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Brexit vote D-Day as May faces defeat and a vote of no confidence

Theresa May is facing the worst Commons defeat in almost 100 years as MPs plot to kill off her deal and push Britain towards a softer Brexit – or stop it completely. 

Allies of the Prime Minister acknowledged her plans could be rejected by a majority approaching 200 votes – eclipsing the record government loss of modern times in 1924 – but added: ‘She is not going to abandon the deal and she is not going to quit.’ 

MPs including Hilary Benn have pulled amendments to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement motion in order to set up a ‘clean vote’ and inflict the worst possible defeat on the PM.

And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will then try to exploit Tory divisions by forcing a formal vote of no confidence in the Government tomorrow, which could usher in a general election.

May loyalist Michael Gove invoked Game of Thrones to warn MPs against voting down her deal and said: ‘If we don’t vote for it tonight, in the words of Jon Snow: “Winter is coming”.’

Mrs May will have three days to set out her ‘Plan B’ but MPs are plotting to wrestle control of the process from her. 

Experts believe that if she is defeated in the Commons tonight a softer Brexit such as the Norway-style free trade deal, a second referendum or a general election are now the most likely outcomes.

Theresa May smiles from her car last night on the eve of the vote that could destroy her Brexit deal

Theresa May appealed to the Commons to back her deal yesterday - but tonight faces the largest defeat since 1924 with her own Brexit deal set to be killed off

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today) will then try to force a formal vote of no confidence in the Government

Theresa May appealed to the Commons to back her deal yesterday – but tonight faces the largest defeat since 1924 and Jeremy Corbyn (pictured today) will then try to force a formal vote of no confidence in the Government

An EU flag is flown over Westminster today as MPs try to wrestle back control of Brexit from the PM

An EU flag is flown over Westminster today as MPs try to wrestle back control of Brexit from the PM

Dawn breaks over Westminster as the Prime Minister faces another fight for her political life today

Dawn breaks over Westminster as the Prime Minister faces another fight for her political life today

How the Commons will vote: Theresa May's deal is expected to lose heavily on Tuesday night, which could lead to a no-confidence motion and potentially a general election 

How the Commons will vote: Theresa May’s deal is expected to lose heavily on Tuesday night, which could lead to a no-confidence motion and potentially a general election 

In a last-ditch appeal to Parliament yesterday, Mrs May urged MPs opposed to her plans to give the proposed withdrawal agreement ‘a second look’ in the light of assurances in a letter from EU chiefs Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk yesterday.

Timeline to Theresa’s Commons defeat 

12.30PM: Assuming there are no delays, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC will stand up to open the final day of debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Beforehand Speaker John Bercow will select the amendments to the motion proposed by different groups of MPs. There are likely to be at least half a dozen.

During the day MPs who have not spoken during the previous days of debate will stand to make their speeches.

6.45pm: Theresa May will sum up the debate and make a final appeal to MPs to back the deal.

7pm: Voting will begin. First, MPs will vote on the amendments to the motion. If any pass, the final vote on the deal is with the amendment attached. 

Each vote will take around 15 minutes, meaning the vote on the deal could be 9pm or later.

9.30pm: After the votes, Mrs May will make a statement setting out her response and the next steps the government will take.

She acknowledged that the plan was not perfect, but added: ‘When the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask: ‘Did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union?’

Mrs May said critics must to heed the advice of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox who said that her Brexit deal is the ‘only politically practicable means’ of leaving the EU. 

Tory Eurosceptics and Mrs May’s governing partners in the DUP last night rejected her plea. 

Sky News forecast the PM would be defeated by 422 votes to 197.

A former Cabinet minister said: ‘There’s no avoiding it, this is the Charge of the Light Brigade’. 

As the most significant vote for decades approaches:

  • MPs including Hilary Benn have pulled amendments to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement motion in order to set up a ‘clean vote’ and inflict the worst possible defeat on the PM;
  • Friends of International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said she would vote for the plan, despite having failed to back it in public;
  • Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said Mrs May’s deal was ‘the only politically practicable and available means’ of leaving the EU;
  • Former Tory ministers Nick Boles, Nicky Morgan and Sir Oliver Letwin vowed to press ahead with plans to allow Parliament to seize control of Brexit;
  • Tory whip Gareth Johnson became the latest government figure to resign over the deal;
  • Mr Corbyn told Labour MPs he would not hold off from calling a vote of no confidence;
  • Labour MP Tulip Siddiq has postponed a planned caesarean section to cast her vote against Mrs May’s plan;
  • Mrs May refused to rule out extending Article 50;

The Prime Minister is expected to make an immediate statement to MPs tonight on her next move. 

An ally said: ‘In the words of Churchill, she will keep buggering on. She is not going to abandon the deal and she is not going to quit.’ 

Labour MP Hilary Benn has pulled his amendment to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement motion today which would have rejected both the PM’s deal and leaving the EU with no deal.

Mr Benn, who is chairman of the Commons Exiting the European Union Committee, had Tory support for his proposal but tweeted that he had decided to act because ‘its vital that we now get the clearest expression of view from the House on the Government’s deal’.

He said he would vote against the motion and intends to pursue a ‘no to no deal’ vote at the earliest opportunity. 

The Prime Minister hailed the 'assurances' from Brussels saying they showed the UK would not be trapped in the Irish border backstop

The Prime Minister hailed the ‘assurances’ from Brussels saying they showed the UK would not be trapped in the Irish border backstop

The vote was originally due last month but was pulled at the last minute in the face of overwhelming opposition.

The crucial votes that could kill off the PM’s Brexit deal 

TIME LIMIT

Tabled by a loyal Tory backbencher, Northern Ireland Select Committee chairman Andrew Murrison, this would impose a sunset clause requiring the Northern Ireland backstop to expire on December 31, 2021. The EU has rejected such a time limit but both Tory arch Brexiteers and the Northern Irish DUP demand one as a condition of support for the deal. Last night there were rumours ministers were quietly urging MPs to support it. Any explicit endorsement by Mrs May would enrage Brussels. But if passed, it would likely save the PM from a painful defeat.

THE BACKSTOP

Proposed by Sir Hugo Swire, this would give parliament an effective veto over whether to enter the Northern Ireland backstop or extend transition at the end of the 20-month transition period. Government insiders say the veto would not be binding but it could force the two sides to come to an alternative arrangement. Ministers have said they accept the spirit of the amendment. If selected by the Speaker, it could help build support among Tory MPs but is unlikely to be a game-changer.

THE CUSTOMS UNION

The Labour amendment, put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, says the deal should be rejected because it fails to provide for a permanent customs union and a ‘strong single market’ deal. It also rejects leaving with no deal.

Likely to be selected but unlikely to get enough cross party support.

WORKERS RIGHTS

John Mann, one of a handful of Labour MPs set to vote for the May deal, it provides additional assurances on protecting workers rights, environmental standards and health and safety. Ministers have said they are sympathetic towards its aims. Unlikely to be called by the Speaker.

The PM pledged to negotiate ‘legally binding’ assurances from the EU to calm fears that the so-called backstop, which is designed to prevent a hard border on Ireland if trade talks falter, from keeping the UK permanently in a customs union. She acknowledged that the letter from the EU fell short of what she had requested.

The letter said the EU did not want the backstop to become permanent and Brussels would not impose new laws.

But former Tory minister Mark Francois dismissed the concessions as only ‘a small fig leaf’.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: ‘As things stand we could not support Theresa May’s deal and therefore it will be defeated.’ On Sunday, four Brexiteer Tory MPs came out in support of the withdrawal agreement because of concerns about the threat to Brexit if it is voted down.

The deal suffered its first parliamentary defeat last night as the Lords voted by 321 votes to 152 to reject it. Mrs May is on track to beat the current record of a 166-vote defeat, suffered by Ramsay MacDonald in 1924.

Tory Brexiteer Sir Edward Leigh yesterday became the latest in a slow trickle of MPs to say they would not back Mrs May, despite concerns about the details of her proposals.

Sir Edward said: ‘What worries me is that if she [the PM] loses by over 100 the EU might offer her nothing and the Remainers might take control completely.’

She added: ‘By the way, I think this would be the end of the Conservative Party if we delay Brexit, if we have a second referendum.’

Former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clark, a Remainer who is also backing Mrs May’s proposals, urged MPs to ‘lift our eyes from the chaos’ and support the deal.

But he said Mrs May was in a near-impossible position, with an unholy alliance of hardline Brexiteers and the Labour front bench, ‘who think that if they cause crisis and deadlock it will result in leaving with no deal’.

On the other side, he said, diehard Remainers ‘think that if they cause chaos and deadlock it will lead to a second referendum’, adding: ‘One of them is wrong, but the problem is that she is up against both of them.’

Brexiteer Tory Sir Desmond Swayne called on Mrs May to suspend parliament until April in order to ‘guarantee Brexit’, and make it impossible for MPs to block a no-deal exit.

Gareth Johnson

Mr Johnson said in a letter to the PM that he could not 'in good conscience' stay in government

Gareth Johnson (left) announced his resignation, saying in a letter to the PM (right) that he could not ‘in good conscience’ stay in government

Sources close to Mr Stride said the note was simply a list of topics which had come up in the national conversation which he wanted to raise at a meeting, rather than any kind of prediction

Sources close to Mr Stride said the note was simply a list of topics which had come up in the national conversation which he wanted to raise at a meeting, rather than any kind of prediction

Theresa May (pictured on delivering her speech in Stoke-on-Trent today) urged Tory Eurosceptics to look at the mounting revolt by Remainers, and realise that Parliament is ready to block the country from crashing out

Theresa May (pictured on delivering her speech in Stoke-on-Trent today) urged Tory Eurosceptics to look at the mounting revolt by Remainers, and realise that Parliament is ready to block the country from crashing out

The letter from EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and council president Donald Tusk insists the Irish border backstop will only be 'temporary'

The letter from EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and council president Donald Tusk insists the Irish border backstop will only be ‘temporary’

It emerged over the weekend that Remainers from across parties are plotting an extraordinary bid to seize control from the government if it tries to push ahead with a no-deal 

A dozen Tory former ministers including Boris Johnson (pictured giving an interview in London today) have urged wavering colleagues to stand firm against the deal

A dozen Tory former ministers including Boris Johnson (pictured giving an interview in London today) have urged wavering colleagues to stand firm against the deal

Brexit. Conservative MP Nick Boles confirmed plans to tear up Commons rules so MPs could propose legislation – something the government currently has power over. 

Ministers fear Speaker John Bercow would help the rebellion. 

Last week he flouted procedural convention to select an amendment from Tory former minister Dominic Grieve which attempts to speed up the process for the Government to reveal what it will do next if the PM’s Brexit deal is rejected. 

But the fledgling revolt was at risk of collapsing after it was dismissed by pro-EU MPs. 

Senior Tory Sarah Wollaston, previously one of the most outspoken anti-Brexit rebels, said it would fly in the face of the constitution. 

Asked during an LBC radio interview today what would happen, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think the deal goes down. 

‘I think, possibly, some colleagues are being scared by this idea that there might be no Brexit as a result of voting it down. 

‘I think that’s nonsense. Britain will leave in March, absolutely, and that’s the bottom line.’  

A dozen leading Brexiteers – including eight former members of Mrs May’s Cabinet – have written to all Conservative MPs urging them to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal.

In a joint letter sent to every Tory MP, former ministers including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab call upon Mrs May to stage one final attempt to persuade the EU to drop the Irish backstop which threatens to halt Britain’s exit from the custom union indefinitely.

But if the EU fails to comply on agreeing such a deal, the Britain must ‘have the confidence’ to leave on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms on March 29. 

Baffled by Brexit? Here’s everything you need to know about the plots, the votes and the deals (and what today’s Commons showdown REALLY means)

MPs will today vote on Theresa May’s Brexit plan in what is set to be the most  important decision taken by Parliament since the Second World War.

The PM is expected to suffer a catastrophic defeat in the crunch vote, while MPs are seizing on her weakness to push their own plans for Britain’s future with the EU.

Politicians are deeply divided over whether Brexit should be soft or hard, and if the UK should go for a Norway-style deal or a Canada plus plan.

But the terms and arguments deployed by MPs are often steeped in jargon and bamboozling to the ordinary Brit.

Here are some of the things that will help you to finally understand the Brexit debate rocking Britain and its Parliament.

Theresa May (pictured in the Commons today)  has struck a deal with the EU - but MPs are expected to vote it down by a massive majority today

Theresa May (pictured in the Commons today)  has struck a deal with the EU – but MPs are expected to vote it down by a massive majority today

1. Plan B – what is it and why do we need one? 

Theresa May has struck a deal with the EU – but MPs are expected to vote it down by a massive majority today, meaning she will have to come up with a Plan B.

And last week week MPs passed an amendment put forward by Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve which gives the PM just three working days to come up with her new plan.

It means she will be hauled back to the Commons on Monday to spell out what she will do next.

The PM has so far refused to say what her Plan B will be, but she will be under huge pressure to rule out a no deal Brexit and say what direction  she plans to take the talks in next.

Remainers will want her to go for a Norway-style deal, which will keep the UK in the single market and therefore free movement, or a second referendum.

While Brexiteers will push for the PM to go for a Canada-style free deal which will take Britain fully out of the EU’s customs union and single market.

It is believed that Tory former ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve (pictured) are also involved in the plot have launched a plot to try to take over Brexit talks if the PM's deal is voted down today and she cannot come up with a plan in three days

It is believed that Tory former ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve (pictured) are also involved in the plot have launched a plot to try to take over Brexit talks if the PM’s deal is voted down today and she cannot come up with a plan in three days

2. The Remainer plot – who is behind it and how would it work?

A  group of Tory Remainers have launched a plot to try to take over Brexit talks if the PM’s deal is voted down today and she cannot come up with a plan in three days.

Tory MP Nick Boles said that if this happens the Liaison Committee – a committee of 32 senior MPs which is dominated by Remainers – should take over the talks.

It is believed that Tory former ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve are also involved in the plot.

This plan to sideline the Government would flout the rules of Parliament, but Commons Speaker John Bercow – who would have the final say on if this is possible or not – has made it clear he is happy to re-write the rules when it comes to Brexit.

No10 believe that if the plan succeeds then the MPs on the committee will push for a softer Brexit, for example to get a Norway-style deal which would keep the UK in the single market and therefore keeping free movement of people.

3. No deal – what would it mean for Britain and who opposes it?

Britain has been locked in talks with the EU to thrash out a Brexit deal, but if MPs vote it down today and a new plan cannot be quickly agreed then the UK will crash out with no deal.

But many MPs have warned they will do whatever it takes to block a no deal – fearing this will send the UK’s economy into meltdown. 

And a string of Cabinet ministers, including Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke are expected to quit the Cabinet in fury if the PM then backs a no deal Brexit.

Economic experts have issued dire warnings about the fall-out of a no deal with the CBI saying it could slash 8 per cent off the size of the UK’s economy and plunging the country into a massive recession.

But there is a group of die-hard Brexiteers in the Tory Party, including Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the European Research Group, who say there is nothing to fear about a no deal Brexit.

This group sees going for a no deal Brexit as a step towards their goal of achieving a Canada plus style trade deal with the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in the Commons today) is hoping to seize on the chaos if the PM's deal is voted down today to table a no cinfidence motion and try to topple Mrs May from No10

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in the Commons today) is hoping to seize on the chaos if the PM’s deal is voted down today to table a no cinfidence motion and try to topple Mrs May from No10

4. No Confidence Vote – what is it and who would back it? 

If the PM’s deal is voted down today then Jeremy Corbyn is expected to seize on the disarray to table a motion of no confidence in the government.

If the PM lost the vote, then another MP has 14 working days to hold and win a vote of confidence of MPs – if they manage this then they become PM. 

If no party leader can do this within the two weeks then another general election is called. 

But it is unlikely that the Labour leader will be able to win the backing of a single MP from the ranks of the Tories or the DUP – meaning his bid to topple Mrs May is likely to fail. 

5. General Election – how could one be called and who wants it?

Labour have been demanding an election, while many commentators believe that the Tories may end up having to call another election to break the political deadlock in Parliament.    

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, Mrs May would need the Commons to agree to hold another election – and many MPs will be dead-set against the plan which they fear would cost them their seats and could hand Mr Corbyn the keys to No10. 

But if the PM’s deal is voted down and MPs cannot agree an alternative before the UK leaves on March 29 then an election may end up being called to bring in new MPs who may be able back a deal.

Many MPs are pushing for a second referendum to be held, less than three years after voters backed Brexit (file pic of voting booth)

Many MPs are pushing for a second referendum to be held, less than three years after voters backed Brexit (file pic of voting booth)

6. Second referendum – why might we need one and what would the question be? 

Many MPs are pushing for a second referendum to be held, less than three years after voters backed Brexit.

Remainers argue that with MPs unable to agree a deal among themselves then the only way forward is to send the question back to the public.

Many Labour MPs, the Lib Dems and a powerful group of Tory MPs all back a second referendum.

But Mrs May has repeatedly ruled out holding one while she is PM, and even backers of the plan are at loggerheads over what should be on the ballot paper.

Some Remainers believe voters should be offered a choice between the PM’s plan and remaining in the EU on current terms, but some others believe a no deal Brexit on world trade organisation terms should be offered.

7. Who is Gareth Johnson, the latest Tory to quit the government?

Tory MP Gareth Johnson today quit as a whip whose job it is to comnvince his fellow Conservative MPs to back the PM’s plan – so he vcan opose the deal.

He is the latest in a long line of Tory MPs who have resigned as aides and ministers to voice their objections to her blueprint.

The MP for Dartford has a strongly Leave-supporting seat, and he was appointed an assistant whip, one of the most junior ranks, in November last year.

Sources said he had been ‘desperate’ to get into government, but pointed out that his voters were overwhelmingly Brexit-backing.  

Resigning today, he said he was  putting his ‘loyalty to the country above loyalty to the government’.   

From deal-killing amendments courtesy of the arch-Remainers to Corbyn’s Customs Union gambit: How Tuesday’s drama will unfold

By Jack Doyle for the Daily Mail

12.30pm: Assuming there are no delays, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC will stand up to open the final day of debate on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

  • Beforehand Speaker John Bercow will select the amendments to the motion proposed by different groups of MPs. There are likely to be at least half a dozen.
  • During the day MPs who have not spoken during the previous days of debate will stand to make their speeches.

6.45pm: Mrs May will sum up the debate and make a final appeal to MPs to back the deal.

7pm: Voting begins. First, MPs will vote on the amendments to the deal. If any pass, the final vote is on the deal with those amendments attached.

  • If enough Remainer Tory MPs back the Hilary Benn amendment (see below), the deal has in effect been voted down in advance.

9pm: Vote expected on the deal. After the vote Mrs May will make a statement setting out her response and the next steps the Government will take.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow (pictured) will select the amendments to the motion proposed by different groups of MPs. There are likely to be at least half a dozen

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow (pictured) will select the amendments to the motion proposed by different groups of MPs. There are likely to be at least half a dozen

… and those other crucial votes

Hilary’s deal-killer 

The most significant amendment by far, proposed by Labour’s arch-Remainer Hilary Benn, chairman of the Brexit select committee. It rejects Mrs May’s deal and ‘no deal’, and urges the Government to bring forward a motion on next steps ‘without delay’. It is backed by Tory supporters of a second referendum, including Dr Sarah Wollaston and Dominic Grieve, and is all but guaranteed to be called by the Speaker. If passed it would kill off Mrs May’s deal – but the Labour frontbench could refuse to support it.

Time limit for the backstop

Tabled by a loyal Tory backbencher, Northern Ireland select committee chairman Andrew Murrison, this would impose a ‘sunset clause’ requiring the Northern Ireland backstop to expire on December 31, 2021. The EU has rejected such a time limit but both Tory arch-Brexiteers and the Northern Irish DUP demand one as a condition of support for the deal. Last night there were rumours ministers were quietly urging MPs to support it. Any explicit endorsement by Mrs May would enrage Brussels but, if passed, it would likely save the PM from a painful defeat.

An amendment proposed by Labour's Hilary Benn (pictured) rejects Mrs May¿s deal and ¿no deal¿, and urges the Government to bring forward a motion on next steps ¿without delay¿

An amendment proposed by Labour’s Hilary Benn (pictured) rejects Mrs May’s deal and ‘no deal’, and urges the Government to bring forward a motion on next steps ‘without delay’

Parliamentary veto on the backstop 

Proposed by Sir Hugo Swire, this would give Parliament an effective veto at the end of the 20-month transition period over whether to enter the Northern Ireland backstop, or extend the transition. Government insiders say the veto would not be binding but it could force the two sides to come to an alternative arrangement. Ministers have said they accept the spirit of the amendment. If selected by the Speaker, it could help build support among Tory MPs but is unlikely to be a game-changer.

Corbyn’s customs union gambit  

The Labour amendment, put forward by Jeremy Corbyn, says the deal should be rejected because it fails to provide for a permanent customs union and a ‘strong single market’ deal. It also rejects leaving with no deal.Likely to be selected but unlikely to get enough cross-party support to pass.

Standing up for the workers

From John Mann – one of few Labour MPs set to vote for the deal – this amendment provides assurances on workers rights, environmental standards and health and safety. Ministers have said they are sympathetic towards its aims, but it is unlikely to be called by the Speaker. 

How will MPs make their decision on May’s Brexit deal and what will they vote on?

MPs will finally give their verdict on the Brexit deal tomorrow night – but how do they vote and what will they vote on? 

What will MPs vote on?  

MPs will be asked to approve or reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The deal is contained in two documents, the Withdrawal Agreement, which is a treaty, and the Future Framework, which is a political statement agreed between the UK and EU. 

But before the main vote, MPs will be asked to say yes or no to a raft of amendments. These are re-writes of the main Brexit deal motion that have been tabled by backbench MPs and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

How many amendments are there and which will be voted on? 

There are currently 12 amendments in front of MPs – and the deadline for tabling more is when the Commons finishes tonight, which could be as late as 2.30am.

Commons Speaker John Bercow will make the decision on which amendments are voted on tomorrow. He can select any number of amendments but does not have to choose them all. 

What do the main amendments say? 

The first amendment is from Jeremy Corbyn. It rejects the deal and instead sets out what Labour policy is instead – primarily a permanent UK-EU customs union with protections for workers rights and the environment.

Labour MP Hilary Benn has tabled an amendment with cross party support. It rejects the deal and also rejects a no deal Brexit, demanding the Government come up with an alternative plan before exit day. 

Tory MP Hugo Swire has tabled an amendment helpful to the Government – and ministers have agreed to support it. It approves the deal while setting out a series of votes MPs will get in future on using the Irish border backstop. It sets a ‘duty’ on the UK government to get Britain out of the backstop in no more than a year – but does not change the divorce deal, so the solution would have to be backed by the EU.

Labour MP John Mann has tabled another amendment that is backed by ministers. It approves the deal but adds a promise for Britain to mirror EU rules on workers’ rights and environmental protections in future. 

Tory MP Andrew Murrison is thought to be tabling a new amendment tonight. It would agree the deal but also demand it is re-negotiated to put a deadline on the backstop of December 2021. If this is voted for, it would be very unclear if the deal had been approved or not because the EU would have to agree to renegotiate. 

When will the vote happen? 

Votes will begin at 7pm tomorrow night, after the Prime Minister makes the final speech of the five day debate. 

Each ‘division’ of the Commons takes around 15 minutes as MPs have to physically walk through the aye and no lobbies to cast their vote.

This means voting could go on for hours.   

Which order will the votes happen? 

This will not be clear until the Speaker selects the amendments. It is likely amendments that reject the deal will be voted on first, followed by amendments that approve it with caveats.

The final vote will be on the main motion – with whatever amendments have been agreed attached to it. 

Can voting end early? 

This is also unclear but if one of the rejection amendments is accepted, it is likely voting will stop because it will be clear there is no majority of MPs in favour of the deal. 

This appears to be most likely to happen with the Hilary Benn amendment, which will be supported by almost all opposition MPs and could also be backed by Tory rebels opposed to no deal. 

‘Winter is coming’: Michael Gove likens historic Brexit showdown to Game of Thrones as he begs MPs to back May’s deal

Michael Gove has compared tonight’s Brexit vote to the final battle with the apocalyptic army of the frozen undead in Game of Thrones and warned MPs who destroy Theresa May’s deal: ‘Winter is coming’.

The Prime Minister’s Environment Secretary said Parliament will damage British democracy if it rejects her proposed EU divorce agreement at 9pm tonight. 

In a stark warning Mr Gove said today: ‘If we don’t vote for the deal tonight then in the words of Jon Snow – winter is coming’.

‘Winter is Coming’ in the motto of House Stark, whose hero and king Jon Snow leads the fight against the ‘White Walkers’ – an army of zombie soldiers bent on destroying mankind.

Michael Gove used the words of Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (played by Kit Harrington) to warn MPs to back Mrs May's Brexit deal

Michael Gove used the words of Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (played by Kit Harrington) to warn MPs to back Mrs May’s Brexit deal 

The Brexiteer turned to blockbuster television show Game of Thrones to give the gloomiest of warnings to MPs preparing to kill off Mrs May’s deal.

Mr Gove told the Today Programme: ‘The British people have placed a responsibility on us. Are we going to live up to that responsibility and vote to leave the European Union or are we going to disappoint them and damage our democracy by not voting to leave the EU?

‘If we don’t vote for this agreement then we risk playing into the hands who do not want Brexit to go ahead. The message sent to the people of Britain will be that the decision you have made is not being respected.

He added: ‘If we don’t vote for it tonight, in the words of John Snow: ‘Winter is coming’.

Theresa May is facing the worst Commons defeat in almost 100 years as MPs plot to kill off her deal and push Britain towards a softer Brexit – or stop it completely.

Mr Gove declined to predict a victory for the Prime Minister in Tuesday’s vote, saying he did not know which way it would go.

But he reiterated that remaining in the EU was worse than leaving without a deal, telling Today: ‘The real danger is if people do not vote for the Government this evening, we face either a no-deal Brexit, with the short-term economic damage that would bring, or worse: no Brexit at all.

‘We know there are people in the House of Commons and outside who have never made their peace with this decision, who want to overturn it.’

Mr Gove also defended the backstop agreed by Mrs May with Brussels, saying: ‘I think the whole point about the backstop is that it’s deeply uncomfortable for the EU.

‘If it is a trap for anyone, it’s a trap for the EU. Why? Because the European Union said at the very beginning of this process that there would be no cherry-picking, the four freedoms of the single market were indivisible.

‘But we have picked a whole bowl of glistening cherries, we have free access to the European market with no tariffs and no quotas but at the same time we say that European citizens have no freedom of movement.

‘We don’t pay a penny for that access, if we are worried about money after we leave and when we are in the backstop, and at the same time we can say to European nations, ‘Do you know what? Access to our territorial waters for fishing, access to our exclusive economic zone, forget about it’.

‘We are in a stronger position in the backstop.’

Is May’s deal already sunk? 100 Tories, the DUP and Labour have come out against – leaving her staring at defeat on December 11

Theresa May’s task of getting her Brexit deal past the House of Commons is looking near-impossible as opposition mounts.

The ‘meaningful vote’ promised to MPs will happen on December 11 and is the single biggest hurdle to the Brexit deal happening – as well as being the key to Mrs May’ fate as PM.

But despite opinion polls suggesting the public might be coming round to her deal, there is little sign of a shift among politicians.

Remainers have been stepping up calls for a second referendum in the wake of Sam Gyimah’s resignation as universities minister over the weekend – while Brexiteers including Boris Johnson have accused Mrs May of betrayal.   

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The number is less than half because the four Speakers, 7 Sinn Fein MPs and four tellers will not take part.

The situation looks grim for Mrs May and her whips: now the deal has been published, over 100 of her own MPs and the 10 DUP MPs have publicly stated they will join the Opposition parties in voting No.

This means the PM could have as few as 225 votes in her corner – leaving 410 votes on the other side, a landslide majority 185.

This is how the House of Commons might break down:

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

Mrs May needs at least 318 votes in the Commons if all 650 MPs turns up – but can probably only be confident of around 230 votes.

The Government (plus various hangers-on)

Who are they: All members of the Government are the so-called ‘payroll’ vote and are obliged to follow the whips orders or resign. It includes the Cabinet, all junior ministers, the whips and unpaid parliamentary aides.

There are also a dozen Tory party ‘vice-chairs and 17 MPs appointed by the PM to be ‘trade envoys’.

How many of them are there? 178.

What do they want? For the Prime Minister to survive, get her deal and reach exit day with the minimum of fuss.

Many junior ministers want promotion while many of the Cabinet want to be in a position to take the top job when Mrs May goes.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

European Research Group Brexiteers demanding a No Confidence Vote

Who are they: The most hard line of the Brexiteers, they launched a coup against Mrs May after seeing the divorce. Led by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker.

How many of them are there: 26

What do they want: The removal of Mrs May and a ‘proper Brexit’. Probably no deal now, with hopes for a Canada-style deal later.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Other Brexiteers in the ERG

Who are they: There is a large block of Brexiteer Tory MPs who hate the deal but have so far stopped short of moving to remove Mrs May – believing that can destroy the deal instead. They include ex Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex minister Owen Paterson.

Ex ministers like Boris Johnson and David Davis are also in this group – they probably want to replace Mrs May but have not publicly moved against her.

How many of them are there? Around 50.

What do they want? The ERG has said Mrs May should abandon her plans for a unique trade deal and instead negotiate a ‘Canada plus plus plus’ deal.

This is based on a trade deal signed between the EU and Canada in August 2014 that eliminated 98 per cent of tariffs and taxes charged on goods shipped across the Atlantic.

The EU has long said it would be happy to do a deal based on Canada – but warn it would only work for Great Britain and not Northern Ireland.

How will they vote: Against the Prime Minister.

Remain including the People’s Vote supporters

Who are they: Tory MPs who believe the deal is just not good enough for Britain. They include the group of unrepentant Remainers who want a new referendum like Anna Soubry and ex-ministers who quit over the deal including Jo Johnson and Phillip Lee.

How many of them are there: Maybe around 10.

What do they want? To stop Brexit. Some want a new referendum, some think Parliament should step up and say no.

A new referendum would take about six months from start to finish and they group wants Remain as an option on the ballot paper, probably with Mrs May’s deal as the alternative.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister.

Moderates in the Brexit Delivery Group (BDG) and other Loyalists

Who are they? A newer group, the BDG counts members from across the Brexit divide inside the Tory Party. It includes former minister Nick Boles and MPs including Remainer Simon Hart and Brexiteer Andrew Percy.

There are also lots of unaligned Tory MPs who are desperate to talk about anything else.

How many of them are there? Based on public declarations, about 48 MPs have either said nothing or backed the deal.

What do they want? The BDG prioritises delivering on Brexit and getting to exit day on March 29, 2019, without destroying the Tory Party or the Government. If the PM gets a deal the group will probably vote for it.

It is less interested in the exact form of the deal but many in it have said Mrs May’s Chequers plan will not work.

Mr Boles has set out a proposal for Britain to stay in the European Economic Area (EEA) until a free trade deal be negotiated – effectively to leave the EU but stay in close orbit as a member of the single market.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

The DUP

Who are they? The Northern Ireland Party signed up to a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Conservative Party to prop up the Government.

They are Unionist and say Brexit is good but must not carve Northern Ireland out of the Union.

How many of them are there? 10.

What do they want? A Brexit deal that protects Northern Ireland inside the UK.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister on the grounds they believe the deal breaches the red line of a border in the Irish Sea.

Labour Loyalists

Who are they? Labour MPs who are loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and willing to follow his whipping orders.

How many of them are there? Up to 250 MPs depending on exactly what Mr Corbyn orders them to do.

What do they want? Labour policy is to demand a general election and if the Government refuses, ‘all options are on the table’, including a second referendum.

Labour insists it wants a ‘jobs first Brexit’ that includes a permanent customs union with the EU. It says it is ready to restart negotiations with the EU with a short extension to the Article 50 process.

The party says Mrs May’s deal fails its six tests for being acceptable.

How will they vote? Against the Prime Minister’s current deal.

Labour Rebels

Who are they? A mix of MPs totally opposed to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, some Labour Leave supporters who want a deal and some MPs who think any deal will do at this point.

How many of them are there? Maybe 10 to 20 MPs but this group is diminishing fast – at least for the first vote on the deal.

What do they want? An orderly Brexit and to spite Mr Corbyn.

How will they vote? With the Prime Minister.

Other Opposition parties

Who are they? The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Green Caroline Lucas and assorted independents.

How many of them are there? About 60 MPs.

How will they vote? Mostly against the Prime Minister – though two of the independents are suspended Tories and two are Brexiteer former Labour MPs. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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