.

Second referendum

For many of the 48% who voted to remain in the EU, a second referendum could be the answer to their prayers. Key Leave figures are under investigation for alleged irregularities during the referendum campaign and the British public are a lot more knowledgeable about the European Union now than they were in 2016. Another referendum might deliver a death blow to Brexit. However, there is no guarantee that it would deliver a Remain vote, and a vote could create even more divisions within society. The possibility of a second referendum is increasingly likely, but is still a long way off.

No-deal Brexit

Of all the options, the only certainty is that if no further action is taken, no deals agreed, no referendum or general election, then the UK will leave the EU on March 29 with no deal. This would mean Britain would revert to trading on World Trade Organization rules. No other nation in the world trades exclusively on WTO rules and the economic damage would be extreme.

Delays at ports, and the issue of the Northern Irish border would also be hugely divisive and damaging for the UK economy. Trade deals take time, often years, to negotiate so the pain would not be short term for Britain. With no realistic benefits for the UK, it is hard to see why anyone would pursue this as a positive option.

None of the options open to the UK government and parliament are particularly attractive – and all have long-term costs – but the usual practice is that when the parliament of the UK cannot make a decision, the issue is put back to the public. Whether that can realistically be done now is hard to tell but no democracy should ever avoid the opinions of its own people.The Conversation


Victoria Honeyman, Lecturer in British Politics, University of Leeds

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The pound edged down Wednesday after the record defeat of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan but mostly held its ground as investors consider the next likely developments in the long-running saga.
The sterling tanked to a near two-year low soon after the government’s proposal on leaving the European Union was soundly beaten Tuesday evening, but it soon bounced back as traders bet there would not be a “no-deal” exit.
And while it was slightly lower in Asia, the pound managed to avoid the sort of pummelling many had predicted, and analysts say the positive news is that the options for the future are narrowing.
With May expected to win a vote of no confidence called by the opposition Labour Party on Wednesday, talk will move to what happens next.
Analysts say May could ask to delay Britain’s March 29 exit from the bloc as she looks for a more palatable agreement from her EU peers, while there is growing speculation of a general election and even another referendum.
“Momentum is shifting away from the harder Brexit route and towards a number of options ranging from postponement and second referendum. That is pound supportive,” said Gavin Friend at National Australia Bank.
But he added: “I don’t see the pound rallying much until markets are sure the (ruling) Conservatives have seen off the confidence motion.”
Meanwhile, London may still leave the bloc without a backup.
“We cannot ignore the fact that it takes very little effort for no-deal, whilst it takes a vast amount of effort to avoid it,” warned Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at
Asian equity markets mostly rose after Tuesday’s rally that was fuelled by Chinese plans to cut taxes in a bid to support the stuttering economy.
However, traders are growing increasingly worried about the lack of movement in the US over the government shutdown, which is now in its fourth week, with both sides digging their heels in.
Tokyo ended off 0.6 percent, but Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent to build on Tuesday’s two percent rally while Shanghai was flat.
Sydney and Seoul each rose 0.4 percent, while Singapore added 0.3 percent and Wellington put on 0.7 percent with Mumbai 0.2 percent higher.
Investors are now gearing up for the start of the corporate earnings season and some are concerned that the effects of recent soft economic data globally — as well as the China-US trade war — will begin to show up in accounts.
Key figures around 0710 GMT 
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2856 from $1.2871 at 2140 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 20,442.75 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 26,980.43
Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 2,570.42 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1408 from $1.1413
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.44 yen from 108.72
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP six cents at $52.17 per barrel
Oil – Brent Crude: UP 10 cents at $60.74 per barrel
New York – DOW: UP 0.7 percent at 24,065.59 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 6,895.02
Source: Channels
Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes - the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.
MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain's exit from the EU on 29 March.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.
The confidence vote is expected to be held at about 1900 GMT on Wednesday.
But DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party, which keeps Mrs May in power, would be supporting her in Wednesday's confidence vote.
She told the BBC MPs had "acted in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom" by voting down the deal.
But she added: "We will give the government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal."
Some 118 Conservative MPs voted with the opposition parties against Mrs May's deal.
Only three Labour MPs supported the prime minister's deal: Ian Austin (Dudley North), Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) and John Mann (Bassetlaw).
In normal times, such a crushing defeat on a key piece of government legislation would be expected to be followed by a prime ministerial resignation.
But Mrs May signalled her intention to carry on in a statement immediately after the vote.
"The House has spoken and this government will listen," she told MPs.
She offered cross-party talks to determine a way forward on Brexit, if she succeeded in winning the confidence vote.
Former foreign secretary and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson said it was a "bigger defeat than people have been expecting" - and it meant Mrs May's deal was now "dead".
But he said it gave the prime minister a "massive mandate to go back to Brussels" to negotiate a better deal, without the controversial Northern Ireland backstop.
And he said he would back Mrs May in Wednesday's confidence vote.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna said that if his leader did not secure a general election, Mr Corbyn should do what the "overwhelming majority" of Labour members want and get behind a further EU referendum.
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable, who also wants a second referendum, said Mrs May's defeat was "the beginning of the end of Brexit" - but conceded that campaigners would not get one without Mr Corbyn's backing.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mrs May had suffered "a defeat of historic proportions" and called again for the Article 50 "clock to be stopped" in order for another referendum to take place.
"We have reached the point now where it would be unconscionable to kick the can any further down the road," she said.
However, government minister Rory Stewart said there was no majority in the Commons for any Brexit plan, including another referendum.
How a confidence motion works
By the BBC's head of political research Peter Barnes
Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, UK general elections are only supposed to happen every five years. The next one is due in 2022.
But a vote of no confidence lets MPs decide on whether they want the government to continue. The motion must be worded: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government."
If a majority of MPs vote for the motion then it starts a 14-day countdown.
If during that time the current government, or any other alternative government cannot win a new vote of confidence, then an early general election would be called.
That election cannot happen for at least 25 working days.
In her statement to MPs, Mrs May said she planned to return to the Commons next Monday with an alternative plan - if she survives the confidence vote.
She said she would explore any ideas from cross-party talks with the EU, but she remained committed to delivering on the result of the 2016 referendum.
President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said he regretted the outcome of the vote and urged the UK government to "clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible".
Source: BBC

“It just needs to be sorted,” said 23-year-old Adam Green, a frustrated Leave voter in Brexit-backing Sunderland, where patience with parliamentary delays over Britain’s departure is wearing thin.

The former shipbuilding city in northeast England, where the Nissan carmaker plant is now the lifeblood, played a starring role in Britain’s seismic decision to leave the European Union.

The city’s 61 percent vote in favour of leaving in the 2016 referendum signalled early on where the nation was heading on the night of June 23, 2016 and celebrations at the count were beamed worldwide.

Now, as MPs prepare for Tuesday’s decision on whether or not to back the divorce deal struck between London and Brussels, voters in Sunderland are urging them to get on with it and get Britain out.

The years of wrangling since the referendum over how, or even if, Britain leaves have certainly dampened the high spirits of that 2016 June night.

“It’s become an absolute joke,” said Green, who is unemployed for medical reasons, as he stood outside the Bridges main shopping centre.

“It’s disrespecting my vote completely. Myself and my whole family voted for us to come out,” he said.

“The MPs need to get their heads down and get us out.

Sunderland's Nissan carmaking plant is now the lifeblood of the former shipbuilding city
Sunderland’s Nissan carmaking plant is now the lifeblood of the former shipbuilding city | © AFP/File | OLI SCARFF

“I just want it over and done with because I’m sick of hearing about Brexit,” he added.

The University of Sunderland campus was built in the 1990s on the site of former shipyards that once dominated the banks of the River Wear in this working-class city of 275,000 people.

Sunderland was a coal trading port, had its own collieries, was a glassmaking centre and boasted a major brewery.

The heavy industry has largely evaporated, though the docks are still going and ships’ horns echo amongst the cranes.

– ‘Anti-elite feeling’ –

Besides its current carmaking prowess, Sunderland’s pride now rests on its football team.

Despite two straight relegations to the third-tier League One, the Black Cats still draw huge crowds to games at their 49,000-seater Stadium of Light, built on the site of a disused coal mine.

On match days, the stadium roar drifts throughout Sunderland’s streets.

A pit wheel in front of the Stadium of Light. The city's pride now rests on its football team
A pit wheel in front of the Stadium of Light. The city’s pride now rests on its football team | © AFP/File | GRAHAM STUART

“Sunderland is a city where people feel quite rooted, with a strong sense of community,” said Peter Hayes, the university’s senior lecturer in politics.

“That perhaps makes them feel a little bit less cosmopolitan,” he told AFP.

“There’s a kind of anti-elite feeling in Sunderland,” he said, explaining the Leave vote — which went against Japanese automaker Nissan’s preference.

“If we leave the EU on bad terms, there are very serious economic problems that Sunderland is going to face,” he added, saying that if Nissan shifted production to Europe, it would be a “disaster”.

Britain’s largest car factory employs more than 7,000 workers and builds 500,000 vehicles per year, including the Juke, Qashqai and electric Leaf models. Some 55 percent are exported tariff-free to the EU.

Stephen O’Brien, a city councillor for the pro-EU opposition Liberal Democrats, said a no-deal Brexit’s effect on the city’s manufacturing would be “more devastating than losing the pits and the boat industry”.

– ‘Out on a limb’ –

Strolling along Roker Beach, a sweeping bay where kayakers brave the chilly North Sea, 67-year-old Brian Halse said: “It’s just a shambles. I did vote for Brexit. I would like us to go out. I think we’re better off by ourselves.

“I like (Prime Minister) Theresa May but nobody’s backing her the way they should. We should all stick together and go out the best way we can.”

Ronnie Quinn, 60, picking litter on the riverbank by the Wearmouth Bridge, said MPs were “acting like children” instead of upholding the referendum result.

A St George's cross flag flies by a mural promoting Sunderland's bid to be 2021 UK City of Culture
A St George’s cross flag flies by a mural promoting Sunderland’s bid to be 2021 UK City of Culture | © AFP/File | SCOTT HEPPELL

“I voted to leave — and we won. The country’s made a choice and they should all be working together to shift Britain out,” he said.

“I would prefer no deal. The country did all right before the EU.”

But Liz Sulaiman, 74, out walking her dog on the seafront, said she was more worried about the effects of a potential no-deal Brexit on her grandchildren.

“Sunderland’s already not doing so well so I don’t think it’s going to do any better,” the housewife said.

“You’re going to lose a lot of jobs. We don’t need that in the northeast. It’s all happening in the south; they don’t seem to care about us. We’re just out on a limb and if we lose Nissan, we lose an awful lot.”


© 2019 AFP

The UK's leading business and industry groups are set to make major public interventions on Brexit next week amid growing panic over the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal.
Several of the country's biggest groups are preparing urgent statements for the likely event of Theresa May's Brexit deal with Brussels being voted down by MPs in the House of Commons next Tuesday.
Business and industry leaders are increasingly concerned about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, despite new moves by MPs of all parties to deter the prime minister from contemplating it.
Press has learnt that the Freight Transport Association - the group representing UK logistic companies like those that carry goods from Dover to Europe - has prepared a list of emergency "mini-deals" which it will publicly call on the UK government to arrange with Brussels in order to limit the disruption of a no-deal scenario.
The FTA's highest-priority demands are permits for UK truck drivers to travel to the EU, measures to prevent planes being grounded, and the avoidance of changes to VAT rules which would be particularly costly for small businesses.
"The government cannot sleep until we have these things by March 2019," James Hookham, the FTA's Deputy Chief Executive, told Business Insider.
He added: "I'm not going to let the logistics industry take the fall for political indulgence. It'll be messy, expensive and not end well, and caused by people who suffer from ignorance or privilege. Or both."
Another of the country's biggest industry groups also confirmed it is planning a public intervention, with an insider telling news men: "If the deal falls next week we are in completely different territory and our response will reflect that."
It'll be messy, expensive and not end well, and caused by people who suffer from ignorance or privilege. Or both.
Other groups and trade associations are weighing up how they'll respond to the prime minister's deal being rejected.
A senior figure at another leading business group said that it was preparing for "the severity of the situation to increase significantly" next week.
The UK business community is preparing to "rise up with their pitchforks" next week if MPs vote to reject the Withdrawal Agreement next week, another source said.
Craig Beaumont, Head of External Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, told News men that while the FSB had not yet prepared an official response, the government should consider delaying Brexit if May's deal falls on Tuesday.
"Whatever happens next, we want to avoid a chaotic no-deal on March 29 and secure the transition that we asked for and won from both sides. We can only get that with a deal," he said.
"So in that scenario, an extension of Article 50 should be considered so a deal can be found."
Virendra Sharma - Labour MP and supporter of anti-Brexit group Best For Britain - told BI: "I'm happy to say that businesses small and large across the country believe the prime minister's deal is dead already that's why it's time for a second referendum with remain as an option.
"The Tories used to be the party of business, now they are the party of national disaster."
MPs across the House of Commons are mobilising to try and block the government from leaving the EU without a deal. On Tuesday night, MPs voted by 303-296 for an amendment tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper which will block the Treasury carrying out basic tasks like changing tax levels if it pursues a no-deal Brexit.
It followed growing pressure from within May's Cabinet for her to rule out a no-deal.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd told a meeting of May's Cabinet on Tuesday that history would take "a dim view" of the government if it allowed a no-deal Brexit to take place.
Business Secretary Greg Clark also became the first senior figure in May's government to signal that he would resign if a no-deal Brexit were pursued.
Clark told MPs on Tuesday that leaving without a deal "should not be contemplated."
"It is essential that we should be able to continue to trade," Clark said. "It's why I've always been clear, representing very strongly the views of small business and large business, that no-deal should not be contemplated."
The government has repeatedly reassured MPs, businesses and the general public that the UK will be prepared to leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in March should the Article 50 clock run down.
Last week, the Department for Transport assessed how quickly 89 lorries could reach the port of Dover from a make-shift holding park in Kent, as part of efforts to prevent huge queues of vehicles at the border.
Despite the work taking place, there is increasing worry among business and industry that government departments are not equipped to address the myriad complications that would arise from leaving the EU without a deal.
"With every new minister comes an 'oh my god' moment where they get their brief and realise what they are dealing with," the FTA's Hookham told BI.
The mayor of Ostend, Belgium yesterday cast doubt over UK plans to create a ferry route between the east coast of England and Ostend, saying that it'll be "impossible" for the Belgian port to be ready in time for Brexit.
The plan was already under the spotlight after it emerged that the company hired by the UK government to oversee the new route owned no ships and had never operated a ferry service before.
Source: PmNews
Theresa May has suffered three Brexit defeats in the Commons as she set out to sell her EU deal to sceptical MPs.
Ministers will be forced to publish the government’s full legal advice on the deal after MPs found them in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary.
And MPs backed calls for the Commons to have a direct say in what happens if her deal is rejected next Tuesday.
Mrs May said MPs had a duty to deliver on the 2016 Brexit vote and the deal on offer was an “honourable compromise”.
Addressing the Commons at the start of a five-day debate on her proposed agreement, Mrs May said Brexit divisions had become “corrosive” to UK politics and the public believed the issue had “gone on long enough” and must be resolved.
MPs will decide whether to reject the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and future relations with the EU on Tuesday 11 December.
The Commons supported a motion demanding full disclosure of the government’s legal advice, by 311 votes to 293.
The move was backed by six opposition parties, while the Democratic Unionists, which have a parliamentary pact with the Conservatives, also voted against the government.
It came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published a summary of the advice on Monday and answered MPs questions for three hours – but said that full publication would not be in the national interest.
Labour had accused ministers of “wilfully refusing to comply” with a binding Commons vote last month demanding they provided the attorney general’s full and final advice.
After Labour demanded the advice should be released ahead of next Tuesday’s key vote on Mrs May’s deal, Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was “unimaginable” this would not happen.
In response, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she “would respond” on Wednesday but would ask the Commons Privileges Committee to consider the constitutional repercussions.
An attempt by ministers to refer the whole issue, including the government’s conduct, to the committee of MPs was earlier defeated by four votes.
The privileges committee will now decide which ministers should be held accountable and what sanction to apply, with options ranging from a reprimand to the more unlikely scenario of a minister being suspended from the Commons.
Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said the result left the government “on the ropes”, adding: “Theresa May’s majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it.”
Source: BBC
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