Skip to content

Tag: The Times

Michel Barnier has warned about the dangers of temporary measures being too comfortable PATRICK SEEGER/EPA

Brussels sets £39bn price on emergency talks after no-deal Brexit (The Times)

Michel Barnier has warned about the dangers of temporary measures being too comfortable

Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
March 29 2019, 12:01am, The Times

The European Union will insist that Britain pays a £39 billion bill and implements the Irish backstop before beginning emergency talks to prevent an economic crash after a no-deal Brexit.

European ambassadors met in restricted session yesterday for “full-on war-gaming for a no-deal”, according to one source, to dictate the terms that Britain would have to sign up to in order to open talks if it crashes out of the EU as early as April 12.

The EU’s decision to step up crisis plans is a response to the political chaos in Westminster and growing pessimism about whether the government will be able to ratify the Brexit withdrawal treaty in the next two weeks. “The expectation is that UK will come back quickly after a no-deal Brexit with requests to keep open the vital connections, access to markets and transport links it needs for the British economy to survive,” read a diplomatic note of the meeting. “To avoid unity breaking at that point the EU has to decide what the price will be for Britain to enter those discussions.”

Since last October, the EU has agreed temporary contingency measures, lasting between six and nine months, to keep aircraft flying and ports, rail and road freight links open if Britain crashes out without a deal.

Other measures, lasting 12 months, keep City of London access to European markets for key sectors of the finance industry to prevent the risk of full-blown financial meltdown.

Continued on


Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP. Senior figures in the party have privately made clear that they could live with a much softer Brexit as long as it fully protected the union between Britain and Northern Ireland PA/DOMINIC LIPINSKI

Brexit: Customs union plan could sway DUP and Nationalists (The Times)

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP. Senior figures in the party have privately made clear that they could live with a much softer Brexit as long as it fully protected the union between Britain and Northern Ireland

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor | Kieran Andrews, Scottish Political Editor
March 29 2019, 12:01am, The Times

Supporters of a soft Brexit are in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party and Scottish Nationalists about keeping Britain in the customs union and single market after the country leaves.

Before another round of voting on alternative Brexit proposals in the Commons on Monday, supporters of the so-called Common Market 2.0 proposal have been asked into meetings with both party leaderships.

Talks are also continuing with the Labour leadership, which encouraged its MPs to vote for the proposal on Wednesday night but stopped short of whipping for it. One source claimed that Labour MPs supporting a second referendum had put pressure on the leadership not to fully endorse the rival proposal to reduce its chances of gaining a majority.

The People’s Vote campaign and Common Market 2.0 supporters have been at loggerheads for months over which “soft” or no-Brexit option has the most chance of getting a majority.

Under Common Market 2.0, which was proposed by Nick Boles, the Tory MP, Britain would remain in a customs union with the European Union unless alternative arrangements could be found to protect frictionless trade at the Irish border. Britain would also remain in the single market with a similar relationship to the bloc as Norway has.

While the plan would result in minimum disruption to trade, Britain would not be able to negotiate its own trade deals. It would also have to allow free movement of people.

On Wednesday night the proposal was defeated in the Commons by a majority of 94. An amendment in favour of a second referendum was defeated by 27 votes. However, analysis of the results suggests that the scale of the defeats are misleading. On Common Market 2.0, the SNP’s 35 MPs abstained as did 60 Labour MPs. The DUP’s ten MPs also abstained.

Continued on


Brexit amendments vote: MPs get chance to take their pick (The Times)

Henry Zeffman, Political Correspondent | Oliver Wright, Policy Editor
March 27 2019, 12:00pm, The Times

This evening, for the first time since Britain decided to leave the European Union in 2016, MPs will get the chance to vote on what kind of Brexit they favour.

In the past 24 hours groups of MPs have put forward 16 motions for debate this afternoon. They range from a hard, no-deal Brexit to the softest type of departure that would keep Britain in both the customs union and single market.

MPs will be able to vote in favour of as many options as they like and by tonight we will know for what, if anything, there is majority support.

So what are the options, who supports them and could they be negotiated with Brussels?

Permanent customs union
Under this plan the UK would implement Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement but also negotiate a continuing customs union with the EU. This would mitigate but not remove the problem of the Irish border and come closer to “frictionless” trade with the EU while preserving Mrs May’s desire to end free movement of people. But Britain could not strike new free trade deals.

Who backs it? Labour’s official policy is supportive of a customs union although it also wants a seat at the table in the EU’s trade negotiations with new partners and could pick other holes in this plan. Few in Brussels believe this is any more than a pipe dream. Some business-focused Tory MPs who backed Mrs May’s deal will also regard this as the next best option. There have been intriguing signals that the DUP could accept a permanent customs union.

Who opposes it? Conservative MPs for whom striking new trade deals around the world is the great prize of Brexit.

How would Europe respond? This option could certainly be discussed with the European Union. Michel Barnier, its chief negotiatior, has made clear that if Mrs May’s red lines changed then so would the EU position.

How likely is it to get a majority? Labour will back it, and so will a number of Tory MPs. Much will depend on the SNP and the Lib Dems. If they came out in support it is almost certain to win a majority.

Norway Plus (Common Market 2.0)
Spearheaded by Nick Boles, the former Tory minister, this involves Britain passing Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement but also negotiating continued membership of the single market alongside a customs union until and unless technology can be found to remove the need for border checks. This would solve the Irish border question and trade between the UK and the EU would effectively remain the same. But it would require the UK to continue to allow free movement of people and leave it subject to EU rules without any say in how they are made.

Who backs it? As well as Mr Boles the leading proponents are the Tory MP Robert Halfon and the Labour MPs Stephen Kinnock and Lucy Powell. Unshackled from the whip, many MPs on both sides are thought to believe it is a sensible compromise.

Who opposes it? Those who believe it is Brexit in name only. Also MPs on both sides who feel the referendum was a verdict on immigration so it would not be right to keep free movement.

How would Europe respond? This is an option that could be negotiated with the EU, although it would not be as straightforward as it proponents claim. There would be strict conditions on this type of relationship — and the UK would be required to continue paying into EU budgets.

How likely is it to get a majority? Labour are preparing to whip MPs to back the plan and it could also win the support of dozens of Tory MPs. Its chances of getting a majority could depend on what the SNP’s 30-odd MPs do — if they back it or abstain then it could go through. Intriguingly, the DUP could also back this option as it would solve the Irish border issue and by signalling their support, the unionists could really up the ante on the government to make further concessions.

Continued on


Protesters gather in London for the Put it to the People March. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

One million join march against Brexit as Tories plan to oust May (The Guardian)

Organisers hail UK’s ‘biggest-ever demo’, while Tom Watson leads calls for fresh referendum

Toby Helm and Michael Savage
Sat 23 Mar 2019 23.26 GMT, The Guardian

In one of the biggest demonstrations in British history, a crowd estimated at over one million people yesterday marched peacefully through central London to demand that MPs grant them a fresh referendum on Brexit.

The Put it to the People march, which included protesters from all corners of the United Kingdom and many EU nationals living here, took place amid extraordinary political turmoil and growing calls on prime minister Theresa May to resign. Some cabinet ministers are considering her de facto deputy David Lidington as an interim replacement for her, although as pro-Remain he would be strongly opposed by Brexiters.

Organisers of the march said precise numbers had been difficult to gauge, but they believed the protest could have been even bigger than that against the Iraq war in February 2003.

The decision by so many to take part, waving EU flags and banners and carrying effigies of Theresa May, came just three days after the prime minister said in a televised statement to the nation that she believed the British people did not support another referendum, and blamed MPs for trying to block their will.

Senior politicians from all the main parties joined the march, including Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, former Tory deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the SNP leader and first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

Addressing the crowd in Parliament Square – as chants of “Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” rang out – Watson said May could not ignore the march and had to give the people a second vote. “The prime minister claims she speaks for Britain. Well, have a look out of the window, prime minister,” he said.

Continued on


David Lidington with May: at least six ministers favour the cabinet office minister as caretaker in No 10

Cabinet coup to ditch Theresa May for emergency PM (The Times)

David Lidington with May: at least six ministers favour the cabinet office minister as caretaker in No 10

Tim Shipman, Political Editor
March 24 2019, 12:01am,
The Sunday Times

Theresa May was at the mercy of a full-blown cabinet coup last night as senior ministers moved to oust the prime minister and replace her with her deputy, David Lidington.

In a frantic series of private telephone calls, senior ministers agreed the prime minister must announce she is standing down, warning that she has become a toxic and “erratic” figure whose judgment has “gone haywire”.

As up to 1m people marched on the streets of London against Brexit yesterday, May’s fate was being decided elsewhere.

The Sunday Times spoke to 11 cabinet ministers who confirmed that they wanted the prime minister to make way for someone else.

The plotters plan to confront May at a cabinet meeting tomorrow and demand that she announces she is quitting. If she refuses, they will threaten mass resignations or publicly demand her head.

Last night, the conspirators were locked in talks to try to reach a consensus deal on a new prime minister so there does not have to be a protracted leadership contest.

At least six ministers are supportive of installing Lidington, the de facto deputy prime minister, as a caretaker in No 10 to deliver Brexit and then make way for a full leadership contest in the autumn.

Lidington’s supporters include cabinet remainers Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, also believes Lidington should take over if May refuses this week to seek a new consensus deal on Brexit.

Crucially, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, has agreed to put his own leadership ambitions on hold until the autumn to clear the way for Lidington — as long as his main rivals do the same.

Lidington is understood not to be pressing for the top job but is prepared to take over if that is the will of cabinet. He would agree not to stand in the contest to find a permanent leader.

A cabinet source said: “David’s job would be to secure an extension with the EU, find a consensus for a new Brexit policy and then arrange an orderly transition to a new leader.”

However, others called for Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt to take charge instead. Hunt, the foreign secretary, does not support Lidington because he believes he would do a deal with Labour to take Britain into a permanent customs union with the EU, although he has lost confidence in May’s ability to take advice or deliver the deal.

Continued on


The Speaker, John Bercow, delivers his ruling to MPs today GETTY IMAGES

John Bercow’s ruling on third vote could scupper Theresa May’s Brexit deal (The Times)

The Speaker, John Bercow, delivers his ruling to MPs today

PM must ‘substantially’ alter agreement

Oliver Wright, Esther Webber
March 18 2019, 5:00pm, The Times

Theresa May’s hopes of forcing her Brexit deal through the Commons at the 11th hour were dealt a potentially fatal blow by the Speaker today.

In a ruling described by one government source as “unbelievable” John Bercow said that the prime minister could not bring her deal back to the Commons again unless it had been “substantially” altered.

His move, relying on a centuries-old parliamentary convention, drives a coach and horses through the government’s strategy of whittling down opposition to the withdrawal agreement through repeated votes.

Mrs May had been expected to put her deal to MPs again this week, before the European Council on Thursday, if she could win the last-minute backing of the Democratic Unionist Party. That now looks impossible and could potentially thwart an attempt to give MPs a final vote on the agreement ahead of Brexit day a week on Thursday.

Mr Bercow based his ruling on a parliamentary convention dating back to 1604 that states a question “may not be brought forward again during the same session” of parliament if it was “substantially” the same as a previous question.

Continued on



Brexit votes: what do the results mean and what happens next? (The Times)

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor, March 14 2019, The Times

What happened in the Commons today?

By just two votes the government succeeded in defeating an amendment put forward by the chairman of the Brexit select committee, Hilary Benn, that would have handed parliament control of the Brexit process and allow MPs to vote on different Brexit options next week.

What does the result mean?

In the short term at least it strengthens Theresa May’s hand and, to a small extent, increases the chances that the prime minister will eventually get her deal passed by the Commons before March 29.

It means that, for now, the government retains control of the parliamentary timetable and can stop MPs trying to coalesce around an alternative to Mrs May’s deal.

However, the prime minister still faces an uphill struggle: she needs to win over the Democratic Unionist Party and the vast majority of her own Brexiteers if she is to stand any chance of getting her deal passed next week. Even then she would probably need around 20 Labour MPs to switch sides and back the deal.

What else did MPs vote on today?

MPs passed the main government motion by 412 votes to 202 stating that if Mrs May’s deal is passed by next Wednesday night the prime minister will go to Brussels and seek an extension of Article 50 until June 30 to pass the legislation needed to ratify the withdrawal agreement.

The motion “notes” that if no-deal is in place the EU is “likely to require a clear purpose for any extension not least to determine its length”.

It adds that any extension beyond June 30, 2019, would require the UK to hold European parliament elections in May 2019.

The Cabinet Office minister David Lidington told MPs that if there were an extension the government would stage two weeks of debate after the EU summit from March 21-22 for the Commons to try to establish a majority around a different plan.

Continued on



Where do we stand now? (The Times)

Brexit vote: MPs poised to reject no deal

What is happening today?
MPs are debating the government’s motion on a no-deal Brexit. It is not quite a clean rejection of leaving without a deal. The motion tabled by Theresa May states its opposition to a no-deal Brexit on March 29 but also recognises that this is what will happen at the end of the month unless the UK and the EU both ratify a deal.

It is on this precise formulation that the prime minister has offered her MPs a free vote.

How will MPs vote on the government’s no-deal motion?

The common consensus is that there is a majority against no-deal among MPs. That consensus exists for good reason: a majority backed a (non-binding) amendment tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey opposing no-deal this year.

The government’s motion is more complicated: it does not straightforwardly reject the possibility of a no-deal Brexit taking place.

Continued on


Senior Brexiteers are calling for Theresa May to resign by June

Theresa May told she must quit to save Brexit (The Sunday Times)

Senior Brexiteers are calling for Theresa May to resign by June

Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler
March 10 2019, 7:30am,
The Sunday Times

Theresa May is battling to save her premiership this weekend as cabinet ministers warned she may have to fall on her sword to save Brexit.

In a final throw of the dice, Philip Hammond will offer Tory MPs a £20bn Brexit “bribe” this week to finally “end austerity” if they support the prime minister’s deal.

The chancellor will use his spring statement on the public finances on Wednesday to pledge to pump money into the police, schools and even some tax cuts in a spending review this autumn — but only if parliament votes for a deal.

This weekend May’s team was warned by senior Brexiteers that she would get her deal passed only if she offered to resign by June so a new prime minister could lead the second phase of negotiations.

In a sign that senior colleagues are abandoning her, one cabinet minister said: “I don’t believe there is a single one of us who thinks it’s a good idea for her to stay beyond June.” Another, previously loyal, added: “She’s run out of road.”

Senior figures revealed that:

■ May’s aides are considering persuading her to offer to resign as soon as the deal is passed in order to get MPs back on board.

■ Senior cabinet ministers have held private talks about whether they will have to visit May to tell her to go as early as this week.

■ A ministerial aide predicted that if Labour tabled another vote of no confidence in the government, “Tories will vote for it” in order to “bring her down”.

■ Allies of the four main contenders to succeed her — Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Dominic Raab — said they were “ready to go” and that “things could move quickly”.

Continued on


Theresa May in a tartan peace scarf before the Commons votes. She said afterwards there was a “stable” majority for a deal TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

Brexit amendments: Theresa May unites Tories behind fresh talks with Brussels (The Times)

Theresa May in a tartan peace scarf before the Commons votes. She said afterwards there was a “stable” majority for a deal

Francis Elliott, Political Editor | Henry Zeffman, Political Correspondent | Sam Coates | Oliver Wright. January 30 2019, 12:00am, The Times.

MPs vote for backstop bargaining as Corbyn agrees to meet PM and the EU insists it will not reopen deal

Theresa May will return to Brussels to demand concessions on the Brexit divorce deal after uniting her warring party last night to secure a Commons victory.

The prime minister defeated efforts by MPs to delay Brexit and won a vote on an amendment put forward by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, to replace the Irish backstop guarantee with “alternative arrangements”.

Mrs May won the reprieve two weeks after the Commons inflicted its historic defeat on her Brexit deal. She committed herself to seeking a time limit on the backstop, achieving a unilateral exit from it or persuading the European Union that technology could remove the need for a hard border.

“If this house can come together, we can deliver the decision the British people took in June 2016, restore faith in our democracy and get on with building a country that works for everyone,” she said. “As prime minister I will work with members across the house to do just that.”

The options were immediately and forcefully rejected by the EU as a chorus of national leaders and the bloc’s most senior officials said that there would be no renegotiation.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said: “The backstop is part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation.” In a statement the Irish government also rejected re-opening the backstop, describing it as a “carefully negotiated compromise”.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, said the backstop remained “necessary”, while Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said there was “no majority to re-open or dilute” the withdrawal agreement.

Continued on



Brexit amendments: how MPs might take back control (The Times)

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor – January 22 2019, 12:00pm, The Times

Next Tuesday MPs will, for the first time, get the chance to seize control of the Brexit process. Under the law the government must table what will be an amendable motion in the House of Commons on the way forward.

And MPs from across the political spectrum fully intend to take advantage of it — to try and amend it to dictate the terms of what happens next. Some of those amendments have already been tabled and more are expected in the coming days.

So what are the amendments so far; what would they do, and what are the potential problems?

The Grieve amendment

What is it?
It is one of two procedural amendments designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

Under the law as it stands, Britain will leave the European Union with or without a deal on March 29.

The problem for MPs who oppose a no-deal Brexit is that under Britain’s constitutional convention, the government controls the parliamentary timetable.

In effect this means that a no-deal Brexit can only be stopped with government support.

But because Britain does not have a written constitution this potentially opens the door to novel parliamentary procedure (and tactics) to upend convention and force a change of approach on the government.

The Grieve amendment would suspend House of Commons standing orders that currently give the government the power to control the business of the Commons.

Who supports it?
Its lead author is Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general, and it is backed by Tory former ministers including Justine Greening, Sam Gyimah and Philip Lee. It also has support from Labour backbenchers — mainly those who want a second referendum.

What effect would it have?
The Grieve plan is basically a mechanism to force so-called indicative votes on the government. This would allow MPs to vote either for or against a second referendum; a Norway-style soft Brexit; or indeed a no-deal Brexit. While the motion would not have the effect of changing the law, the idea is that it would force MPs to come up with a plan that could command majority support. Those behind the scheme argue that no government could reject the settled will of parliament even if it was technically non-binding. They also believe it will show that there are at least 300 MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit.

What are its problems?
The main one is that any motion could be disregarded by the government if it so chose. The prime minister could, for example, choose to call a general election, arguing that parliament was going against the will of the people and so she needed a fresh mandate.

It is also possible that the process could be indecisive. It is far from clear that there is a majority in the Commons in favour of any kind of option. If all options were voted down the whole process might not achieve very much at all.

The Cooper amendment

What is it?
It starts from the same premise of the Grieve amendment. It would also suspend House of Commons standing orders that give the government the power to control the business of the House of Commons.

But instead of a motion, the Cooper plan would involve MPs debating a bill that was tabled yesterday instructing the government to lay a motion extending Article 50 until the end of the year if agreement cannot be reached by a specified date.

Continued on


A photo of Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, who has called for a free vote on plans for extending Article 50 EPA/ANDY RAIN

Dozens of ministers ready to quit over no-deal Brexit (The Times)

Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, has called for a free vote on plans for extending Article 50

Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor
January 22 2019, 12:01am. The Times.

Amber Rudd warns No 10 to give Tories free vote on a plan to stop a no-deal Brexit

Up to 40 members of the government will resign next week if Conservative MPs are banned from voting for a plan to stop a no-deal Brexit, No 10 has been told.

Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, has demanded that all Tory MPs are allowed a free vote on plans that would clear the path for extending Article 50 — the mechanism by which Britain leaves the European Union.

Richard Harrington, the business minister, confirmed yesterday that he would resign if the government pursued a no-deal Brexit.

Margot James, the culture minister, and Tobias Ellwood, the defence minister, were among those said to be considering their positions. Mr Ellwood used Twitter yesterday to call for an extension to Article 50.

Ms Rudd’s intervention suggests that her position could be in doubt if she is barred from voting for the amendment, although her office refused to say whether she would regard it as a resignation issue. Those who are considering resigning include cabinet ministers, junior ministers and ministerial aides.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, who said last month that it would be “very difficult” to remain in the government if it pursued a no-deal Brexit, is standing by Theresa May and is not looking at standing down.

One source, who backs the plan to block no-deal, said: “For too long parliamentarians have shouted from the peanut gallery about what they won’t support. Now is the time for them to get on the stage and show what they would support. If done properly this could help the prime minister to go to Brussels in a stronger position.”

Mrs May indicated in the Commons yesterday that she was likely to reject the request, leading to a stand-off within the party. The prime minister told parliament that she could not take a no-deal Brexit off the table because an approved alternative was yet to emerge, and that the EU would be unlikely to postpone Britain’s exit date — determined by the Article 50 withdrawal notice — without an exit plan.

Julian Smith, the chief whip, will decide at the end of the week whether to give MPs a free vote.

Continued on


Supporters of a new referendum might hold out through fear of a no-deal Brexit ANDY RAIN/EPA

Brexit: Ten crucial questions as Britain takes a leap into the unknown (The Times)

Supporters of a new referendum might hold out through fear of a no-deal Brexit ANDY RAIN/EPA

Oliver Wright, Policy Editor. January 17 2019, 12:01am.

Labour’s push for an election has been thwarted but the country still faces a daunting array of possible outcomes

A general election is an unlikely but possible outcome: either Theresa May calls an early poll or one is forced on her by the loss of a vote of confidence.

The first option is less plausible because polls show that an election today would not substantially alter the parliamentary arithmetic. It is also next to impossible to see how she could craft a Brexit manifesto that did not irrevocably split her party.

The second option is more likely but it would require the Democratic Unionist Party or Conservative MPs to vote against the government in a confidence motion. That could happen if Mrs May succeeds in getting a deal through parliament that it objects to. It could also happen as a last-ditch move by Tory Brexiteers to prevent parliament from extending or revoking Article 50.

If Jeremy Corbyn pivoted and backed a second referendum then there could be a Commons majority for another Brexit vote. So far more than 70 of his backbenchers have come out publicly for a second referendum. With frontbench supporters factored in, a majority of the parliamentary party are probably in favour.

Then again, some Labour MPs who support a second referendum would also be prepared to countenance a soft, Norway-style Brexit rather than running the risk of another vote that voters could see as a betrayal of the 2016 result. The best chance for the People’s Vote campaign is for other Brexit options to fall, leaving only a no-deal departure or another referendum on the cards.

Continued on



MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal: what happens next? (The Times)

Oliver Wright, policy editor. January 15 2019, 9:00pm, The Times

What will Theresa May do next?
In the immediate aftermath of her defeat the prime minister announced that for the first time in the Brexit process she would work with MPs from other parties to try to identify “what would be required” to secure parliamentary backing for an alternative deal to leave the European Union. She added that if those meetings yielded ideas, the government would “explore them” with the EU.

However, Downing Street insisted afterwards that Mrs May was not looking to depart from her core principles of leaving the customs union and the single market. A spokesman also said that the prime minister still did not believe that it was necessary to extend Article 50, despite a political consensus that there is not enough time to devise and pass a new deal by March.

Mrs May also announced that she would give MPs the chance to debate and vote on Labour’s motion of no confidence in her government. The vote is expected to be held tonight.

Will Mrs May survive a vote of confidence?
The expectation is that she will. She will have to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party, which is vehemently opposed to her deal but has indicated that it will support the government in confidence motions as long as the deal is not passed. If, as expected, the confidence motion fails and Jeremy Corbyn fails to secure a general election, there will be pressure on the Labour leader to outline a new Brexit policy. Many Labour members want him to call for a second referendum, but he may buy time by seizing on Mrs May’s offer of cross-party talks. He will hope that the government moves towards Labour’s position of keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU and maintaining close ties to the single market.

When will Mrs May go back to Brussels?
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, flew to Brussels from a meeting of the European parliament in Strasbourg last night expecting “emergency” talks within 48 hours, but Mrs May said that she would not go to Brussels until next week at the earliest, after the cross-party talks in Westminster.

Continued on


People react while watching the Brexit deal vote on a television in Brussels, Belgium.Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

EU Expresses Horror at Brexit Vote, Refuses to Reopen Deal (Bloomberg)

People react while watching the Brexit deal vote on a television in Brussels, Belgium.Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

By Ian Wishart
January 16, 2019, 12:06 AM GMT+3 Updated on January 16, 2019, 12:33 AM GMT+3

  • European Commission’s Juncker tells May: ‘Time is almost up’
  •  Macron: EU won’t help fix U.K.’s ‘internal political problem’

The European Union said it was horrified by the massive scale of the U.K. Parliament defeat of the Brexit deal agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May but said there was no option to renegotiate.

Diplomats said they were stunned by the extent of the loss. As they tried on Tuesday night to plot the EU response, they said they think there’s little more they can do to help May and fear that the U.K. tumbling out without agreement in March has now become a real prospect.

Despite only 10 weeks to go until the U.K.’s scheduled departure, officials in Brussels ruled out the prospect of an extraordinary summit of the 27 EU leaders any time soon. They said there’s little to discuss if lawmakers in the U.K. can’t decide what they want.

European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker told the U.K: “Time is almost up.” French President Emmanuel Macron chimed in also to remind May that the EU won’t offer concessions to solve “an internal U.K. politics problem.”

‘I will be very vigilant on that,” Macron told reporters in Normandy, northern France. “ We went as far as we could.”

Continued on