Gordon Brown: Theresa May's Brexit plan doomed

Gordon Brown: Theresa May's Brexit plan doomed

It is unclear what happens if the deal is rejected as Britain is due to leave on March 29.

Rudd went on to say she supported May's agreement and took aim at "indulgent" critics of the deal - including MPs who "think they are standing on principles but they're not getting things done".

A Downing Street spokeswoman rejected suggestions that the Withdrawal Agreement could be tweaked ahead of next week's vote to take account of concerns expressed by MPs.

The day before the vote, on December 10, the European Court of Justice of Justice will deliver a judgment on whether Britain can unilaterally reverse its move to leave.

May's plans are vulnerable to more change at the end of the debate, and advice from a senior European Union legal aide that Britain had the right to withdraw its Brexit notice opened yet another front in her battle to win the approval of parliament. There was a real danger that Parliament would try to "steal" Brexit from the British people, Mr Fox told a parliamentary committee yesterday. "That's not right." But May is facing opposition from both sides of the Brexit debate.

'We have been telling you this for one and a half years since the referendum and how this works, so I am surprised that after all these years it is still part of the grown-up debate in the UK.

Theresa May no longer appears in charge of her party many of whom voted against her in historic scenes in parliament last night.

Changes could though be made to the political declaration on the future relationship if it helped get the deal through at a second attempt, one of the diplomats said.

For them, there may be another way out.

Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab suggested it could take a decade for the backstop measure to be struck down by the European Court of Justice even though it was only meant to be temporary.

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But May's spokesman told reporters: "It does nothing in any event to change the clear position of the government that Article 50 is not going to be revoked".

In addition, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed her SNP MPs will be voting against the deal.

It said the economic impact on Ireland would be worse than in the UK.

"I do not believe we can afford the economic costs of a no deal Brexit", Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs, adding that he did not believe the United Kingdom could bear the societal costs of ignoring the 2016 referendum result.

The vote against the government over contempt proceedings, won by 311 votes to 293, was a smaller margin than some had predicted.

At a rowdy session of parliament, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox outlined the legal advice he had given to the government, including over a "backstop" arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland if a future UK-EU trading deal is not reached in time.

May could also use this as a way to convince certain pro-EU Labour MPs to back the deal, he added. She faces an uphill battle to convince her ruling Conservative Party to back her amid a string of cabinet resignations and an abortive leadership challenge.

It confirms Britain risks remaining "indefinitely" in the so-called backstop, which could keep the whole country in an EU customs union for years after Brexit, while also keeping the province of Northern Ireland in the bloc's single market.

"I can't understand the hysteria around a People's Vote if you believe in what you are trying to propose", she said.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the influential eurosceptic ERG group, told the Daily Mail that such a proposal would mean ripping up the Withdrawal Agreement and renegotiating it entirely, something the European Union has ruled out.

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